I Teach Therefore I Dress: Exploring The Relationship Between Appearance, Inclusion And Knowledge Creation In Higher Education

Researcher: Emma Davenport

Institution: London Metropolitan University

Research Year: 2020

Project aims:

The main aim of this project is to develop a professional development resource for the field of Learning Development that focuses on making higher education (HE) inclusive through emancipatory practice and critical self-reflection. The objective is to develop, facilitate and evaluate a pilot workshop aimed at those working in Learning Development (LD), including those participating in professional development recognition schemes. Within academia, we think about appearance all the time, whether interviewing potential colleagues, writing references for doctoral candidates, giving a lecture to students or presenting research at other institutions (Schneider, 1998; Kaiser, Chandler and Hammidi, 2001). Yet, in higher education, the topic of clothing and its role when it comes to being and becoming a professional has rarely been discussed or reflected upon in depth. Visual role models are therefore limited, in particular when it comes to examples of embodied learning and teaching (Weber and Mitchell, 1995). Drawing on the description ‘doing dress’ by Goodman, Knotts and Jackson (2007:101) where this daily practice is understood as critical to social and cultural agency, how might we reflect, share and consider how we ‘do dress’ in relation to both our learning and professional development within HE? How do choices about clothed appearances, accessories etc relate to personal, cultural and academic/professional values, which underpin our approaches to learning and teaching? With that in mind, we will develop, pilot and evaluate an academic development resource in the form of a one hour workshop that invites participants to explore and reflect upon the role of dress in relation to the process of becoming an academic/learning developer.