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Miriam Gibson

Miriam Gibson


BA, DipFDT, PGDipHighE

Research Title

Making Meaning: The Role of Activity in Learning

PhD Start Date

1 April 2017

Research Summary

The reinvention of craft and the reinvention of learning go hand in hand. Craft activities enable us to engage with the world in ways that are uniquely human, requiring a combination of cognitive and physical abilities in sensual interaction with our surroundings. The interconnectedness of craft-making with psychological/spiritual development is examined and established through the evaluation of multiple data sets using a Grounded Theory approach (Charmaz, 2014). The study argues that both craft making and learning outside of traditional educational institutions are subversive practices that simultaneously undermine and realign the dominant social operating system in which we live (Von Busch, 2014). The study aims to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between craft activity and the development of cognitive ability (Adamson, 2007; Dissanyake, 1995; Illich, 1973; Pye, 1995; Sennett, 2009; Vygotsky, 1979), a better understanding of what motivates individuals to engage in learning craft (Korn, 2015), and an insight into how learning occurs in unstructured learning communities where craft activity is the mediating factor (Gauntlett, 2011; Rogoff, 1995).

The purpose of the research project is to examine the impact that engagement in craft activity has on learning and the development of the adult self, and to expand the existing knowledge base by establishing a clear link between craft activity and emotional and cognitive development in both individuals and communities. The role of self-curated learning in the digital age, and the impact this may have on traditional educational institutions, is questioned and possible future states explored.

Research Interests

Experiential learning, activity theory, communities of practice.


Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith
Dr Russell Butson