Social Learning through Critique


Learning feels to us like a process managed by the will. Based on observation it seems like an individual act, and appears largely the result of our individual cognitive ability. Yet, how much of what we know was actually achieved alone? I would argue that although it is mediated by our intellect, almost none of our knowledge is obtained through consciously-directed effort. We are awash in our social environment and therefore it is impossible to separate learning based on individual effort and social influence. A signature pedagogy within visual and performing arts, group critique, draws its effectiveness from this social nature of learning, and furthermore, is a process that can be exported to other disciplines once understood. In fact the social factor in learning is important as we contemplate all pedagogical approaches, curriculum developments, and instructional designs. And social learning is equally important as we reflect on what it says about human nature. If learning is predominately social, in other words, this must have an impact not only on how we interact in the classroom, but how we relate to one another in society as well.


Social Learning, Art Critique, Higher Education Learning, Assessment


Learning in Higher Education


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Dr. Brian Harlan
    • PhD, University of Southern California, United States United States
    • Brian Harlan earned his Ph.D in Music History at the University of Southern California, and his MA in Systematic and Ethnomusicology at University of California, Los Angeles. He teaches courses on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of music, and has published and presented widely on music as well as on teaching and learning in the arts. His book on the music of Harry Partch was the first monograph to analyze Partch's unique microtonal notation.