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Learning Jam: An evaluation of the use of arts based initiatives to generate polyphonic understanding in work based learning

Anne Pässilä (Department of LUT Lahti School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland)
Allan Owens (Faculty of Education & Department of Performing Arts, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Maiju Pulkki (School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Publication date: 9 May 2016



The purpose of this paper is to conceptualise “Learning Jam” as a way of organising space, time and people through arts-based pedagogies in work-based learning. This form of encounter originated in Finland to challenge functional silo mentality by prioritising polyphony. Through the use of a “kaleidoscopic pedagogy”, arts-based initiatives are used to collectively and subjectively reconsider practice.


The research design is grounded in one of a series of Learning Jams co-created by practitioners from the field of arts and arts-based consultancy and academics from the field of arts, arts education, innovation and management, learning and development. The focus was on exploring the value of each participants work-based learning practice through the lens of an Arts Value Matrix. Rancière’s critical theory was used to frame the exploration. The research questions asked; what are the ingredients of this creative, transformative learning space and in what ways can the polyphonic understandings that emerge in it impact on work-based learning?


Findings of this study centre around alternative ways of being in a learning setting where we do not defer to the conventional figures of authority, but collectively explore ways of organising, where the main idea is to lean on something-which-is-not-yet.

Research limitations/implications

A key research implication is that teaching in this context demands reflexive and dialogical capabilities for those who hold the role of organising and facilitating spaces for learning and transformation. The main limitation is in stopping short of fully articulating detailed aspects of these capabilities.


The originality and value of the practice of Learning Jam is that managers and artists explore the potential of operating as partners to develop new ways of working to realise organisational change and innovation.



Pässilä, A., Owens, A. and Pulkki, M. (2016), "Learning Jam: An evaluation of the use of arts based initiatives to generate polyphonic understanding in work based learning", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 178-192.



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