Dobson, Elizabeth (2012) An investigation of the processes of interdisciplinary creative collaboration: the case of music technology students working within the performing arts. Doctoral thesis, Open University.

This thesis addresses a gap in research on collaborative creativity. Prior research has investigated how groups of professionals, young people and children work together to co-create work, but the distinctive contribution of this thesis is a socioculturally framed understanding of undergraduates’ interdisciplinary practices over an extended period.

Guided by a socioculturally framed theory of creativity, this thesis observed 4 students creating a 10 minute performance piece, and presents a longitudinal analysis of the co-creation process which occurred through a total of 28 meetings recorded over the course of a twelve-week term (24 hours of recordings in total). Specific episodes were selected from the full set of recordings, constituting 2 hours of recordings for in-depth analysis. Sociocultural discourse analysis was used to examine how social and cultural contexts constituted an ecology of undergraduate practice in interdisciplinary creative collaboration. Offering a new methodology, this discursive approach for studying context (Arvaja, 2008) was combined with interaction analysis (Kumpulainen & Wray, 2002; Scott, Mortimer & Aguiar, 2006) to analyse how moment-by-moment creative developments and contexts were resourced and constituted through dialogue, artifacts and physical settings.

With implications for theory and practice, the analysis showed how the students’ collaborative contexts were constituted through dialogue, and how their emerging co- creative practice was mediated through multiple social and physical settings. It further evidenced how common knowledge was constructed through the process of collaboration, the value of peer feedback for fostering confidence, and students’ need for ‘silent witnessing’; for space to reflect and contribute to a long-term cumulative conversation.
The thesis also discusses how resourceful the students were, in terms of negotiating unfamiliar and unpredictable co-creating activities. Evidence is provided for the collaborative value of creating and appropriating new tools to develop common knowledge, and for the significance of imagination as a psychological resource for building common knowledge about hypothetical future activities, showing how technology-mediated co-creating can be seen as a complex interactional accomplishment.

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