Teaching Resource

Research skills and exam support

Designed to inspire ideas for research in the gallery, classroom and everyday life

About How to Research

A student showing a teacher their sketchbook

This resource was developed to offer creative research strategies to support a broad range of Art & Design curriculums for GCSE, BTech, and A-Level students.

How to Research models how artists can carry out research, with a specific focus on writing, drawing and looking. We invited three artists to respond to a project brief, providing prompts that encouraged them to draw connections between their particular thinking and approach to research, and their art-making practice.

The contents page of each booklet details this brief, encompassing methods of writing personal responses and collecting images and inspirations to compile research files; your students can discover new ways of approaching these tasks through the artists’ responses. We have also included discussion points and activities throughout the booklets, prompting students to further their research in their own ways.

Research Brief

An open notebook with writing on the left hand page and an ink drawing of a stack of black blocks and a white block and notes.

Donald Rodney's sketchbook (Tate Archive ref: TGA 200321)

Used with permission

This activity invites your class to build research files of their own, gathering and developing their ideas to support their ongoing coursework. The prompts provide a framework that you can adapt in numerous ways, acknowledging your expertise in best supporting your pupils’ needs.

Ask your students to each find the following:

  1. An image of something they already have, that they currently use to made art
  2. An image of their own artwork
  3. An image of an artwork from the Tate collection that inspires them
  4. A quote or textual reference that inspires them

Then, challenge them to respond to the following questions, through writing, annotation, drawing, making, or more.

  1. What connections can they find between the images and texts they’ve chosen?
  2. Explain a process they use to help them process ideas and inspirations.
  3. What question would they ask an artist about their research? Which artist(s) would they ask it to?

Encourage your students to collect all the work they produce through this project in a sketchbook or folder. Where could they go next? How might this research influence their own artmaking?

How Do Artists Research?

Example discussion points and activities

How to Research booklets are also available to pick up at the Schools Desk at Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

To further support your students at exam time see our Exam Help pages for more ideas and inspiration.