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Creative Difference: Feedback and Assessment in Fine Art Dr Venda Louise Pollock & Chris Jones (Fine Art) Sandy Alden & Brenda Wilkinson (Student Wellbeing)

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Presentation on theme: "Creative Difference: Feedback and Assessment in Fine Art Dr Venda Louise Pollock & Chris Jones (Fine Art) Sandy Alden & Brenda Wilkinson (Student Wellbeing)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Creative Difference: Feedback and Assessment in Fine Art Dr Venda Louise Pollock & Chris Jones (Fine Art) Sandy Alden & Brenda Wilkinson (Student Wellbeing) with James Ricketts as student lead

2 Creative Difference CONTEXT : Assessment & feedback identified as problematic within A&D subject areas (Vaughan & Yorke 2009; Orr 2007; Mason & Steers 2006) Attention tends to focus on alternative assessment methods, particularly for written elements (e.g. see Middlemass 2010; writing-pad) but other recent research (e.g. Pollock & Alden 2012) looks toward an empowering and inclusive learning process as a means to a positive student experience Research has been undertaken into summative assessment (e,g, Vaughan and Yorke 2009) and interest in discipline (HEA STEM/HEA A&H workshop 2012) Within studio-based subjects, multiple forms of feedback but understanding of their impact upon assessment is unclear (Blair 2006; Fortnum, Houghton & Sim 2009). Important because learners in creative disciplines shown to excel in learning but often struggle with assessment (Robinson 2001)

3 Creative Difference Despite investment in feedback, many complain they do not receive enough feedback on their work (Bright 2010; Gladstone 2010; Gladstone 2013) > perception problem? “ Follow up of the analysis of NSS comments has made institutions more aware that feedback in general, whether formative or summative, is often not recognised or understood by many students. This led one institution to comment that ‘Our students wouldn’t recognise they were receiving feedback even if we all went round wearing Tshirts that said ‘You are now getting feedback’’. Another commented that it appeared that the only form of feedback students in Art & Design recognise is that tailored to them as individuals ‘what do I have to do to get a better mark (i.e. 1 st or 2:1)?” Yorke and Vaughn 2009: 17

4 AIM : identify, investigate & improve means of formative and summative feedback Creative Difference STAGES : 1.Investigate current perceptions of what constitutes feedback, from staff and student perspectives to improve understanding of feedback and its mechanisms 2.Identify current methods of recording and using feedback and to look at potential alternative methods, such as smart technologies 3.Evaluate Open Studios in relation to formative and summative feedback to gain insight into the effectiveness of the feedback/assessment loop 4.Revisit and redevelop Open Studios in light of findings


6 Creative Difference METHODOLOGY Interviews with staff (own institution and broader sector) Interviews with students (own institution and broader sector) Focus groups with students Module evaluations and further discussion groups Sector questionnaire TPSRS session QuiLT/Blackboard discussion group Discussions with staff/students at Teaching and Learning Committee Day-long staff/student workshop with c.20 stage 1 students looking at feedback/transition (included mock assessment exercise)

7 Creative Difference FEEDBACK MECHANISMS IN FINE ART One-on-one tutorials Group Crits Peer-review Visiting Lecturer tutorial Assessment tutorial ‘Studio cruising’ Written feedback End of year tutorial Technical feedback in workshops and from technicians



10 Creative Difference Characteristics of THE STUDIO : Defined as learning through action – investigative and creative process driven by research, exploration and experimentation Milieu for creative action with: (a) A culture (people) who build a creative community (b) A mode of teaching and learning characterised by processes of critical reflection, small class sizes, face-to-face contact (c) A series of projects and activities that reflect and integrate professional practice (d) A physical space or constructed environment, teaching and workshop space, tools and equipment and technical assistance appropriate to project needs

11 Creative Difference THE STUDIO : Distinctive: ‘signature pedagogy’ – habitual, routine, visible, accountable, interdependent, collaborative, emotional, unpredictable and affect laden (Shulman 2005) Koch et al 2002: 16: [a] challenging studio environment contains many aspects: relating knowledge to student experience and vision, a multiplicity of pedagogical and learning styles. A variety of student-faculty and student-student encounters, an ability to take risks, and an opportunity to share power to construct new knowledge and to transform thinking. Feedback in the studio (M. Price et al 2010): In an environment espousing a focus on the development of independent thinkers, feedback can only be positioned as advice rather than instruction. Students have a choice about whether to act on feedback. Their motives to do so or not may result from positive responses such as deep consideration of the feedback and reasoned rejection of it, or negative responses such as distrust of the feedback provider.


13 Creative Difference Characteristics of THE CRIT : group discussion with peers and tutors Flourishes if : outcome matters to those involved; where criteria for judging are open to scrutiny, debate and transformation; there is accountability; there is willingness to take responsibility to express and take honest opinion (Soep 2005) BUT: can cause anxiety that reduces its effectiveness As normative feedback it is important as it helps students to develop critical awareness of their own and peers’ work (Schute 2008); helps to shape students’ evaluative skills (Juwah et al 2004)


15 Creative Difference STAGE 1: Investigate current perceptions of what constitutes feedback, from staff and student perspectives to improve understanding of feedback and its mechanisms CONTEXT: Research shows there remains student confusion about feedback and different interpretation of assessment feedback by students and staff (Blair 2004, 2006, 2009; Davies 2000, 2002; Crooks 1998; Fleming 1998; Kent 1995; Oak 1998; Sadler 2005; Askew and Lodge 2000; Baume, Yorke and Coffey 2004; Biggs 2003; Black and William 2003; Harlem and James 1997; Rust 2002) Cantella 2001: 319: The particular character and activity that goes into making of art does not fit comfortably into any system of general assessment criteria

16 Creative Difference CONTEXT : Our students on Assessment: Art can’t easily be measured by exact numbers; [a percentage mark] means very little in terms of you pushing your ideas and working practice. It’s also just to satisfy an institutional mold, not the individual’s practice; important as benchmark but not necessarily important to practice Students want feedback (Hyland 2000; O’Donovan, Price and Rust 2001)BUT students don’t necessarily understand or use feedback (Gibbs and Simpson 2004; Lea and Street 1998; McCune 2004) More feedback doesn’t necessarily mean more learning (Kulhavy et al 1985)

17 Creative Difference OUR FINDINGS : STAFF – WHAT CONSTITUTED FEEDBACK Written after assessment Feedback is the response to assessment (verbal or written) but generally ‘I think everything we do is feedback’ A distinction between feedback in teaching and feedback for assessment Formative ie one-to-one tutorial, visiting tutor sessions, peer discussion in the studio, crits All dialogues between student and tutor whether written, oral, formal or informal There was one comment about feedback being the ‘foundation of what we do’ but with no explanation of this in context to practice. Similarly defining feedback as ‘all mechanisms of responding to students’ work’. Various opinions on whether the staff or student’s voice should be dominant – some saying it altered whether the feedback was formative or summative

18 Creative Difference OUR FINDINGS : STAFF – GOOD FEEDBACK Individual Evidenced Responsive Honest Clear Concise Feed-forward

19 Creative Difference OUR FINDINGS : Student – WHAT CONSTITUTED FEEDBACK No consensus on what constituted feedback Most students, particularly early stages, focused on written feedback (but evidence of shift in perceptions by Stages 2/3) Most Stage 1 students used to directive feedback and found adjustment to facilitative feedback difficult Most students made notes during tutorials in a sketchbook but found it difficult to articulate how they applied feedback [e.g. Crisp 2007; Higgins et al 2002): receiving feedback and being able to act on it should not be equated] Contrary to much of the literature (Smith and Gorard 2005; Crisp 2007) most of our students more interested in the feedback than the mark – particularly in the mid-stages of the degree programme

20 OUR FINDINGS: Student – FEEDBACK PREFERENCES Preference for oral forms of feedback, or oral combined with written (if post- assessment) Peer review and written feedback seen as least useful: written feedback no point for discussion, can just throw it away and forget about it, constantly there to be interpreted (good/bad); peer review: Peers might not be honest enough One-on-One tutorials and group crits seen as most useful: more conversational and greater understanding, allows conversation and dialogue where ideas can be thought out verbally rather than having to find the words to write down; group crits: more chance to explain yourself and see how your work is received by an audience; range of views and ideas Creative Difference

21 STAGE 2 : Identify current methods of recording and using feedback and to look at potential alternative methods, such as smart technologies TECHNOLOGY: Students not interested in using smart technologies (NB: right technology might not be there yet) and fast-paced evolution of technology – difficult to embed/habituate Recording feedback – seen as useful (supported by research in other disciplines) in conjunction with sketchbooks ‘I’m left with a general sense of what was said and try to scribble it down after but I forget.’) Gladstone 2013 – digitally recording feedback: addresses differences in perceptions between staff/student; improves students’ understanding of formative feedback; students can receive feedback when ready and review; spend more time with feedback than if written (Higgins et al 2002) Parkin et al 2012: online publication of grades and feedback/adaptive release of grades were found to significantly enhance students’ engagement with feedback

22 Creative Difference STAGE 3/4: Evaluate Open Studios in relation to formative and summative feedback to gain insight into the effectiveness of the feedback/assessment loop. Revisit and redevelop Open Studios in light of findings OPEN STUDIOS: assessment model Students display work in their studio space for assessment Open Studios was focussed on Stages 2 and 3, now likely to be Stages 1-3 Studios open to all year groups, staff and the general public – evening viewing with invitations sent Discussion encouraged between peers and via crits, and cross-year crits Assessment via assessment tutorial and staff assessing work External experts (artists, curators, theorists etc) run group crits Written feedback given after assessment tutorial with assessment grade.

23 Creative Difference OUR FINDINGS : OPEN STUDIOS Generated constructive discussions about work Students thought about the ‘relationship between how you display your work and its content’ Welcomed the diverse interactions surrounding the event Sense of professional practice in thinking about display and receiving diverse opinions (Candy et al 1994: …if students are to be encouraged to be lifelong learners, they must be weaned away from any tendency towards over-reliance on the opinions of others. Ultimately, in real world contexts, they must be able to judge or evaluate the adequacy, completeness or appropriateness of their own learning, so whatever assessment practices are used must be comprehensible to the learners so that they can be internalized as criteria for critical self-evaluation.

24 Creative Difference OUR FINDINGS : OPEN STUDIOS Demonstrated the complexity of the learning environment in which assessment takes place – provided a valued situated assessment with clear links to other feedback mechanisms experienced in the year and to the final degree show Students are not overly focused on assessment criteria/grades but Open Studios provides a valuable point to introduce and develop thinking around criteria and assessment through an iterative assessment model. Value involvement of external actors for different feedback content and range of approaches In experience a range of feedback mechanisms around one assessment/focal point, students develop their skills in becoming more discerning learners.

25 Creative Difference OUTCOMES : Improved understanding of feedback in Fine Art pedagogy, including types and purposes of feedback, recording and reflecting on feedback, and feedback’s relationship to assessment Shift in student perception in what constitutes feedback: from viewing it as assessment tutorials and related written feedback to perceiving a variety of kinds of discourse around practice as feedback Better practice for integrating feedback into the curriculum, particularly in relation to assessment A clear, evaluated and developed example of an assessment integrating a variety of feedback modes and professional practice experience Enhanced approaches for discussing feedback and assessment with students through staff-student workshops

26 Creative Difference OUTCOMES : Advantages of taking a multidimensional view of feedback where situational and individual characteristics of the instructional context and learner are considered along with the nature an quality of the feedback message (Schute 2008: 176) COMING SOON: Fine Art’s staff/student co-authored Feedback Sketchbook

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