Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education

Profile 3. Assessment and giving feedback to learners, August 2010

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After reading Bryan and Clegg (2006), I understand that feedback is a key aspect of assessment, so my previous understanding that I had nothing to do with student assessment has now changed. Now I understand that assessment should enhance and enable self regulated learning and judgements. This is a switch from thinking it is only concerned with grades.

I am improving the formative feedback that I give to students, especially the ceramic students. This course has really helped my understanding of how much feedback to give students, and to help them understand that this feedback works in all directions. By this I mean that feedback between students is as important as feedback offered by myself, or the tutor or indeed the feedback the students give me.

An example that I cited in my reflective journal was when one of the students asked me if they would be taught how to pack a kiln on the BA course. My response was that she should ask the interview panel this question when they asked her if she had any questions for them. After the interview the student reported back to me that she had asked the question during interview and the panel had said what a good question it was.

The course has also enhanced my understanding of the formative feedback that one can give that really helps encourage student learning. As seen on a video by Dylan Williams, about formative assessment. (Williams, D. 2007) I agree that students can learn from this type of formative feedback. I also agree with Danvers (2003) when he states, “Arts subjects have to be assessed subjectively despite all attempt to the contrary and will continue to be a source of controversy.” Interestingly, the tutors who do the summative assessments have a very good track record of meeting the external assessors’ gradings.

I am still a Technician and therefore do not participate in summative assessment. However, my understanding of summative assessment and how it is carried out according to strict marking criteria has increased since being on the course. I plan to discuss with the Head of Area how I might get more involved in this aspect of teaching in future.

By ensuring that students receive quick and useful feedback from us and from each other, I am aware that the national student survey has some of the answers as to how well they perceive that assessment is fair and that they are being listened to, but actually in my own practice I think more could be done to find out locally by asking for student feedback about these processes. I have always encouraged students to fight for their rights, to become actively involved, and to be able to identify their student representative. The course has made me aware of how easy it is to evaluate in what appears to be a totally unscientific manner, yet be rewarded with some positive results.

An example of students needs being listened to and then acted on was when a student suggested that the glaze test tiles required a further number to indicate which page the recipe can be found in the recipe book. I did this and made sure everyone knew this by including the explanation on the template. I have since seen students using this method to find the recipe in the glaze book, thereby confirming their understanding of how to use the information. This number also appears on the bucket or container in which the glaze is stored.

“It is important to ensure that the students get feedback quickly enough while they still care about it, and for it to be useful in enhancing their learning.” (Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C . 2004)

I make sure that students get plenty of feedback so they can improve their next piece and I help them to assist each other in giving feedback, including peer assessment. I do this by emphasising the positive aspects of their work that could be used productively in their next piece. I explain why they have worked well and how to use this new knowledge to enhance their abilities. If the moment is right and the student can accept some constructive criticism, I may point out features of the work that should not be repeated or that could be improved. This communication promotes high expectations and articulates explicit goals that students can understand and orient themselves towards. This condition is drawn from Chickering, Z. F. and Gamson, A. W. (1991): “Good practice communicated high expectations.”

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Author: pandaji

Ceramic artist, educator

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