Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education


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Profile 3. Developing effective environments and student support and guidance, August 2010


The following resulted from what I have learned about asking for feedback from students and keeping a reflective diary on my teaching practice.

After I made a flow chart of the ceramic process, the students’ understanding of what is quite a complex process became clearer. I noticed that the conversations were changing from those based on minimal understanding to more complex enquiries. I would agree with Michael Wesch and his “anti teaching” when he says: “Good questions are the driving force of critical and creative thinking and therefore one of the best indicators of significant learning. Good questions are those that force students to challenge their taken-for- granted assumptions and see their own underlying biases.”

Often the answer to a good question is irrelevant—the question is an insight in itself. The only answer to the best questions is another good question. And so the best questions send students on rich and meaningful lifelong quests, question after question after question.” (Wesch, M. 2008) I notice that the students who are truly learning are asking thoughtful questions.

One of the students I interviewed said she thought that being a student of ceramics helped one learn patience as the process was so lengthy and involves waiting for pieces to dry and for firings to happen. This is an unintended learning outcome that interestingly will only be included in her assessment if unintended outcomes have been given a special mention, yet patience is a great life learning skill.

This resonates with Richard Sennett…the craft of making physical things provides insight into the techniques of experience that can shape our dealings with others. Both the difficulties and the possibilities of making things well, apply to making human relationships.” (Sennett, R. 2008)

Making sure that the materials and equipment are clearly labelled, (including examples of glazes attached to buckets), has to be accompanied with explanations to students of the relevance of these details, as well as the careful handling, sustainability, cleaning, and health and safety aspects, when using ceramic materials.

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Profile 2. Assessment and giving feedback to learners, May 2010


After reading Bryan and Clegg (2006), I understand that assessment is also feedback, so my previous understanding that I had nothing to do with student assessment has now changed. I am improving the formative feedback 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 I or the tutor give, or indeed, the feedback the students give me. This has been particularly noticeable during the glaze test discussion times, when I can observe students who have done tests, and who are able to discuss their method and results with confidence. Their ability to understand why a certain test has worked or not, has increased. It was most obvious when discussing glazes with non-ceramic students who do not have the same ability.

The course has also enhanced my understanding of the formative feedback that one can give that really helps encourage student learning. (Dylan Williams) In accordance with Danvers (2003), “Arts subjects have to be assessed subjectively despite all attempt to the contrary and will continue to be a source of controversy.”

My weakness in this area has not really changed since being on the course, as I am still not participating in summative assessment. In ensuring students get 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 we could do more to find out locally by asking for student feedback about these processes. I have always encourage students to fight for their rights and get actively involved or at least to know who is the student representative. The course has made me aware of how easy it is to evaluate in what appears to be a totally unscientific manner. This reflects my own dread of completing feedback questionnaires and constant filling in of university surveys, but not really seeing any changes.

Making sure students get feedback quickly enough while they still care about it is important. An example is the suggestion made by a student 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 knows this is what the number means by including the explanation on the template. I ensure that students get plenty of feed forward so they can improve their next piece and help them to assist each other in giving feedback, including peer assessment.


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Profile 2. Developing effective environments, student support, and guidance, May 2010


The following resulted from what I have learnt about asking for feedback from students and keeping a reflective diary on my teaching practice. Making a flow chart of the ceramic process has increased the students’ understanding of what is quite a complex process. One of the students I interviewed said she thought that being a student of ceramics helped one learn patience, as the process was so lengthy and involves waiting for pieces to dry and for firings to happen. This is an unintended learning outcome that interestingly, will not be included in the assessment, yet it is a great life learning skill.

Making sure that the materials and equipment are clearly labelled, (including examples of glazes attached to buckets), has to be accompanied with explanations to students of the relevance of these details, as well as the careful handling, sustainability, cleaning, and health and safety aspects when using ceramic materials.

Recently we had our real towel taken away and replaced with paper towels, but with no accompanying method of recycling the paper. I immediately set up a labelled bucket next to the sink, which I empty regularly when I am there. Generally as a team, we also instigated an appointment system for using the plaster room, which seems to be working well, meaning that students know we know who was in there, so they clean up better!!


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Profile 1. Assessment and giving feedback to learners, October 2009


For assessment of learner understanding I have used the written questionnaire format, and I have given verbal feedback using the positive negative positive sandwich style. I have never been required to do written, numerical, or graded assessment, and I am interested in learning how these formats can be practiced in a fair and non-discriminatory way.


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Profile 1. Developing effective environments, student support, and guidance, October 2009


I have been thinking about this with particular reference to the lengthy process of ceramics and the shortening of the teaching week. I am interested in gaining an understanding of what it is that one gets assessed on if the work is not fired or finished. Perhaps I would be more effective as a supporter of student learning if the guidance I could offer could be more objective and more specifically directed towards assessment criteria. I also have many years of experience with ongoing workshops and therefore would appreciate the chance to learn how to plan for much shorter student contact time. I am about to lead a daylong workshop for 25 boys (age 7-9 years) along with some of their parents.