Reflective Summary

The DWPI Unit has been particularly constructive as I have been able to apply what I have been learning to teaching an increasingly diverse student group, including International students and Home students from diverse cultural backgrounds. The online activities have been an important part of widening my perspectives and I have valued the contributions of my peer learning group which have been insightful, reflective, supportive and informative.

The theme of Widening Participation initiated interesting discussion, further enriched by the different contextual experiences of my peers – all coming from different UAL Colleges and teaching different subjects.

Reflective thoughts from Alan, David and Mariana drew my attention to the importance of the students’ voice. In further discussion with Mariana (about teaching strategies for diverse groups), the potential of online tools such as the blog to provide a Third space was raised – described as a ‘generative, incorporative, dynamic, experimental space of mutuality and exchange.’ (GLAD 2008, p.172).

Constructive feedback and comment helped me to focus on a growing concern within my own teaching practice (i.e. Eurocentric resource listings) and confirmed my curriculum innovation idea. It was also particularly interesting reading and hearing about my learning group’s interventions all promoting different aspects of diversity.

Being new to online learning, I have sometimes struggled with the blog as a means of expression but with more interactive usage, I have become more confident and have enjoyed sharing knowledge, teaching strategies and ideas. My role has often been one of support and encouragement, and I have also contributed thoughtfully throughout providing ideas and information (reading material, websites etc) and feedback when and where I’ve thought it might be helpful.

Although often frustrated by my lack of technical knowledge, I have been progressively overcoming this, which has made a significant contribution to my professional development and has provided me with new skills which I can use in my teaching practice e.g. use of blogs, creating a PowerPoint presentation and awareness of many valuable online resources suggested by Mariana – including the DMC Blackboard Learning Resources site.

Curriculum Innovation

Theme: Supporting inclusive learning – an expansion of cultural references.

In order to seek some inspiration for my intentions – to create a more internationally flavoured visual resource for the illustration students, I visited the Migrations exhibition at Tate Britain.

The exhibition came about as the new director of Tate Britain, Penelope Curtis proposed looking at the British Art Collection – in relation to its troubling name as it is not actually British, and Migrations offered an alternative view.

I particularly liked how the visitor could choose their own route according to their particular interests. The introductory leaflet contained a map which showed three routes by three visitors each of whom have had different experiences of migration to Britain and it included their responses to chosen pieces of work on display.

Bonnie Greer’s response to ‘The Mud Bath’ 1914 in the (Jewish Artist and Art section).

 ‘I love this because it is very bold, emotional and uncompromising. I love the modernity and the urbanity. It is about holding on to your identity in a crowded space. It is also about being an outsider in a culture that values ‘place’. Bomberg’s attachment to his people makes this a very powerful piece of work.’

Another example is Shami Chakrabarti’s reponse to Gustav Metzer’s ‘Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art’ 1963 (in the Dematerialised Object section).

‘Destruction and creation are part of Metzger’s story. Here with us standing on one side of the river looking through the destroyed canvas at this famous English landmark on the other, it is almost like the foreigner’s experience of Britain. Sometimes you get a clearer view from the outside.’

I thought this was a carefully edited exhibition and it provided further thoughts and ideas for my curriculum innovation including;

  • How wide ranging should the resource be
  • How should the visual material be presented
  • Could it be interactive in some way

At this point, the Illustration students had commenced Part 3, the final stage of the Foundation course, where they are required to write their own personal project and to develop their own ideas. I was interested by the number of students who were now beginning to reference their own cultures.

A brief description of my progress.

Stage 1: Questionnaire.

I had intended from the outset that the resource would be student-led, with reference to Leask (2005) and third space thinking, so I handed out a questionnaire asking students to provide details of:

  • one contextual reference they found inspiring during the course which reflected something of their culture/nationality.
  • one contextual reference they had not used during the course but which they found inspiring and who reflected something of their culture/nationality.

My aim was to encourage the students’ own sense of agency by asking them to also consider a visual resource outside their specialist area.

Categories for the resource contributions included fiction, editorial, animation/film, design/advertising, decorative illustration/merchandising, typographical, fashion illustration, childrens books all specific to Illustration and other… to broaden the visual resource. Consequently rich and interesting contributions were made. 

The questionnaire had also asked students for their culture/nationality, to provide further information on the contributions made. The exhibition had made me aware of ‘categorization’ and its potential pitfalls, which was further discussed amongst my peers during the recent presentation. My pedagogical literature references include Preziosi (2008) and Cousin (2011).

The student response was encouraging with 50% completed questionnaires.

 Stage 2: Collating and analysing material:

  • according to student and country of origin: 
  • according to countries sourced. 

(I have further ‘unpacking’ to do here but perhaps unsurprisingly resources from the UK were most heavily sourced, followed by USA and Japan and then China).

Stage 3: Piloting of idea

I have done this with the following, and the responses so far have been both helpful and encouraging.

  • A small focus group of Home, EU and International students
  • Head of Department
  • International Support Co-ordinator of CCW

 Stage 4: Creating the resource

For the presentation day, I made a PowerPoint presentation of a small selection of images, to show the flavour of the resource. The idea was well received by my peers and included very useful feedback such as including the student’s quotes (recommendation/comments from questionnaire) alongside each image.


My intentions are to place the resource on Blackboard, where it could invite comment via a discussion board. Ultimately it could be presented as a website.

Supporting Change

Live Project: Supporting Change

Reading: UAL Equality and Diversity Framework document. Part Three: Diversity Strategy; 2010-15.

What is the UAL’s Diversity strategy?

I understand the Diversity strategy to be part of a framework which identifies a number of ways in which the UAL promote equality including age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, transgender, caring responsibilities and socio-economic class. (Equality Act 2010).

Each College, department, function, committee and individual is responsible for furthering these aims.

Its overall aim is to refine, shape, and enhance existing priorities and functions and in the light of this, I would like to examine the new CCW Foundation course, which I teach on. It opened in September 2011, and as we are approaching the end of the first academic year there, it is a timely opportunity to reflect.

In what ways are the different diversity strands considered e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, transgender, caring responsibilities and socio-economic class?

The students

The College has a total of 575 students, the majority of whom are 16-18.

As an associate lecturer, one of my most important responsibilities is that of a personal tutor where my role is to ensure pastoral as well as academic support for an identified student group, whom I see for one-to-one tutorials at least once a term and sometimes more if required. This is an opportunity to identify and record if the student has any learning support needs related to disability, so that I can check what they need to assist their learning.

According to the 2010/11 CCW FE Self Assessment Report, students with a declared disability made up 10% of the CCW cohort, which is quite a significant proportion.

Effective strategies are set in place to identify additional support needs from the outset – at application and enrolment stages, where students are asked to complete an Additional support form.

In my experience one of the most common learning disabilities is dyslexia. This year I have had a group of 10 tutees, 4 of whom are dyslexic. With their agreement, I referred them for additional learning support and encouraged them to take advantage of this valuable provision. This is also carefully embedded within the course timetable with learning support tutors working alongside the students in the studio. Further information on additional support is regularly posted on Blackboard.

The one-to-one tutorial is also an opportunity to acknowlege other problems that may be affecting the students work and there are clear lines of referral to student services regarding student health, counselling, disability, childcare, mental health service, chaplaincy etc, which I would discuss with the Pathway leader.

During my teaching career, I have also been involved in Gallery Outreach and Widening Participation programmes.

One of the aims at CCW is to improve internal progression for Widening Participation and BME students from FE to HE (CCW Quality Improvement Plan 2011/12). There is still a lot to be achieved, as recruitment of BME students is extremely low. Within the Illustration cohort of 80 students there are only 2 BME students.

I think the course could also be further enriched by a greater intake of mature students, but perhaps lower recruitment has been a reflection of the current economic climate. Another aim listed in the CCW FE Self Assessment Report 2010/11 has been to increase the success of 19+ learners on the course.

The Course

The course is structured in 3 parts:

  • Part 1 – Diagnostic Stage
  • Part 2 – Pathway Stage
  • Part 3 – Confirmatory Stage
The specialisms within the Pathway Stage are:
Art – Painting, Sculpture, Drawing and Photography.
Communication – Graphics, Illustration and Digital Media.
Design – 3D Product, Interior, Theatre, Fashion and Textile Design.
The content of the course is delivered through studio projects, lectures, tutorials, gallery and museum visits.
The diversity within the Illustration cohort provides a great learning resource and group learning is particularly effective. As Illustration involves collaboration, group work occurs throughout the course.
During the final major project the students were organised into small groups according to their individual project themes. Group tutorials and peer assessments were the most effective ways of sustaining supportive interaction.
All tutors in the Illustration Pathway team contribute to the project briefs, which are sufficiently open, to enable personal exploration and development. ‘Assignments frequently incorporate diverse cultural themes and students’ work often reflects and celebrates social and cultural diversity’. (Ofsted Inspection Report, 2012)

During the Diagnostic Stage of the course, I was involved in teaching a workshop for an ‘International Week’ of activities. Tighter visa controls had delayed some student enrolments and this provided an important opportunity for these students to catch up.

The event was also used as a way of introducing International students to the Language Support and International Office teams. Another aim during this year has been to encourage the International students to improve on their oral and written skills by engaging more with language support. (CCW Quality Improvement Plan 2011-12). This in turn would help improve progression for International students especially with regards to learning outcomes and progression opportunities. The students also have access to Academic support and ‘much effort is made by the teaching staff in overcoming language barriers and exploring complex concepts in different ways and encouraging them with their oral and written skills.’ (Ofsted Report 2012)

As an AL, I have also had the opportunity to contribute to course references on Blackboard. This is quite thorough, but in the light of increasing student diversity, I think there is potential for expansion to reflect this.

The staff

My teaching colleagues are all practising professionals. They are predominantly from the U.K and some have worked internationally. The majority also have had a wide breadth of teaching experience including teaching on widening participation programmes.

 Collaboration with external organizations  

CCW has involvement with a range of events and acivities that engage with the local community including Camberwell Arts Week and Peckham Space. During the Diagostic Stage one of the drawing projects was linked to the South London Gallery. Throughout the year the gallery space in the Progression Centre has also been used for visiting exhibitions, including ‘A Portrait of Mrs Spinks’ providing a rich source of inspiration for the students.

The final show which is coming up shortly will also be used as an opportunity to engage with the local community with with local schools.

What are the strategies for addressing issues raised through complaints and appeals?

‘Should a student be unsatisfied with the outcome (of the course) it is possible to lodge an appeal with the UAL Awarding Body’, Course Handbook 2011/12. The University Appeals procedure is made available to all students.

Further References.

Course Monitoring data UCPU Achievement and Retention Reports 2009/10

CCW Further Education Self Assessment Report (SAR) for 2010/11

CCW Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) for 2011-12

Course Handbook 2011/12

Ofsted Inspection Report 2012


What is Widening Participation?

What is Widening Participation?

Reading: Bhajet, D and O’Neill, P. (2011) Widening Participation in Art and Design. Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Pedagogies; Learning from Widening Participation Research in Art and Design Higher Education. Croydon: CHEAD. pp. 20-40

I understand Widening participation as a policy, which enables access to learning for all – regardless of their age, disability, gender, race, sexuality and socio-economic class, and that this ‘inclusive approach’ (p.21) should improve learning for everyone. It also has the potential to be an ‘ongoing process of quality enhancement.’ (p.32)

How do you understand it in your own context?

The student cohort which I work with is composed of approximately 80 Illustration students (on the CCW Foundation course) with over a third being made up of International students who come from China, Japan, Korea, India, Russia, South America and one student from South Africa, and the USA.

The others are Home/EU students and there is one student from Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Sweden and some students of mixed nationality – so an incredibly rich multi-national cohort. However, there are only two BME students.

My tutor group of ten students is composed of 8 Home/EU and 2 International Students. Four students are dyslexic and one student completed a widening participation course before commencing the Foundation.

How I support inclusive learning within my teaching practice?

 By using effective teaching strategies e.g.

  • clear communication – especially when speaking to International students, or when I have had a student with hearing difficulties, needing to look directly at the student to aid lip reading etc.
  • use of clear language in project briefs, handouts, progress tutorial reports etc, especially for students with dyslexia, International students where English is not their first language etc.
  • encouraging participation during informal discussion, group tutorials, peer assessments, so that students feel comfortable to contribute and that their contribution is valued.

 Through effective one-to-one tutorial provision, combining a combination of academic and pastoral support e.g.

  • checking that students feel part of the CCW student community, are adapting to a new culture, and are becoming familiar with new ways of learning.
  • ensuring that they are well informed and that they refer to the course handbook to understand the structure and content of the course.
  • ensuring that they are using the University email system, and virtual learning environments such as Blackboard to support their learning.
  • asking students to outline their learning/language support needs, for appropriate action, e.g. if I have a student with dyslexia, and it is affecting their progress – with their agreement, I would refer them for additional learning support.

If a student is experiencing further difficulties, I make them aware of additional support within the University – student services, the international office and any other services through the student union networks.

Further improvements I could make include:

Maintaining awareness of current UAL policies.

Using more effective question and answer techniques – allowing sufficient time for students to answer, especially the International students. (This was something I became more aware of, through peer observations).

Extending contextual referencing – in preparation for the curriculum intervention, I have collected a resource of contextual references from the students’ which reflects something of their culture/nationality – with the idea of creating and building a more internationally flavoured Illustration resource to promote inclusivity.

  • as a way of celebrating and valuing their input
  • as a way of expanding knowledge – everyone’s knowledge

One of the main difficulties of implicating Widening Participation is the categorizing of groups. This can often disguise a reality. The example provided in the reading (of BME students seeming to be over-represented, but in reality being under-represented due to over proportional representation of Asian students), underlines the dangers of labelling and highlights ‘the need to avoid treating the minority ethnic population as a single, homogenous entity’. Connors et al., 2004 (p.30)

It is also very difficult to assess the effectiveness of Widening Participation, as the evidence takes time to become apparent and measurable, highlighted by the percentage increases during a fifteen year and then a five year time span, referred to in the 2010 HEFEC Report on ‘Trends in Young Participation’ (p.27)

As it is no longer a policy priority, and as it remains a complex issue, I strongly agree that it remains increasingly important to find solutions, to enable fair access to HE for ‘an increasingly varied student population’. (DFES, 2003, p.68) cited on (p.28).

Inclusivity: Diversity, Widening Participation, and Internationalisation

Diversity, Widening Participation and Inclusivity.

I would describe myself as white, female, and of Northern Irish origin. I completed a BA in Graphic Design in 1984 and an MA in Graphic Design in 1985. On my BA course there were twenty-four students, five of whom were female. My MA course was composed of 15 students, and the balance was more equal. On both courses, there were no International students, however there was one mature student on both the BA and MA courses.

Informal assessment took the form of critiques, tutorials and written feedback. Tutorials and written feedback were supportive, however critiques were public and often negative. Although there was no formal self-assessment or peer-assessment, this happened naturally within the studios with students often discussing each other’s work. The final assessment took the form a group exhibition at the end of both courses with all assessment weighing on this.

My experience has impacted on my teaching methodologies in the following ways:

  • by understanding the need to give constructive criticism; opportunities for me to provide this happen during critiques, tutorials, group discussion, one to one teaching and group teaching.
  • by understanding the need to recognise each student as an individual.

I am careful not to make assumptions regarding students and their abilities as I think it is important to always keep an open mind.

An international student may have difficulties expressing themselves in English, however there are other ways of overcoming the language barrier e.g. explaining something in another way, using gestures, visualisation etc

A widening participation student may have experienced difficulties in their previous learning and by using a wider range of teaching strategies, they may respond more naturally.

Differentation supports this highly individualised approach to teaching and learning.


Teaching Development Project

Final Presentation

The Final Presentation yesterday was very useful regarding further development of my intervention, as it  made me realise that it has a wider application and could be used to define the overlapping differences between other disciplines, e.g.

  • costume/fashion design
  • sculpture/theatre (especially site specific work)

It also confirmed how the use of using a simple Venn diagram was an effective method of helping students define where their interests lie, outside a specialist area.

Teaching Development Project continued


The Focus Group

The focus group was composed of 10 students and represented a cross section of the Illustration cohort. It included:

  • 6 Home EU students (including one black female student)
  • 4 International students (nationalities included Korea, USA, China and Brazil)
There were 3 male and 7 female students.


The Images – reason for choice:
  • both from the same artist
  • work which student had not seen before
  • the process/materials used relate to students working methods


IMAGE A  – is applied art (applied to somebody else’s problem).
An  Editorial illustration by Olaf Hajek. Commissioned for ‘Food Illustrated’ magazine. Media used – Ink on paper. Potentially can be read as applied art or fine art.



IMAGE B – is fine art (standing alone).

A painting by Olaf Hajek. Title: ‘Black Antoinette’ (2008). Media used -Acrylic paint and collage on card. Potentially can be read as applied art or fine art.


Olaf Hajek is a Berlin based illustrator and figurative painter. He was born in North Germany in 1965 and studied Graphic Design in Dusseldorf, but continued to pursue his interests in painting and illustration. His first major commission was for the Dutch Playboy in the early 1990’s.  He exhibits regularly in galleries all over the world and has received awards from American Illustration, Images, Communication Arts and D&AD. His clients include Architectural Digest, Bloomberg Inc., Financial Times, Food Illustrated, Gourmet, LA Times, The New Yorker, Pirelli and Rolling Stone.

The Intervention was introduced by asking each student to plot where they saw themselves on the Venn diagram.
venn diagram scan001
The intervention seemed to go well and students were genuinely interested. The group discussion became quite animated with different levels of articulation.


Teaching Development Proposal continued

Intervention Plan

Intervention to happen during Part 2 (specialist pathway) of the Foundation course

Exercise to take 1 hour with a group of 10 students.

The intervention exercise will have been preceded by an introductory questionnaire, ‘What is illustration’ (see Fig 1 below) to find out:

  •  what the students understanding is (at the beginning of the specialist option)
  •  if they can make connections between their own work and the specialism
  •  what are they doing to help them understand their specialism


Activity (30 minutes)

The students will be shown two images (both reproductions) of an illustration and of a painting (both representational) by the same artist.

They will be given an Intervention Question List (see Fig 2 below) which they will use as a framework to establish the intensions behind the image – the object they are looking at. The students will be divided into two groups. All students in each group will be asked to apply the list of questions to each image and to write down their answers.


Discussion (10 minutes)

The students will then reform in their two groups and discuss what they have agreed/disagreed on.


Group discussion (10 minutes)

All students will discuss what has been learnt and if this has had any impact on their understanding of the role of illustration.


Evaluative Questionnaire/feedback form (see fig. 3 below)

Students to complete in 10 minutes at the end of the exercise.

The intervention will conclude with a feed back form, to allow students to reflect on what they have learnt, whilst considering the following:

  • if their understanding has changed /developed
  • how their understanding has changed/developed
  • if they felt more engaged/less engaged with their learning
  • why they felt more engaged/less engaged with their learning


Aims of intervention:

  •  to establish a clearer understanding of illustration
  •  to understand the role of illustration
  •  to define the parameters of their subject specialism
  •  to encourage more active engagement in own learning
  •  to develop confidence in learning abilities
  •  to develop a critical awareness
  •  to enable sharing of ideas in a group and learn from each other
  •  to exercise critical judgement
  •  to reflect on the learning



  •  to have a clearer understanding of what illustration is
  •  to have a clearer understanding of the role of illustration
  •  to be more actively engaged in own learning
  •  to have a contextual awareness/understanding of illustration
  •  to have a critical awareness of illustration
  •  to have a more confident understanding of what has been learnt


Learning Outcomes – After the intervention students should be able to:

  •  describe the similarities/differences between an illustration and a painting
  •  identify the similarities/differences between an illustration and a painting
  •  apply own critical judgement
  • use reflective skills to support own learning



Fig. 1  Introductory Questionnaire  – ‘What is illustration?’ 


Student name………………………………………………..Date……………………


What do you think illustration is?



How does your work relate to illustration?



Who inspires your work? (Consider all practitioners of Art and Design – not just illustrators)



What helps you understand what illustration is?



Thank you for taking part in this questionnaire which is part of an action research project. 


Fig. 2: Intervention Question list


Name……………………………..…..       Date……………………….


Image A/B


1. What is the origination point of the work? (Why do you think it has it been made?)


2. What is the function of the work? (What will it do?)


3. How is the work made?


4. How much do you think the work is worth?


5. How many editions would you expect to be made of this work?


6. Who would the expected audience be for this piece of work?


7. What is the context for this piece of work? (Where will it sit?)


8. Does the work communicate anything and if so… what?



Fig. 3:  Evaluative Questionnaire/feedback form     Name………………………………


Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree
The intervention has given me a greater understanding of the role of illustration
The intervention has given me a greater understanding of the parameters of illustration
The intervention has enhanced my ability to exercise my critical judgement
The intervention has provided me with an increased contextual awareness
The intervention has increased my confidence


Has your understanding of illustration changed or developed?    Yes/No


How has your understanding changed or developed?


Did you feel more engaged or less engaged with the learning?   Yes/No


Why did you feel more engaged or less engaged with the learning?


Thank you for taking part in this intervention which is part of an action research project.



TDP Proposal feedback:

  • to reframe the problem as ‘students lack of agency (sense of responsibility) about their learning.
  • to scale back the indicators.
  • to look for additional (unexpected outcomes)


Reading: Broadfoot P.M. (1996) Education Assessment and Society: A Sociological Analysis. Open University Press: pp. 24-39

According to Broadfoot, the social purposes of assessment are:

  • to promote and accredit competence
  • to regulate competition
  • as a means of system control

She then goes on to discuss ‘the dilemmas inherent in its social role’, for individuals, institutions and systems. (Broadfoot 1996 p.25)

How is the course you teach on assessed?

I have explored this question by considering:

  1. How the student is assessed
  2. How the course is assessed

1. How the student is assessed?

There is a programme of regular assessment throughout the Foundation course – formative and summative, and as an associate lecturer, I participate in both.

Formative assessment – this is ongoing and takes place during:

one-to-one tutorials – an important opportunity to discuss and assess progress as well as providing advice on how to further improve and develop the work. My main difficulty is often managing this within the short time limit – twenty minutes to discuss the work and ten minutes for verbal and written feedback, (provided in the form of a tutorial report and given to the student at the end of the tutorial – this confirms and clarifies what has been discussed and will often include an action plan).

self assessment – a valuable opportunity for students to reflect on their own progress at the end of each project. They are asked to note down their observations in their logbooks so that they can take responsibility for future planning and action.

peer assessment – where students assess each other informally at the end of a project. Again this is a valuable exercise as it allows each student to see how each other works, and at the same time encourages familiarity with the assessment criteria for each unit.

group critiques – another valuable method of informal assessment during projects where students appraise each others work. I have seen this help the quieter students build self-confidence and become more articulate when discussing their thoughts and ideas about their work.

Summative assessment – I am currently involved with this, as it happens at the end of each Unit. It is where judgements are made about the standard of the work in relation to the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria. On this occasion the student is asked to provide a range of evidence showing how and what has been learnt during the Illustration specialism including sketchbooks, logbooks, blog, 3D work, animations, short films, development work, final outcomes etc. This assessment process includes verbal as well as written feedback, which is documented on and assessment form and given to the student.

What purpose does assessment of the student serve?

I see both forms of assessment as support mechanisms for the students:

  • it provides direction and guidance on how to improve
  • it measures development and informs the student of their progress
  • it ensures understanding and familiarity with assessment aims
  • it provides encouragement for independent learning etc.
  • it encourages motivation, and in turn, it empowers creativity
  • it encourages reflection and students are asked to make notes on advice given in their logbooks.

One of the Units for Summative assessment, which I have just been assessing is Unit 6 “Preparation for Progression’ and the assessment criteria include –

  • articulating identified progression opportunities within a chosen field at an appropriate level
  • planning time and actions to access progression opportunities
  •  organising self and time to meet deadlines and targets
  • organising and effectively presenting themselves  and their work to an appropriate audience
  • using communication skills effectively

At this stage, students are attending interviews for HE entry. Up to this point assessment has largely been competency orientated, however now ‘achievement in personal and social skills’, (Broadfoot 1996 p.30) is assessed. I agree that it is critical that assessment relates to the wider world and includes aspects such as communication skills, especially with commercial arts subjects where effective communication is important.

2. How is the course assessed?

The Foundation Course is also regularly assessed and regulated. Internal assessments include:

  • teaching observations – to identify good practice and room for improvement
  • staff development -teacher training programmes e.g. PG Cert, PG Diploma etc
  • student survey – to measure what students think of the course

Involvement on a staff panel for a recent Ofsted inspection, drew my attention to the annual Self Assesment Report (SAR) where the course is reviewed under the following headings:

  • Outcomes for Learners
  • Quality of Provision
  • Leadership and Management

The annual Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) assesses these in detail.

The external assessment procedure by Ofsted included:

  • teaching observations
  • meeting a panel of students
  • looking at samples of students work
  • meeting a panel of staff

What purpose does the assessment of the course serve?

Here assessment is a way to:

  • ensure parity between all three pathways of the Foundation Course (Art, Design and Communication)
  • ensure standards e.g. acting on and responding to feedback from examining bodies such as Ofsted
  • ensuring accountability for government funding
  • ensuring fairness of educational system

If assessment serves more than one purpose, what difficulties arise as a result of this?

Assessment needs to have a definite focus/purpose. The criteria should be clear, sufficient and measurable otherwise it can cloud the conclusions drawn. It also needs to be clearly linked to the learning and teaching otherwise it is without meaning.

There will always need to be a way of measuring competence and ensuring that students are well prepared for HE, and ultimately the workplace. In the current economic climate, with the increase of fees for HE, as Broadfoot says – assessment needs to support ‘the educational goals defined by industry’. However in my area of Illustration these are not always clearly defined, so perhaps ‘on the job training’ (Broadfoot p.31), and apprenticeships, have become even more relevant. However reflecting back to the aforementioned Unit (6), which I am currently assessing – the assessment criteria here includes other transferable skills including communication; according to the 2011/12 UCAS handbook, ‘Graduates are well placed to be effective in all sections of a knowledge based society through their capacity for creativity through learning.’ This confirms the ‘dilemmas inherent in its social role’ (Broadfoot p.25) and the complexity of creating assessment strategies and policy, which are fit for purpose.

Although I found this chapter difficult reading due to its breadth, it has become increasingly interesting on applying it to my own teaching and learning situation. It has made me question the importance of assessment and how if carried out effectively, it is possibly one of the most important things we do both for ourselves and for others.


Reading: Lindström, L. (2006). Creativity: What is it? Can you assess it? Can it be taught? International Journal of Art and Design Education, 25(1), 53-66.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity happens when something ‘sparks’ the imagination. The practical example of this process, referred to in the 2006 Lindström article (Ella and her family series) is an excellent one because:

  • it clarifies how direct and indirect referencing of artists’ work can enable a student to make that crucial leap of imagination.
  • it confirms how close observation of an artist’s work can lead a student to interpret and evaluate information and ideas, bringing about self expression or as Ella describes, putting in ‘my own feelings.’
  • it confirms the value of reflection. Here the student reflects on the potential and relevance of the materials used, in relation to her own creative solution.
What does creativity mean in the discipline you teach?

My role as an associate lecturer on the Illustration pathway is to inspire and nurture creativity. This starts with the careful planning of a stimulating project brief, which I contribute to as part of the course team. The students have just completed a two-week project on ‘The Fanatic’, where they were asked to investigate a subject they were absolutely fanatical about and to present this within an illustrative context. The success of the brief as a source of inspiration was confirmed by the creative range of solutions produced. The Foundation course by its very nature is about encouraging students to to be adventurous, take risks, and explore new ways of thinking and making. However I would agree with Lindström that for a creative leap to take place, ‘discovery through mistakes and serendipity’ must be accompanied by ‘a prepared mind’.  (Lindström, 2006 p.63)

What do you do to teach creativity in your context?

Creativity is at the core of the learning. It is generated through exploration and experimentation of media and materials, and through idea development. It is supported and encouraged within one to one teaching, group teaching, tutorials, critiques etc. Creativity is also supported by the students’ ability to work independently, and they are encouraged to continue project work outside of their studio time and to continue researching their subject matter, which is also a course requirement.

What do you do to assess creativity in your context?                                                             

Creativity is also at the core of assessment. Two of the learning outcomes for the current Unit descriptor (Unit 5) at this point of the Foundation are;
  • Reseach, analyse and evaluate relevant information and ideas in order to develop creative solutions.
  • Identify, adapt and use appropriate practical methods and skills for creative production.
To formally assess these, I would look at all work produced, including the final outcome, development work, sketchbook, reflective journal and the blog. Assessment of creative application would be included in all written feedback at the end of a Unit and at the end of a tutorial when this would also be discussed. Verbal feed back on creative development would take place during tutorials and within group critiques at the end of a project.

The assessment criteria described in the Lindström article seems ‘user friendly’ and applicable and could be applied to Foundation teaching. I think it is also helpful to have clarity between product and process criteria and that they are ‘considered separately when assessing the students’ work.’ (Lindström, 2006 p.61)

Are there any other ways of encouraging creativity?

‘Creativity is not as private and individual process as we often imagine. It is always part of a social and cultural context.’ (Lindström, 2006 p.63) This is particularly true of Illustration, which borrows from a wide range of different sources and does not function creatively in isolation. In recent projects, I have been encouraging students to reflect on the value of contextual research and how this can inform creativity. As well as supporting and inspiring their work, it also provides a way of describing their thinking and can help ‘drive’ a project.

TED (2006) Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity. Video on TED.                            
I enjoyed this TED talk as the arguement was articulately conveyed in an engaging manner and provided a counterbalance to the reading. Having just experienced a week of Ofsted inspection, I could empathise with his outlook. However, reflecting back on my own experience as a student, I still believe that the Foundation stage of a student’s art education is possibly the most creative, and it would be difficult to stifle creativity of a course which ‘is designed to enable you to learn through discovery and exploration.’ (2012 Course Handbook)