Critical Evaluation

These tasks have been enlightening and have  – in almost every instance – showed my complete lack of knowledge surrounding the areas of inclusivity and diversity. When reading the blog posts of the others in my learning group I realised how embedded many of approaches and ideas that we have touched upon throughout this unit already were within their own teaching practices.

In my role my time is divided across 19 different course and trying to make the newly authored content relevant across all various courses has been an grueling undertaking and issue of inclusivity and diversity have not really been to the for front of my mind. When encountering people with disabilities I have had to deal with it on a case-by-case basis, but this unit will be a useful tool in moving forward developing course curriculum and overhauling my methods of delivery.

One of the core ideas that have come about through doing these tasks has been  ‘universal design’, a concept lifted from architecture that can be applied to designing curriculum. I understanding of it is how doing something to enable a specific disability can also can improve the experience of everyone. This concept will be the foundation of my teaching innovation

I agree with Anna that we have perhaps failed as a group as despite the fact that we have often commented we have not managed to in a timely fashion so a deep dialogue has not been undertaken. Everyone seems to have engaged with the content but the teaching demands for our entire teaching group seem to be weighted to the end of the academic year so our focus has shifted from our own studies towards supporting our students. I hope that now I am winding down with teaching responsibilities for the year I can really get to grips with some of the suggested texts to give my assignments a strong pedagogic framework.

It has been interesting to see the perspectives of the different group members as we all come at from quite different angles. Anna has deal with cultural bias in curriculum and fought to overcome this, David and Daisy have both been very active in trying to inclusive teaching practices and delivery. I have been impressed by the energy and the eagerness they have shown in trying to improve their curriculum, physical teaching environments and means of study support.

My own attitudes in the sessions (last one in particular) has been slightly marred by my own frustrations at the recruitment practices at LCF and feel that there has become an emphasis on the PR and marketing with less of a concern for the students when they study with us. I genuinely want to see a more inclusive and culturally representative student cohort, but I feel that this is not just a case of opening up more places, as year groups seem to expand radically every year whilst academic resources seem to being cut. I think we need to be more responsible in our recruitment strategies, and make sure that we are offering to place to the most talented and driven students from ever background and making sure we are fully ready to support them once they decide to study with us.


This year is the first year in my teaching practice where I had encountered students with severe disabilities and in almost every instance I was completely unequipped to deal with it. As I shifted from an Associate Lecturer role into a fractional position I overhauled the content that I delivered and the approaches in which I taught. From mainly teaching on a one to one basis in the form of tutorials, I was then charged with delivering lectures and larger group seminars across the wide ranges of courses.

A deaf girl attended one of my lectures for the first time with her teaching assistant and the experience completely called into question my teaching practice.  After the lecturer I spoke to the teaching assistant  – who had been signing to the student – as she had looked incredibly flustered throughout the duration. She told me she found it incredibly hard to keep up with the pace that I spoke and my tendency to go wildly off topic and deviated form the supportive slides so the visuals and the words did often not run in parallel.  It was interesting to receive this feedback as I suspect that in many instances before students may have struggled and not felt comfortable discussing it as they may not wanting to cause a fuss.

The second encounter I had was in a practical computer based session when I was teaching a severely dyslexic student (a disability I also suffer with to a much lesser extent) The programs we would need to use for the session where not on her computer which had software which would read allowed the words she highlighted in menus, so she had to work on the computers within the room.  Whilst I was keen to offer her help and support whenever the students were engaging in an activity and not focusing on myself demonstrating, I found it difficult to strike a balance making sure she was up to speed and maintaining a pace working through the activities that would keep everyone engaged.

When discussing these issues with other educators also studying on this unit, I have realised that they have resources in to support the learning in the classroom. As the content that I am delivering has only been debuted this year, as my teaching develops the outlines that are stated within the ‘Is Universal Design in Education Any of My Business’ could be a useful guide. Especially the below points.

Posting advance organisers, lecture outlines, key points online prior to class (I had always been reluctant to the past for fear that I student may see the key notes and use them as an alternative to attended the lecture)

Using a variety of media (audio, text, video, images, social media)

Starting each class with a summary of the key points from the previous class and doing the same when shifting or transitioning to a new topic during class

At current I do not feel that my current teaching practice engages (or that of my immediate peers) any the needs of a diverse audience in our teaching methods.  The only thing that I am aware off is additional support is given to students with dyslexia in for there academic writing, with extensions being offered on deadlines for the both the assignments and the portfolio parts of the projects. When disabilities are encountered it seems to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

This task has highlighted to me the complete lack of planning and consideration for understanding of the needs of a diverse audience. Although I suffer from dyslexia in my time in education I went along with the flow and developed my own coping strategies and little accommodation was made from educators and now I have moved into the role of educator have perhaps mimicked the methods I was taught by.

Widening Particaption

Widening participation is a part of educational policy which attempts to increase the number of people entering into higher education and also increase the portion of people who come from under-represented groups including those from lower income families, people with disabilities and some ethnic minorities.

In the context of my teaching I find the application of this policy interesting. I have often been involved with the interview process for applicants for some of the courses that I teach for both BA and FDA level. We often interview students who may not of studied A-levels and then gone onto art foundation and have applied directly from a BTEC or equivalent qualification. In many of these case the student come from lower income backgrounds. Often these students may show potential but they may be deemed not ready to enter a BA, so may be offered such cases they may be offered a place on a FDA degree that often have a more practical slant.

This means that often the social mix on many of the BA is promontory White middle class European and the emerging upper middle classes from South East Asia. In the instances of many of the international students they may not have to face an interview and may be taken on off the back of a digital submission.

If the students achieve the FDA they were formally given the opportunity to top up year so their qualification would become a Bachelor’s degree. This has now been changed on a number of courses so that the FDA students now enter final year BA. In almost all instances they perform well with the new BA. This make me question whether the experience of studying on the FDA has readied them for this challenges of the BA or if they would have could of potentially developed further if they had been pushed on the more competitive BA from day one. Does offering FDA encourage inclusivity or is it in essence a return to the Tripartite System of old with grammar schools and secondary moderns?

In my own teaching practice and admissions process I try to avoid all unnecessary academic jargon, acronyms and ‘art speak’ which is often buy its very nature meant to exclude. When teaching I am keen to get the students to embrace and follow there own passion in regards to the reference and research that is the foundations of there collections and not follow the current orthodoxies and trends that often manifest within art and design schools and are often dictated by the middle classes.

In the first year we often try to engage students in group projects, to try and encourage cohesion between the students from all cultural backgrounds. These projects are met with a mixed reception, some groups come together they forge strong working relationships that extend throughout their university lives, but as often as that does happen they is a flip side. Some frustrated with working different peoples working practices and methods and skill set are radically different. Logistically they can be tricky as they require much planning and getting the group to meet and communicate within groups can be hard, as some students often live quite far away from campus (often those from lower income families or mature students) and want to avoid expensive journeys into university unless completely necessary so can be held at disadvantage and become alienated from the group.

Shades of Noir

I most confess that I was completely unaware to the Shade of Noir site until the Inclusivity and Diversity session. I will in future point students in the direction of the website as I found it a highly stimulating hub of content and resources that could be useful across a wide range of courses.

Two of the resources I contributed were Subculture the Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdidge and Bass Culture by Lloyd Bradley. They were particular important to me whilst studying on my MA in Communication Design, in which I worked on a visual genealogy British youth subculture. One of the most fascinating facets of the project for me was uncovering how the cultural interchange between the black West-Indian communities and the white working classes had been the catalyst for many of the most vibrant youth subcultures. Both the mods and early skinheads were heavy instanced by the West Indian rude boy styling and Punk was in a sense a return to politics that used the Rastafarian concept of ‘dread’ as inspiration.

The third resource I have uploaded is a documentary that I recently watched called The Black Power Mix Tape. This documentary brings together material shot by Swedish documentarists and TV journalists dealing with the African American civil rights movement from the time of Martin Luther King’s death to the fall of Nixon. This was a period of history I only had a vague knowledge of. I was particularly fascinated to learn about the internal tensions within the black civil rights movement due to the opposed ideologies about how to bring about change.

After the Inclusivity and Diversity session and reading the blog post of the other member of my group it made me consider what the impact on learning would be for a UK national BME who was being taught by a largely white teaching staff. This also led me to think about bias in course structure and modes of assessment. On the fashion based students bring their own creative research that serves as the basis of their projects, with many choosing to bring draw on there own unique heritage and culture. Whilst this element of teaching and learning feels relatively inclusive the expectations within assessment and academic vernacular used are often established in students at the time of studying A-levels and Art Foundation, but the case of many of or UK National BME students did not access the course through these pathways so are disadvantaged from the offset, which is perhaps one of the reasons that retention rates are low. I appreciate that this maybe quite a simplistic perception of the problem but hopefully my time studying on this unit can inform my knowledge in this area further.

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I suspect the dimensions of assessment at London College of Fashion have not changed for quite some time, we are approaching revalidation on many of the courses I teach and so how we approach assessment is about to come under review.

On the majority of the courses that I teach they run a final major project throughout the first two terms of the 3rd year, this would typically be making a collection of 6 outfits or creating a range of four shoes (they rarely make pairs). The mark they receive for this and an extended essay they are asked to write are put considered holistically although there is a extremely heavily empahises on the practical side and less on the written. This would account for 75% of their overall mark, as they would then have to under a negotiated brief which account for the other 25%. Within this brief the student defines the outcomes and they are encouraged to focus on a specific area this could sampling, illustration, research or anything else they had shown a particular interest in.

Formative / Summative

A student’s personal tutor would offer feedback on a weekly basis, once a term there would be a formative critique when the students tutor and another member of staff would discuss the students work offering very structured formative criticism that would be officially documented. Summative feedback would be offered at the end of the final major project. The feedback they receive would have no impact on this project as they cannot resubmit but it could help form there approach for the negotiated brief that follows.

Formal / Informal

We would define the marking style as formal. But as the tutor who taught a student would primarily be responsible for marking the students work they would inevitable by influenced by the perceptions of the students they had formed through over the year. This is often highlighted by the discrepancies when new we benchmark as sometimes it is hard to look objectively on a students work who may have developed a rapport with over the year.

Product / Process

We mark the final product being their collections, we also mark the process work which takes the form of their portfolio and tech files. An equal number of marks go towards these documents does the collection, however many of the students see these aspects as an afterthought so they enviably get pulled down in assessment. One of the key aspects of my role is instilling the importance of their portfolios and the need to document their process

Continuous / Terminal

All of the marking for the 3-year BA degrees I teach with is done with the final three months. There are there are arguments both for and against terminal approach. On one hand it gives them complete carte blanche to explore their ideas throughout the first two years even if they sometimes end in failure, as they knowing that as long as the pass they will have a clean slate by the third year. On the other hand three years of education is resting on the outcome of the final major project and negotiated brief, I have seen many strong and conscientious students suffer with immense stress.

Standardised / Authentic

The assessment is authentic as the outcomes of the learning and teaching exercises that the engage are directly assessed. The assessment is also aligned to activate that they would engage in if they worked in industry.

Internal / External

Initially the marking is done internally with a tutor marking their students work. Then each tutor takes an example of what they view as a top, intermediate and bottom candiate. The examples are them compared and discussed, we can then calibrated the marking rectifying if someone has been to generous or harsh with the marking so there is consistent approach for all students. Once all marking is done internally we then offer a sample across the grad spectrum for external review.

Norm referenced / Criterion Referenced

Our system is norm referenced, this approach has its strengths and weaknesses. The number of people we have receiving top grades remains consistent year by year so, but if we have a particularly strong year, a student who receives a 2.1, could theoretically achieve a 1st if they submitted the exact same project the following year when there may be a weaker cohort. This also works in reverse as a student in a weaker year group may find it easier to receive top grades.


I since moving to the position I do not actively involved in any facet of the marking process, and the facets that I each are never explicitly marked. I think there needs to be a overhaul in the process and marking and feedback and hope to research and develop ideas around this in my teaching development project



I read “Creativity: What Is It? Can You Assess It?  Can It Be Taught?” by Lars Lindström and found it be very enlightening. Before reading this piece, I was definitely of the mindset that creativity was something that was innate and intangible and therefore difficult
to assess.

I teach across a wide number of different fashion courses, I believe there is the assumption that students on arts based degrees would all want to be exercise as much creativity as possible within the framework of the course, but this is not always the case. Matthew Richardson wrote on his threshold concepts blog post

“Perhaps though most students come onto the course to learn to be stylists?”

As I conceded in my last post, this was certainly true of myself in the early part of my time in higher education and I have certainly seen many other examples of it in my teaching practise. There are some students who are not interested in creative risk taking; instead they are more concerned in observing what is the current trend or the established orthodoxy and emulating it. Some do this as they only want to engage with there discipline at a surface level and maybe enjoy the status of being a designer more the act of designing, while there are others who focus on the use of materials and techniques over pursuing original ideas.

I had personally found it hard in terms of assessment to differentiate between the students who I perceived to have exercised more creativity and those who have not when their finished product may be to a similar level in terms of craftsmanship. If I use Lindström 7 criteria of assessment it could help me quantify it in future

Like in the example of the Swedish schools when trying to ascertain the level of creativity we often look to the students portfolios. One areas of focus is how they research and how they use their various references to construct new ideas.

Beneath I will take the 4 performance levels of the 6th criteria Ability to use Models and reword them so they could be applicable to assessing the research element of the portfolios on the BA Womenswear course on which I teach. My performance levels will show in bold.

Shows no interest in other people’s pictures and cannot benefit from them even when the teacher has helped find them.

Despite encouragement from the academic staff, there has been no research undertaken. Student has instead relied on their existing knowledge and preconceptions of the area.

The student shows an interest in other people’s pictures that she or the teacher has found, but she confines herself to copying them.

The students research is based on contemporary publications in which trends and ideas have already been established and can be easily extrapolated
and aped.

Makes active efforts to find pictures for her own work. Demonstrates an ability to select images that suit her intentions

Uses research from a variety of sources that begins to build a cohesive narrative that informs her collection.

Actively searches out models to emulate and can use them in her work in a multifaceted, independent and well integrated way.

The student has immersed herself in researching a rich variety of cultural and academic sources. Their findings inform the decision making at every stage of
the project.

I found Lindström observation that ‘assessment of processes of learning requires the students’ thoughts to be made accessible in a more explicit way than normally happens’, fascinating. When marking the third year students final major project the personal tutor of each student does the initial marking, then we benchmark, a process in which each tutor offers an example of one of there top, intermediate and bottom students for review by the other academic staff to insure consistency in marking, there are often big discrepancies. When Lindström faced a similar problem he addressed it by supplementing the logbooks with videotapes of interviews of the students, by doing this different assessors finally arrived at similar results.

When we had conflict over marking previously I had presumed that is was due to the personal tastes of the tutors or even tutors favouring their own students, but Lindström’s findings indicate that perhaps the issue lays with the system of assessment and the only possible way to truly understand the creativity of a student engage in a dialogue with them, as this gives the student an opportunity to show their own capacity for self-assessment of the creative thinking behind their work.

I think using the criteria Lindström defines will definitely give me a key to unlocking marking creativity, but it has also made me consider that introducing interviewing as part of final assessment maybe would be the only way to bring about total parity across marking.

Communities of Practice

To offer some context to the communities of practice that I am involved with I am going to outline my rather chaotic career path. Feel free to skip this bit ( it is a little self indulgent ) and hop on to the deep critical insight I will be offering from paragraph 7 onwards.

I initially went to study fine art at university, within months I realised that I had made a mistake, the life of struggling artist did not appeal to me and If I was ever going to sustain my shoe/trainer addiction, I was perhaps going to have to switch to some thing that there was more chance of me achieving gainful employment upon graduation, whilst still hopefully managing to exercise some creativity.

I suspected that Fashion would have been a better fit but with the absence of any such course in that field my current University (Leeds Metropolitan University). I decided to transfer Graphic Arts and Design, which was basically a graphic design course in which you never received briefs, instead we had to negotiated a agreement with a tutors about what we were going to do term by term, which could be quite literally anything. I decided I was to become a fashion illustrator. The first few months I bashed through the usual fashion illustration clichés, Charles Anastase (fashion illustrator) who was all the rage at the time, so I begun drawing wistful girls with delicately rendered hair in pencil and contrasted with bold graphic decorations, it was the most derivative work imaginable. By the second year my work moved away from the hand drawing and I began to construct elaborate sets and prop and began art-directing shoots. My work was always slightly adrift from what everyone else on the course although I had a deep appreciation for what some of the other students produced.

By the time I was ready to graduate I felt I had really found a unique style and a way of working, however within a few months took a job in the art department of a publisher who had initially commissioned for illustration and styling work, within days of the appointment I was working on the layout of publications with absolutely no experience of editorial design, it was a baptism of fire, whilst this is not what I anticipated I would be doing on graduation I really enjoyed developing a whole new skill set. After a very formative year of this I decided to go back to education and apply on the MA in Graphic Communications course at Central Saint Martins). I had planned to further develop my art direction and prop styling work, but again this did not go as expected.

I had always had an interest in youth sub cultures so I decided to work on a map of how all the visual styling of all the different subcultures influenced each other and lead to the evolution of their styles. This project was meant to take 6 weeks, but ended up filling the whole 2-year MA. People involved in the various subcultural groups were interviewed, physical example of every garment that was discussed were found and documented, and from this a map was drawn showing how they all the connection between the 150 groups I had identified. The project ultimately became about researching and information design, something that I had never previously had any natural inclination for. Every Monday I would attend very intensive daylong seminars with very focused group of type and information designers.

By the time I had finished this make MA I wanted to do something less theory based. I was given the opportunity to produce on an installation in City Hall, based around ideas of water sustainability in fashion. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to do this so I called up one of my friends form my BA, who I thought I could bounce some ideas off. He ended up taking on this project together and it turned out to be quite successful working relationship.

From this we were asked to do a set for a designer for her London Fashion Week show, it was decided that this set would work better used within a film than a traditional show. At some point somehow settled that we would also film this, despite the fact that neither of us knew how to film or edit anything, so pulled in the only person we knew who had any idea of how to use a camera, he also happened to be from our BA. We thought we better get a studio to film it in so we took on the contract for an old factory unit in Hackney Wick. The space was a total wreck so we asked another person we had studied with who specialized in screen printer (who had managed to construct a DIY screen print exposure unit, bed and rack his garage) to help us as we knew he had some sort of carpentry skills. The film was completed and shown at Somerset House as part of Fashion week, it was widely regarded as a bit of pretentious disaster, but it opened up many other opportunities a helped us formulate our community of practice.

Three years latter and we are still in the studio, but now there are 8 of us (7 of which studied together in Leeds). We all work separately and collectively.  When people enquire as to the set up were never quite sure what to call it as it lacked the traditional structure of a design studio, but after reading Etienne Wenger piece it maybe feels like a quite closely knit community of practice.

Etienne Wenger 3 characteristics to our community of practice can be applied to what
we do.

Our Domain is design (which umbrellas editorial, print, digital and environment) but more specifically we are bound by an approach to design. As we studied on a very broad Graphics BA there was allot of cross festination, and this has followed use through to our professional practice. When one of us who is from an illustrative background is involved in a typographic project or someone with set design background works on moving image project, unconventional outcomes to the projects are often found.

Whenever we work independently we discuss what we are doing, help each other and share information. These interactions were essential to making our community of practice

We all share resources like equipment, contract templates, accountants and contacts. We also share skills, when we initially started working together only one person could screen print, now all (albeit not to the same level) have that skill, the same applied to
camera work.

This community of practice is very core to my professional life, but I am engaged in many other communities of practice to different levels, from the people I studied with on my MA to the designers I meet through publishing. Below I have inserted a close up of part of my MA project and I can find similarities between the grouping of subculture and the structure of the communities of practice I am now involved in.

At LCF I have been charged with the responsibility to try and encourage communities of practice, the initiative has been titled “Creative Connections’

The initial concept being was to get the students to come together and discuss their work  so they could offer each other guidance and support that would hopefully continue into there professional lives. The events are across the various disciplines as we were keen to develop relationships across the various courses so that they could share information, expertise that is unique to their specific discipline. There is a culture throughout the university that being a designer is a solo pursuit and that we hope these events will help challenge this as some of the most important designers of the last 25 years have broke through as groups. The Antwerp 6 who studied at Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-1981 and broke through after group showing in London in 1988, the support they gave each other could have been defined as a community of practise. While our Communities of practise event at LCF is only in there infancy (there have only been two so far which worked as talking shops) I am looking forward to trying to develop them further and maybe try and mack them more activities based to further engage the student body.

Thresholds Concepts

Those regular readers of this blog may know from my first scintillating post that I am a Lecturer who teaches across a wide number of courses across the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion. I am offering you two examples of what I deem to be threshold concepts across my teaching practice (Ambassador you are spoiling us, I imagine the cry.)

Across the various foundation degrees that are within the school there is a brief that is regularly used in various guises and I suspect has been knocking around for quite some years. In which the students are given a name of a Fashion Designer who shows at one of the various fashion weeks (London, Paris, Milan and New York) and asks them to design what they would imagine a collaboration between there given designer and a high street retailer.

The fashion media perhaps warps the perceptions of what Fashion Designers do in the minds aspiring young and in there first year many of them imagine that they will ultimately be designing collections that are only limited by there own imaginations which will then be retailed. This brief introduces them to important threshold concepts the idea of diffusion.

We are bombarded with press coverage about fashion houses collaborating with the high street, this resulting in overnight queues like those seen for the Martin Margiela and H&M collaboration this week. The students are already aware of this and understand the motives. In the research phase we ask the student to unpick the idea further, by comparing the runway collection of the high priced designers and compare how these same collection translate into the various boutiques and high-end department stores that stock them directly.

By asking them to do this we are hoping that they will make the discovery that diffusion happens at every market level. The collections shown on the runway and those available for retail do not always correlate. Many of the pieces are only intended for the shows or loan to fashion magazines to garner press coverage and subsequently raise the brand profile. As they could never be made as the costing would be too high. The collections are often channeled into more commercial pieces and in many instances the collections will have been almost totally redesigned for retail consumption. So when designers are accused of selling out by working with huge high street chains they are not doing anything that is not deeply entrenched within there own labels already.

It is important to introduce this concept at an early stage so they can begin to consider how they may structure their collections outside on the cocoon of education.  Often when students understand this concept they let it empower there future work making more sophisticated and considered collections, understanding both the importance of both brand creation and commercial viability.

This example hopefully fulfils the criteria of a threshold concept as it

Troublesome as it can shatter preconceptions, and anchors Fashion in the design idiom and pulls it away from fine art sensibilities, what may look like artistic statements are often marketing exercises.

Iterative as it exposes the previously potentially hidden mechanics of the fashion industry.

Transformative once understood, its potential effects upon student learning as they understand their role as designers.


I my second example draws upon my earlier teaching career when I was asked to cover a term teaching the students how to do fashion specification drawings in Adobe Illustrator.

Most students are familiar with how to use the program Adobe Photoshop as it use has crept far beyond the realms of photography. When asked to create a spec or line drawing of a garment the usual first port of call would be to open up this program select the brush tool and use the cursor to draw on screen in the same way that you would with a pencil on paper. It can be quite hard to get clean smooth line or curve with the use of this tool also Photoshop is developed for bitmap editing so drawings will appear to pixelate if scaled up much beyond the initially defined proportions.

I had to introduce them to using Illustrator, Photoshop’s sister program which output is vector based. There is a conceptual leap from one program to the other, Photoshop is on the surface more intuitive as it apes mark making on the page where as with illustrator you define a start and end point and pull the adjoining line into a Bézier curve, if a curve is desired (The name is taken the French engineer Pierre Bézier, who in 1962 used the mathematical algorithm to design automobile bodies) These curves can be scaled infinitely and be edited with ease. In essence you are stated where you are starting then stating where you to end and then you define the trajectory of line between.

Using this one tool in Illustrator is the key to unlocking the use of the whole program and those who invest the time reap the rewards. Many students are turned off straight away as it is not how they used to drawing it is troublesome knowledge.

I must confess that throughout my studies I was one such student, I went to one lesion got very frustrated as I had always had a natural ability to draw and using this seemed to hinder that, so I never returned. Professionally I had always managed to find a way to mask this shortcoming. It was not until I was asked to spend a term teaching the students how to use it (as I was understood to be an expert in the area after a fraudulent boast on my C.V) that I had the motivation to learn it.

When I did get to grips with it,  every facet of my practise was enriched.

For me this was Troublesome as it challenged my former approach

Transformative as it forever changed my practise

Irreversible as it unlikely to be forgotten

Integrative as it uncovered the relationship between vector and rasterized graphics that is inhertent to all print and digital design.

Constructive Alignment

I was obsessed by Lego as a child, playing with it for days on end. I suspect this experience has been a guiding factor in my choice of career.

When my mother gave my sister and I our first Lego set, had she told us, ‘We would like to judge which of you is best at building Lego castles.’ By way of teaching she read the instructions aloud and asked us to repeat these instructions back to her. To assess our Castle building prowess they then quizzed us on our knowledge of the memorised instructions. This would be Criterion Referenced Assessment.

If she had alternatively shown us the picture of the castle on the box and said ‘I would like to build something that resembles this’ (intended learning outcome). Then informed us that ‘I would like you to experiment with putting blocks together’ (teacher managed, teaching and learning activity.) If she had then asked us to build our castles (assessment task) with my outcome being a 4 turreted structure and my sisters being a large round creation with a moat.  Following this feedback was given on our efforts and then we were asked  ‘What do you think you have learnt and how do you do you think you could improve next time’ this would have been Constructive Alignment.

Thankfully she opted for something closer to the second scenario.

There are 4 key elements to the designing a Constructive Aligned assessment.
1: The student needs to know they are going to get out of the activity
2: The student needs to have the capacity to be able complete the activity
3: The teaching and learning activity needs to be relevant to the assessment.
4: The feedback needs to be formative so the learner can reflect and improve upon
their practise.

This teaching methodology is more inclusive as it focuses less on competition and accommodates for a range of learning outcomes. The learner is in charge of there own education; the teacher role is to moderate and ensure that their TLAs, ALOs and ATs are all aligned.

In my own teaching practise I do not use a pure constructively aligned model but I do practise something similar that does adhere to some of the principles.

In the final year on the BA Fashion Womenwear the students first two terms are taken up with their Final Major Project, that involves them creating 6 complete outfits for the internal runway show, this is supported by a portfolio. For the final term they have to do A Negotiated Personal Development Brief, which is supposed to give further breadth to the students skill set to hopefully improve future employability.

They first pick which 1 of 5 groups they want to be a part of; each of the separate groups has a different specialisms. I am the tutor for the Fashion Image Making group.

The students are briefed to research an area of interest over the Easter Break. For the first session after they return we discuss as a group what each students specific area of interest is as a group and what their intended learning outcomes may be. These ILOs can be anything from a film, to a series of drawing or performance. They are informed that they need to document both their research and design development over the course of the 6-week project.  Each week the group reconvenes and discusses the development in an informal seminar environment and feedback is given.

By the end of the project the intended learning outcomes are often radically different to what was initially stated. In many instance the documentation of the process is the most exciting facet of the projects.

This project is perhaps the most unpredictable in regards to marking. We often find student shifting by 2 grade bands either way, whilst some students who may of felt that they had a skill which they could not directly apply to there strictly Fashion Design based projects relish the chance to explore their potential in a new area. In contrast some students who have been consistently strong throughout (when working in a more structured environment with clearly defined project requirements and assessment criteria) can become paralysed by the freedom, however the overall outcome is that the mean of grades is improved from the previous unit.

I watched the Brabrand and Anderson film, ‘Teaching teaching & understanding understanding’ on YouTube. This film did help clarify my understanding of the area. I think the reason for the films effectiveness (receiving 56 likes to 4 dislikes) is that it wraps up the ideas into a story. The use of narratives is often the most engaging way of conveying cognitively complex systems. I also really enjoyed the bubbling sexual tension between Robert and Susan.

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