An examination of student formative assessment and face to face feedback in studio-based design education



Design Education Strategy


  • assessment, teaching approaches, learning approaches

Over the last two decades we have seen the designer‘s role and brief broaden. Through the introduction of the personal computer, the Internet and wireless technology and social networking, we all have experienced dramatic changes, especially in our rapport with space, time, the physicality of objects, and ourselves as individuals. Today, with the expansion in student numbers and a reducing resource in Higher Education how the studio-based design pedagogic community responds and adapts its teaching and learning methodologies in response to these rapid developments and effectively utilises feedback opportunities to inform curriculum is key in ensuring that students understand and are equipped for the profession they are entering.

Although there has been a good deal of literature around feedback, assessment and learning in pedagogic research in Higher Education – (Askew & Lodge. 2000; Baume, Yorke & Coffey, 2004; Biggs, J. 2003; Black & Wiliam, 2003; Harlen & James, 1997; Rust, 2002) together with a growing research body of work around assessment and feedback in studio-based art and design (Austerlitz & Aravot, 2002; Blair, 2003/2004/2006/2007/2009; Davies, 2000/2002; Crooks, 2001; Edstrom, 2008; Shreeve , Baldwin, Faraday, 2003; Blythman & Orr, 2005; Orr, 2007) students do not seem to have a common definition of feedback - when they are receiving this and how this informs their learning. What is it about the particular nature of studio-based design learning and teaching which continues to fuel this debate?

The UK National Student Survey (NSS) - a questionnaire filled in by all final year undergraduate students about their learning experiences on their course – indicates that across all disciplines there are issues in relation to feedback and assessment and art and design students, in particular report they do not think they get enough feedback. These issues could be around structures and processes we use such as the relationship of assessment strategies to learning outcomes and may be about faculty and student perceptions and understanding as well as actual practices.

This paper shares the reported findings of a small research project, funded by the UK Art, Design & Media Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy (ADM-HEA) exploring student assessment delivered through both the formative and ipsative feedback available to students. The project was researched and analysed by myself and my colleague Allan Davies.

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