RESEARCH PROJECTS > CETL: AfL Innitiative Project

Using Assessment for Learning: exploring student learning experiences in the Global Studio

This preoject explored the relationships between assessment for learning elements and student learning experiences in the Global Studio. Using a case study methodology with the aim of compiling rich, practice-based knowledges (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Gherardi, 2006), the project drew on data gathered throughout the development and delivery of the Global Studio.

One aim of the Global Studio was the development of distance communication skills, thereby preparing students for work in geographically distributed workgroups. Thus, an important aspect of the Global Studio was the incorporation of the element of distance between geographically distributed student design teams.

The Assessment for Learning elements (AfL) that were use in the analysis included an emphasis on authentic assessment tasks, the extensive use of ‘low stakes’ confidence building opportunities, the provision of a learning environment that is rich in both formal and informal feedback and the development of students’ abilities to evaluate their own progress (McDowell et al., 2006; Sambell, Gibson, & Montgomery, 2007).

AFL

Using the above assessment for learning framework the project mapped various assessment for learning elements used in the Global Studio. A number of assessment for learning elements were implicitly embedded in the structure and delivery of the Global Studio.

For example, the Global Studio incorporated a number of Assessment for Learning elements such an emphasis on authentic assessment tasks, the extensive use of ‘low stakes’ confidence building opportunities, the provision of a learning environment that is rich in both formal and informal feedback and the development of students’ abilities to evaluate their own progress.

Drawing on student evaluation data the project examined the learning experiences of students participating in the Global Studio. The focus here was on what students considered useful in the Global Studio in terms of learning and the links with assessment for learning elements. This analysis contributed to the collection of ‘rich’ case study material on assessment for learning in Higher Education with a focus on the subject area of design.

The project concluded that the assessment for learning elements used in the analysis provided a useful frame for examining student learning experiences in the Global Studio. Therefore, it is suggest that assessment for learning may provide a useful language for developing ongoing discussion and research in relation to teaching and learning in the subject area of design. For example, the following research questions might be explored: does the design studio, in general, incorporate assessment for learning elements? And if so, how are these contributing to enhanced student learning experiences?

References

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2005). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks (Calif.): Sage Publications.
Gherardi, S. (2006). Organizational Knowledge: The Texture of Workplace Learning. Oxford: Blackwell.
McDowell, L., Sambell, K., Bazin, V., Penlington, R., Wakelin, D., Wickes, H., et al. (2006). Assessment for learning: Current practice exemplars from the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Red Guides No. Paper 22): Northumbria University.
Sambell, K., Gibson, M., & Montgomery, C. (2007). Rethinking feedback: an assessment for learning perspective (Red Guides No. Paper 34): Northumbria University.

A journal paper titled Intersections: The utility of an ‘Assessment for Learning’ discourse for Design educators is available from Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education