Using assessment for learning: exploring student learning experiences in a design studio module.

Bohemia, Erik and Harman, Kerry (2008) Using assessment for learning: exploring student learning experiences in a design studio module. In: Challenging Assessment: Fourth Biennial EARLI/Northumbria Assessment Conference, 27-29 August 2008, Berlin.

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Abstract

This paper explores the relationships between assessment for learning elements and student learning experiences in a design studio module. Our focus is on the Global Studio (Bohemia & Harman, 2008 forthcoming), a design module recently conducted at Northumbria University. Using a case study methodology with the aim of compiling rich, practice-based knowledges (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Gherardi, 2006), we draw on data gathered throughout the development and delivery of a particular design studio module in order to undertake our analysis. In the first part of the paper we briefly describe the Global Studio with a focus on the overall aims and the structure of the module. 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 course was the incorporation of the element of distance between geographically distributed student design teams. We also outline the assessment for learning elements that we use in our analysis. These include 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). Using the above assessment for learning framework we map various assessment for learning elements used in the Global Studio. We suggest in the first section of the paper that a number of assessment for learning elements were implicitly embedded in the structure and delivery of this particular module. In the second part of the paper we explore the relationships between assessment for learning elements (implicitly) used in the module and student learning experiences. Drawing on student evaluation data, both qualitative and quantitative, collected throughout the module we examine the learning experiences of students undertaking the module. Our focus here is on what students considered useful in the module in terms of learning and the links with assessment for learning elements. This analysis contributes to the collection of ‘rich’ case study material on assessment for learning in Higher Education with a focus on the subject area of design. We conclude that the assessment for learning elements used in the analysis provided a useful frame for examining student learning experiences in this particular design studio module. Therefore, we 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?

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > Institute for Work Based Learning
ID Code:7781
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Deposited On:28 Apr 2011 09:10
Last Modified:14 May 2014 10:25

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