Unit 02: TDP — Identify a problem and construct a research question

What problem, challenge or issue have you identified within your teaching practice that will form the basis for your Teaching Development Project?

Throughout art and design education students are expected to communicate their ideas clearly. This discourse takes place in many situations; one to one tutorials, group tutorials, group crits and peer to peer. Equipping the students with the necessary vocabulary, understanding and confidence to engage and benefit from these interactions is a key learning objective.

A crit is an integral part of art & design education. Throughout the Foundation course students experience a crit either as a one to one tutorial, in a small group tutorial, generally in the context of Unit 7 in groups of 4 to 6, or a larger group crit with up to as many as 34 students.

Units 5&6 of the foundation course constitute of 7 one-week projects; at the end of each project the outcome(s) and supporting work (sketchbooks, mock-ups, reflective journal, research) are exhibited for a group crit. I find a group crit both large and small a challenge, the problems I have encountered are:

  • The ‘uncomfortable silence’ which I feel the need to fill, thus I end up doing too much of the talking.
  • Some students do not say anything, others too much!
  • International students find it very difficult to contribute if they are not confident with their English language skills.
  • In a class size of 30+ talking about each students work can take up hours.
  • Students feel disenfranchised if their work has not been spoken about.
  • Maintaining a rhythm, momentum and energy.
  • The quality of feedback tends to be superficial and not meaningful, e.g. “I like it” or “I agree with what they said…”.
  • Keeping the on topic
  • Not giving the students the time to prepare or properly evaluate the outcomes / supporting work in a structured or meaningful context.
  • The students do not posses the language to be able to fully communicate their views and or ideas.
  • Students do not value the importance or purpose of a group crit.
  • Students get bored and unfocused.

What, briefly, do you plan to do to address this problem?

I intend to explore methods of facilitating a meaningful and valuable group crit for students to actively engage with and leave with written feedback and/or a clear action plan of things to consider, research, read or see…

My current understanding of the purpose of a group crit is to create an arena to validate, discuss, develop and define ideas. Here are some additional initial thoughts on what a crit helps develop within the foundation context:

  • Prompts dialogue to develop
  • Grow and develop skills
  • Language
  • Literacy
  • Development communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Read and interpret visual language

Through discussion with my colleagues and from a brainstorm I identified parameters, which I could impose to assist in addressing my problem:

  • Establish time restrictions
  • Create small groups
  • Enable peer to peer feedback
  • Create an action plan / to do list
  • Hand out a Crit Sheet with key assessment criteria
  • Response to the work is more valuable that talking through the work
  • Always constructive criticism not negatives
  • State 2 Positives and an area for improvement

How will you evaluate your project; i.e. what will you do in order to determine whether your intervention has addressed the problem? What variables or indicators will you measure? How will you measure them?

Pre intervention my intention is to gauge the current perceptions students have on the function and value of a group crit. I will ask for volunteers to establish a student focus group to meet to discuss their experiences and views and document this event. I will also distribute a questionnaire to the cohort to extract their views and experiences.

Post intervention I will hold another meeting with the focus group to feedback on the intervention, I will distribute another questionnaire to the cohort to feedback on the intervention. Time permitting I intend to refine the intervention integrating amends or suggestion the feedback highlights.

Research links

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One Comment

  1. Profile photo of Julie Dennison Julie Dennison
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Paul, I think this is a very clear and focused research project. The problems you identified were perceptive; I relate to a lot of those myself as I am also teaching students in transition who are new to the HE system, language and structure. I think that several of the parameters you have devised would work very well in improving the situation and I expect you will get positive responses from the students in your follow-up focus groups. This is certainly a project which is relatively straightforward to implement that could transform your standard practice for future crits.

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