Self-Initiated Project Idea

Having completed some units in previous studies where I was unable to transfer credits, I decided to use some of this research for my next unit as this was about assessment and feedback which is an area of particular interest to me.  I also have experience and research from my previous role at a different university which I believe will help with this project.  Unfortunately a laptop catastrophe prevented me updating the content of the previous work which meant I was not as prepared as I would have liked on the day.

From the work I completed previously I found that use of a consistent method of feedback accounted for a small increase in the feedback from students

“Information about assessment was communicated clearly” results were 3.6/6 and increased to 3.8/6.

“Feedback showed me how to improve my work” results were 4.3/6 and increased to 4.4/6

This information was not collected from the same students.

My goal for my self-initated project is to involve students in both formative and summative assessment with the aim of them valuing feedback for the content – rather than just the grade, engaging more with their own continuous development, understanding what feedback really means and finally enabling them to assessors of their own work taking greater control of their learning.

6th June 2018 teaching session

The beginning of this session started by some group work regarding the elective units which I am not doing.  The aim was to share some reading or research and get the group to answer 3 questions on the piece.  I chose a piece of student work that I thought might interest the group.

Password: fashionstrategy

The students who produced these Pecha Kucha’s managed to include a huge amount of thought provoking content in 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

I posed the following questions:

  1. Does this subject relate to your own course?
  2. How viable is it for UAL to teach so many fashion courses when this is the second biggest cause of landfill?
  3. How do we get students to think about making sustainability a focus of their studies?

The next part of the session enabled us to begin our reflective statements which I was very pleased about as I had been worried about what these would entail.

It was good to have some time in class to work as I often find the pressures of life and work create delays in me being able to start work for the PGCert and I have sometimes forgotten what I am supposed to do.

It was useful to learn that we could use one example to cover 1, 2 or 3 of the reflections as I think it would be difficult to get any depth in 500 words if different examples needed to be used.

I decided to use the same example for the first two reflections and a different one for the final.

My thinking during the session began around how I have begun to explain to students about ‘unpicking’ a brief:

The images show how essentially ‘dull’ slides are annotated to help students who are largely visual learners to make sense of what they need to do and how to identify the meaning of the language used.

I am feeling much more confident now about my ability to complete this task!

 

 

Band Descriptors Task April session

First lesson learned – complete the blog post closer to the session as I am struggling to remember this session!

The topic and activity evolved around grade descriptors.  I have done a lot of work on the explanation of these in my teaching as I often find students just can’t decipher these.  However, it’s my opinion that the major issue behind this is that unless they can relate it to the subject or assessment they are learning it doesn’t matter how many times you explain they need a context.

Interestingly, I felt the same when doing the exercises in this session.  Having an example as a measure would have helped because the criteria is not used in isolation it is used to measure the performance of a piece of work.  It made sense to only consider a few in the exercises as we all agreed that some of the differences between the grades were marginal.

At the end of the session we all did a short presentation in groups and then graded ourselves on the scale using 3 descriptors, mine is below.

I used one of my lectures where I explain grading criteria to students as this seemed appropriate for the session (2 example slides below).  One of the participants is an academic support tutor and she found this very useful as she often coaches business school students.

Once we had written our own descriptors we then used our own measures to critique our performance.  Our peers in the group used different coloured post it notes to measure.

What I learned is that some of the criteria is hard to measure for certain tasks.  I guess I knew this but it was a different experience when it was me that was being measured.  We had chosen 3 descriptors; analysis, communication and presentation and collaborative and/or independent professional working.

Personally I scored highly in the latter 2 and less so in the analysis.  The suggestions to improve the analysis were examples of what good looked like.  I am always reticent to show students previous years work for fear that the brief has changed or that they copy but it made me realise it would be good to have a ‘dummy’ piece of work or possibly an example from a different brief.  This would allow me to demonstrate the evidence of the grading criteria.  I am planning to try this going forward.

The rest of my group embraced my solution of how to explain grading to students and thought it was  a great idea.  I have had feedback from my students that they like this too and can use to it refer back to when they are unsure of what is expected from them.

My group also felt that I had evidenced collaborative working well as I have effectively already re-written grading criteria (which was what we were doing in the session) for the very same reasons we were doing it.

Micro Teaching Sessions 21st March part 2

During the session I viewed about 6 presentations.

I really enjoyed Jason’s as the content was so linked to the subjects I teach and I have never seen a pair of Pinatex shoes, but have always wanted to.

The slides were beautifully produced which is always great when you are presenting potentially ‘dry’ subjects.  His use of technology; images, infographics and film clips is always considered and informative.

KEY TAKEAWAY

I would like to try and incorporate the use of mixed media more in my teaching and push this to the boundaries of the equipment available.

Rebecca’s session was very interactive and involved asking the group to perform 5 drawings of a glass.  I thought the idea was brilliant but I know I was not a willing participant.  I am a TERRIBLE artist and being asked to draw in a room where the majority are practising artists made me feel uncomfortable. I just really don’t like drawing.

Interestingly, I think the reason this happened was similar to a reflection I had on my own micro teaching session, i.e, that it’s easy to assume everyone has the same basic knowledge.

KEY TAKEAWAY

An easy solution to fix the above would be to deliver he exercise in pairs, there would have been no pressure on individuals if this had happened and is certainly something I will think about.

I was not able to attend Maisie’s session but it seems from her blog post that she shares the same feeling about ensuring that the outcomes were made clearer.

I really enjoyed Nicola’s session about gender and Barbie.  The delivery and content was interestingly provocative and did an amazing job of questioning my own thinking.  The use of symbolism was introduced clearly in relation to gender roles.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Try to find symbolic items or exercises that everyone can relate to.  I think this would have been useful for me in my own teaching session.  I thought I had achieved this with a handbag but looking back I should have done the exercise using a fashion and non fashion object rather than running another exercise simultaneously.

 

Micro Teaching Presentation 21st March 2018

Planning for this was hard!  I was procrastinating about even beginning.  Actually I didn’t really know where to start.  I realised that because I have so much teaching material I rarely have to start ‘from scratch’.  Usually when I am planning a lecture or seminar I know the topic and expected end result.  With this I had to make it up myself and this was what I found hard.  The time was also posing a problem.  What I teach comes from 22 years of industry experience; its very hard to condense even a small part into 10 minutes.

With little time left I remembered a useful planning tool I learnt when I began studying my PGCert some 5 years ago…….

engestrom

I used this to plan my subject and suddenly everything fell into place.  The actual session then only took a short time to produce.

MICRO TEACHING SESSION

This session incorporated some tried and tested teaching techniques which I felt confident at delivering considering I had no guinea pigs for a test run and little time to practise.

On the day of the session I was busy, rushing and worried about leaving to pick up my children – resulting in a lack of focus on the task in hand.

I revisited the Engestrom planning cycle to see what I would have done differently:

The words in red are where I felt I needed to give greater consideration in my planning.  I had forgotten the group, although mainly working at UAL, would not have the same industry knowledge or comprehension of fashion business that I have.  I also realised that I forgot to explain the outcomes at the beginning – this is something I rarely have to do because my seminars follow lectures although I would always do this for a lecture.

This is an image of the feedback given in the session and how I grouped the comments:

Feedback seemed to be grouped into 4 areas:

Specific content – comments related to the sustainability and production of the item and best practice.

General positives – presentation style, relaxed delivery, good use of props and interesting subject, relevance to big picture demonstrated.

Specific positives – good subject knowledge, concluded well, industry relevance, interactive.

Improvements – speed of delivery too fast, opening explanation and session outcomes needed, clarification of some terminology, swop the tasks.

Overall I was pleased with how the session went.

What I learnt?

Don’t assume everyone has the same basic understanding as you.

Be clear about session outcomes.

Don’t rush!

Practice timings.

 

April Pre-Session Reading Task – Ron Barnett’s 2007 book ‘A Will to Learn’, Chapter 8

On the second page (p102), pause to consider the following questions:

1. How do you recognise Barnett’s ‘qualities’ in the context of a course you work with? Think of a couple of examples.

Important QualitiesNot Important Qualities
Courage – definitely. It is incredibly hard to move away from home and enter into a new non-compulsory environment with few rules and regulations and suddenly take responsibility for the organisation and future proofing of your life. Very important to my course as this is often a new subject to students and their understanding is limited.Integrity – I don’t really understand why this is important, integrity is about the ability to know oneself and form the best opinions and make the ‘right’ decisions, this is an unacceptable expectation to have from 18 yr olds who are lacking in life experience. As usual this philosophical point of view seems to be written by someone who has ‘forgotten’ what it was like to be a teenager indeed if they ever were.
Definition:
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
the state of being whole and undivided
Resilience – This is a good one. Studying is not just the education, it’s the whole self-management and survival in a new world. Definitely, students are hear by choice so self-motivation is key and dealing with outside pressures and trying to stop these interfering with studies is very difficult. Carefulness – this would simply not be a word I would ever consider in relation to studying. Not relevant to my course.
Self-discipline – some of this is needed but also some free expression. Compulsory education is very inflexible, offering students little opportunity to explore outside the curriculum. A good BA course should encourage this.Restraint – what? No idea what this is about. Why and for what purpose would you want students to restrain themselves? Not relevant to my course.
Respect for others – very important. Although this will be ‘their’ degree, often obtaining this qualification relies on the co-operation and input from others. I am a firm believer that students learn as much peer to peer as they do from tutors. Learning in an international, multi-cultural environment enriches education and the learning opportunities and should be considered as invaluable.Openness – maybe. I’m not sure this is a top 10 quality. This is about a lack of secrecy and honesty. This is important but not necessarily paramount. I don’t really see this as important on my course.

2. To what extent do you recognise Barnett’s ‘dispositions’ in your own approach to learning? Assuming this varies, what influences them?

Dispositions
A will to learn – quite difficult, this is only easy for me when the subject interests me. I have worked in the same industry all my working life (clearly I love it) and anything that informs my teaching is fascinating to me. However, when I am trying to help my daughter with algebra I have no interest in learning how to do this.

A will to engage – I get easily distracted. I am massively time poor and this means unless the subject appeals to my interest I am frustrated that sometimes I ‘have’ to do it when actually I’m not interested.

A preparedness to listen – I’m quite good at this, I learn by listening although my attention span is quite short.

A preparedness to explore – Very much so, I like working with other people from varied backgrounds and enjoy sharing ideas and listening to their points of view.

A willingness to hold oneself open to experiences – I don’t think this is different from the above

A determination to keep going forward – I suppose. I wouldn’t consider myself as a reflective person so I think this is just naturally the way I am.

What influences my disposition: – time, interest, the end result, relatability.

 

Once you’ve finished, take a look at UAL’s Creative Attributes Framework and have a think about the following:

1. Are UAL’s Creative Attributes more like Barnett’s ‘qualities’? Or his ‘dispositions’? Is it just a question of phrasing? Comment on a couple of examples.

UAL CAFDispositionQuality
ProactivitySelf-Disciplined
EnterpriseCourage
AgilityA determination to keep going forwardResilience
CommunicationA preparedness to listen
ConnectivityA will to engage
Storytelling
CuriosityA preparedness to exploreOpenness
Self-EfficacyA willingness to hold oneself open to experience
ResilienceResilience

2. The Creative Attributes are explicitly focused on employability and enterprise, i.e. on preparing students for socially useful occupations. What valuable attributes (‘creative’ or otherwise) can you think of that aren’t employment-focused?

I find this impossible. I just don’t think it’s a valuable argument in today’s society to suggest anyone goes £50k + into debt for any other reason than to gain a better job.

3. How are these attributes taught and/or learned at UAL?

My course is vocationally focussed so this is an impossible question to answer. I think this question is aimed at people who don’t have to consider the financial implications of studying.

4. Barnett’s ‘qualities and dispositions’ are about learning, and the CAF is about creative practice. Are they more or less similar than you would expect, given this difference?

They are more similar than I expected. Creative practice is always going to be more outreaching, ie, less about the individual. Learning is more concerned with the self. Creative practice always has an element of audience participation and engagement.

5. How do these ideas connect with the theory you’ve been encountering on your elective unit (if you are doing one)?

I am not doing one.

 

Session 2 Pre Reading Munday

This piece seemed to start with some political motivation but interestingly questioned whether education should be taught as a solution to problems.  this belief seems to be directly suited to subject contents that has a right or wrong answer; namely maths and some science. I couldn’t think of much else.  I doubt any teachers of creative subjects would share this view.  As I often like to think, there would be no internet without creative thinking.

My takeaways from this reading broadly fell into three categories: The Puzzle of Learning, Obstacles that Prevent Learning, Classroom Management.

The Puzzle of Learning

Learning is like a puzzle (Munday 2012) – I found this to be a great analogy, you have to find the pieces in the right order that works for you.

I think certain techniques to facilitate learning work differently depending on the subject, the group and your own mood on that day.  Describing the classroom as a place of mystery (Marcel 1949). You can never quite anticipate what your students are going to say, do or understand, so the need for different learning techniques becomes imperative.

However, a mystery is not always a problem, some people like to create a mystery because it excites them or drives them. It is there way of stimulating interest and a desire to learn more.

Mystery and problem solving are not always polar opposites. Mystery may not want to be solved.  It seems hard to quantify and maybe an explanation is not always needed. It depends on your perspective; are you scientific and expecting cause and effect or more creative and ‘going with the flow’?

Obstacles that Prevent Learning

Munday included some of his reflections about his own teaching:

“Here are some of the things I was advised to do during my year of teacher education.

1) plan everything to the finest detail – some of us were given a book that
outlined the 50 essential components of lesson planning.

2) Create seating plans for students.

3) present clear learning objectives and outcomes.

4) differentiate materials to accommodate particular needs.

5) give the students rewards (if there were any) for good work/behaviour.

6) produce classroom contracts that students could sign in the first lesson.

This list of techniques seems to me to resonate strongly with Marcel‘s account of the phenomenology of having. It is as though the classroom presents itself as something that I must struggle to contain. What I ―have can always be taken away, my control being the most obvious case in point. Things are always in danger of spilling over and therefore I must make every effort to try and instil a permanency in regards to order.”

In my experience this, initially, is what is needed, however reflecting on some experimental activities I have tried lead me to believe that at undergraduate level students engage better when they feel more connected and more in control of their learning.

This is a link to a teaching session I ran in my previous job where I was trying to get the students to appreciate the opportunity of learning in a multi-cultural classroom.  The students were given a brief set of instructions;

  1. Get into groups of 3 ensuring you are all different nationalities.
  2. Discuss what fashion is like in your home country.
  3. After the time limit report back.

All students managed to ‘learn’ something new about fashion that they didn’t know before and as a consequence began the next project in multi-national groups knowing that the individual backgrounds of the team members would add to project.

Classroom Management

There were several references throughout where control of the classroom environment was discussed.  The first point that occurred to me was at the beginning.  “researchers who like to make analogies between schools and hospitals (see Darling-Hammond and Bransford, 2005) may see the classroom as a ―ward”. However, most teachers are responsible for classes of 20-30 or more pupils/students. A nurse, doctor, or indeed a parent would not be expected to be single-handedly responsible for such numbers.

Munday goes on to say “I stopped treating students (including those diagnosed as problem students) as obstacles to be overcome. Consequently, the classroom itself could become a living breathing organism.”  He follows this up wiyh his own reflection which resonated with my own view,  “It is up to the teacher to manufacture the conditions under which this can happen.2

Do students learn better when they construct their own learnings? This needs some more thought.

Session 1 Pre Reading Palmquist

Reading:

Palmquist, S. 2004. Kant’s Ideal of the University as a Model for World Peace. In: International Conference on Two Hundred Years after Kant. (20-22 November, Tehran, Iran: Allame Tabataba’i University). [Online]. References are assumed the page numbers are printed 1-12.

I found this impossible! I can’t relate to male-dominated religious institutions in 1798 and my own experience at university as a student and now as a lecturer. As I didn’t understand this relationship I decided to think about conflict and it’s position at a university.

When I studied (in the last century) universities were centres of political unrest and a passion to change the world. I don’t see this anymore. There have been some media reports of terrorist organisations using educational establishments to recruit. This is the first time there has been any politics reported on campus for many years. During my own student days we protested; poll tax, student loans, university fees. We did not accept the norm. The conflict was felt in ripples through our student unions and in our studios.

I must admit these protests often were “a free trip to London” but they made national news headlines and showed the power of the generation, we were not lost. Can I imagine today’s students participating? No is my simple answer. Their focus is different, the ‘me’ generation (TIME, 2013), “They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment but because they’re growing up without one.” Their conflict is the internal, personal struggle and not what they perceive in the world.

Palmquist quotes, “As technology advances, governments have become more adept at killing off their perceived enemies and less willing to sit down with them and dialogue until they reach the point where they can find a way to live in peace in spite of their conflicting perspectives”. Technology has definitely allowed us to hide behind words to communicate and not have to face the challenge of a direct question. How often have I sat in a classroom knowing that the group of 25 know the answer, yet not one vocalises the answer. He goes on to suggest that Kant would propose that universities have failed to be “instruments of peace”. From my perspective I think that this ideology just became less of a priority for the education system that has inevitably become results driven. It is no wonder the number of students attaining higher classifications has increased:

We are all being encouraged to become eco-warriors to save our planet, particularly in educational institutions, yet we seem to be failing to take steps to stop self-destruction. Is this a result of a the balance or imbalance of power? I don’t think so.

Session 1 Pre Reading Aoun

Aoun, J. 2017. A Learning Model for the Future. In Higher education in the age of artificial intelligence. MIT Press. pp45-75.

I found this a relatively easy piece of reading, some of which I found I agreed with, this piece was to the point and informative. My interest was attracted immediately where the author began talking about the job market. It is my belief (not always shared) the a main objective of undergraduate study is to improve an individual’s chances of securing a step on the ladder of a career that appeals to them.

As a relatively recent recruit to HE I am interested in the link between the progressive state of the macro environment and how we prepare our students to survive ‘out there’. I shared the view that we just can’t imagine the future; when the United Kingdom was full of textile mills I am sure the workers could not imagine a world where machinery made and controlled clothing manufacture, sometimes remotely from a different country.

I found parts slightly idealistic, “much of the world remains terra incognita. There is more to find….”. This is maybe true for some industries but in fashion much of the world has already been exploited for textile manufacture. Although this was brought up again later in the article when by a quote from the World Economic Forum “65% of children entering primary school will eventually work in jobs that do not yet exist”. Highlighting that we do not always know what the future will hold.

The section on divergent thinking struck a chord with my own current experience. I teach across all year groups (1-3), the final years being by far the most engaged. Whether this is simply down to the cohort or more about the age I am not sure but two thirds of my week is spent addressing polite but blank faces who may or may not be absorbing what I am saying and the other third going into great detail and being lead off at tangents by my challenging yet engaged final years. Maybe they have “grown into their creativity” (Aoun,2017). I was also able to draw similar parallels from my experience of the current state secondary education curriculum and how it teaches children prior to undergraduate study. The difference being that they are largely taught to describe what they have learnt in compulsory education rather than thinking about the critical evaluation of what they have understood.

Although there was lots of interesting content some of the points made were backward-looking and out of date, for example, all UK school children are taught some element of coding already and it is part of the compulsory curriculum. The author also spent a great deal amount of time talking about the complexity of robots, much of which is actually already happening.

Fear of failure

One of my fellow PGCerters wrote about this article: The goal is to transform the temporary student into a lifelong learner.. who is mentally flexible and is able to utilise true critical thinking.” But I wonder if this is the goal of the students and suspect their own success criteria may lie with satisfying parents expectations and getting a qualification (any qualification) which makes their route to employment a safer option. They struggle to link this with what my colleague is saying. So I wonder if these pathways actually cross or if indeed we are able as lecturers to pull them closer together. They went on to say; “Critical thinking must be understood to be inherently subjective.” This is a great point and one that the students I teach seem to struggle with most. The constant fear of failure exhibited by students is deep rooted and difficult to break in world where the expectation is to succeed is a given rather than as a result of hard work and time spent.

About Me

WHO AM I

Having spent 22 years in the fashion industry, primarily as a high street retail buyer, I decided to opt for a career change approximately 5 years ago.  Exhausted by making millions to increase large corporations share price and profits it was time for a change.  I had learnt a lot and wanted to use my knowledge to help educate the next generation whilst achieving a better work/life balance.

I began working at LCF 5 years ago for Artscom, a part of the university that delivers short courses in all areas of fashion.  After a stint as Course Leader Fashion Marketing at Regents University returned to LCF in March 2017 as a lecturer managing the final year students on the FA (hons) Fashion Buying and Merchandising.  I am hoping to complete my PGCert and improve my ability to teach and understand the complex learning of my students.