Graduated Curriculum

I employ a graduated model of assessment, a fancy way of saying that there is a structured progression through the semester of the modes and complexity of the work being done.

Talking

In this subject (it is a second year semester one course) I allocate a lot of assessment weight to participation. This revolves around a participation protocol that I have developed that is self assessed by students. This commonly uses the entire first class – which means anything up to 90 minutes – discussing what constitutes participation, why, and so on. This is the content of the class (so the content has nothing to do with video, interactive media, and so on), and is realised through discussion, conversation, debate, argument and talking. This situates participation, assessment and learning into the teaching time, making it central to the subject, and not relegated to the periphery of ‘homework’. It gives it authority and importance, and is undertaken verbally as this is the most important communicative mode used in the subject, it is closest to the life world of the students and its dialogism models the intellectual and pedagogical milieu that the curriculum relies upon. It literally sets the educational tone for the rest of the semester.

Talking + Making

Next involves making small things, often. This is unusual as at university they usually make a small number of key things that matter in a subject (for example writing two or three essays). This is deliberately closer to the experience of primary education where you are always making things to learn (and demonstrate your learning), though these are not formally assessed. (The same principle applies to their blogging.) This helps in developing a culture of ‘doing’ that embeds the experience of the subject as small things that are done regularly, rather than the prevailing university culture of large things done irregularly. During the first two weeks of this cycle of making every student has one of their videos critiqued by the class. This is oral, and continues the importance of using verbal modes to introduce, demonstrate then develop ideas and practices. In the case of participation this is applied to thinking about themselves as students, and with the critiques it is now directed toward the artefacts that they have made (a movement from in to out).

Talking + Making + Reflecting

The next progression occurs through the individual sketch films. The library of clips developed for this project have been made in response to specific prompts, which lets the sketch films become abstract self portraits, exercises in reflection. This task also requires them to write to their work, but the key assessment experience is oral, where they are ‘interviewed’ in small groups while their films are viewed, critiqued and questioned. This assessment conversation is emphasised because this is the primary mode of instruction, and as a conversation there is opportunity to respond to and shape questions. I can see if they understand and notice what needs to be understood and noticed, and from my point of view it is much more time efficient than trying to explain all that needs to learnt via comments on their submitted essays. By doing this in small groups, though the work is individual, ways of thinking as a group, of conversing together, and even a small, common understanding of what could now be done emerges, which leads into the final assessment task which is premised on collaboration and a more sophisticated engagement with the possibilities of emergent, multilinear video. It models and performs the sorts of conversations and questions they can use in their groups for their final projects. The experience is avuncular more than paternal, but with very explicit didactic intent. The essay component of this task is important but its role is primarily to introduce for the students a framework and the experience of writing to their own work in terms of an idea.

Making + Talking + Reflecting + Theorising

The final artefact students create is their major Korsakow film, realised as a small group project. This involves team meetings, collaborative exercises to define content, shared decisions about responsibilities within the project, project management and the writing of a substantial essay about their finished work in relation to a theoretical question. An exercise is done in class to help understand their collaboration. This involves a visualisation of their strengths and weaknesses, followed by a discussion, and this then informs their conversations about project planning and implementation. They are invited to present and talk to a prototype of their project in class, which is then critiqued, and can, if they wish, collaboratively write the final essay. This final artefact and essay are assessed using a simple template that they have access to. The intent is to make a substantial Korsakow film that helps gain a deep understanding of the emergent, iterative model of making that these systems require and how this is relevant to their own practice, and its implications for ideas and the new sorts of media artefacts (of discrete media objects in loose coalitions of relation) and ecologies they will be working with. Hence this project is a summing up of the course, while also trying to look ahead by opening up new questions. It brings together and requires the use of the pedagogical modes developed through the semester: talking, making, and cycles of reflection, and then using a theoretical proposition or claim as an external framework to look past the work itself.

Notes

Miles, Adrian. Major project assessment matrix 2012 (pdf).

Schön, Donald A. Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987. Print.

Schön, Donald A. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action. Basic Books, 1983. Print.