• An evaluation of the module guides and assignment briefs used in the School of Art and Design (SAD)

      Scull, Paul (University of Wolverhampton, 2001)
      At the beginning of the 1999/2000 academic year, the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton introduced all students to new module guides. The aim of this project was to evaluate the module guides and assignment briefs currently used in the School of Art and Design and to propose any modifications. In particular, the objectives were to identify key issues and constraints by means of a literature review; to identify and use methods by which relevant, reliable and unbiased information might be gathered; evaluate collected information; identify aspects of the guides and briefs which might benefit from changes as well as aspects of good practice. Although originally identified as an ‘innovation’ bid, the innovation (the introduction of new module guides and assignment briefs) had already taken place. The primary concern of this project was therefore to review the innovation.
    • An investigation into the concept of mind mapping and the use of mind mapping software to support and improve student academic performance.

      Holland, Brian; Holland, Lynda; Davies, Jenny (University of Wolverhampton, 2004)
      This project set out to investigate if the technique of mind mapping could be used to improve the study and planning skills of second year Digital Media students from the School of Art and Design (SAD) and first year students on the History of Computing module from the School of Computing and Information Technology (SCIT). Both sets of students were shown how mind mapping could be used to plan the different types of work that they needed to undertake for their modules. MindManager software was installed in selected computer labs and the students were given tuition on how to use the software.
    • Assessing by viva voce

      Callery, Dymphna; Hale, Kate (University of Wolverhampton, 2002)
      The idea of introducing vive voce assessments emerged during a review of the assessment profile of the Drama Department. Despite the practical orientation of the programme, assessments were dominated by 60% Practical Project , 40% Essay weightings. Good practical marks were frequently undermined by weaker grades for written work, despite students’ evident development of understanding through practice, and written evaluations were generally of poor quality. In addition, staff had reported an unhealthy split in the focus of practical modules where written course-work was a requirement. In the drama professions it is more necessary to be able to explain ideas and creative concepts orally and pursue them somatically: the process of making work is physically and vocally-based; critical reflection comes orally too in the form of direction, post-show discussions and de-briefings. Teaching strategies for practical work embrace this, applying theoretical concepts in concrete praxis. Students’ development on such courses requires them to invest in sensory and experiential learning and a progressively intensive approach to practice. Presenting work to tutors and peers for critical feedback is the major teaching and learning mode. Having to change tack and focus on conceptualising theory, rather than exploring through creativity, and essay writing rather than practical skills, constrained tutors and students. The introduction of an oral examination – a viva voce – to assess students’ ability to critically reflect on and evaluate their practice could provide a viable alternative. Viva voces would both acknowledge and play to the strengths of students’ oral communication skills and offer them the chance to develop more formal interview techniques, as well as acknowledging the vocal and oral nature of the discipline. The aim of the project was to introduce viva voce exams as a method of assessing critical reflection on practical work in order primarily to improve the range of asessments, but in addition to give students an opportunity to sustain their achievement on practical modules. The focus was on finding and implementing strategies that would promote good practice in assessment.
    • Developing materials from the Black and Ethnic Minority Experience (BE-ME) project for use in undergraduate teaching

      Burke, Deirdre (University of Wolverhampton, 2003)
      The Black and Ethnic Minority Experience (BE-ME) is a collaborative project involving the local community, council, colleges and the university to demonstrate the potential of the (BE-ME) archive for undergraduate teaching.
    • Identifying and addressing the needs of art and design students at risk of underachievement in their incoming year of study

      Salter, Pam; Peacock, Diane (University of Wolverhampton, 2002)
      Following the piloting of the ILP (Individual Learning Profile) in the previous academic year (2000/1), the project aimed to consolidate the mechanism for identifying needs and supporting students during their incoming year of study. Through refining the processes by which students at risk are identified and assisted, the intention was to empower individual students to recognise and build on their strengths, and enable weaknesses, or perceived weaknesses, to be addressed. The project also aimed to raise awareness of both students and staff to the importance of customized and timely learning support, designed to enable a greater number of students to reach their creative and academic potential. The school can cite numerous anecdotal examples of how targeted Learning Support has had a direct impact on the quality of the student learning experience. The project aimed systematically to test the hypothesis that there is a correlation between additional learning support and student retention.
    • The relationship between software skills and subject specific knowledge, theory and practice.

      Marshall, Lindsey; Austin, Marc (University of Wolverhampton, 2004)
      Previous research (Marshall & Austin, 2003) suggests that there is a need for theory to be integrated with practice in design subjects. There is current concern that the acquisition of software skills is taking priority over subject specific knowledge and skills. This is seen as a source of some tension between design education and industry, as many employers require graduates to have knowledge of software prior to employment. Integrating these skills into the curriculum alongside developing creativity and theoretical/contextual understanding is proving difficult for education. Although technology plays an integral role in the production of designed artefacts, it is an adjunct to the core content of courses which is an understanding of the knowledge and skills associated with design, their application to creative problem solving and contextual/ theoretical understanding of issues related to design and a broader field. There is national and international debate around this issue. Justice (1999) expresses concern about space in the curriculum, stating: ‘Before computers, faculty may have had a full semester to teach a beginning typography course. Now, they have a full semester to teach typography and the several software packages the students will use to complete the typography projects.’ (Justice, 1999, p.54)