5. Marking Matrix Session Review

  

The images above show A) the incomplete marking matrix from a group of 4 participants in a taught session. It includes coloured squares to represent where our peers think we mark in ‘group discussion (image 1). And B) the marking matrix I developed after the session. (image 2).

I found the session on the marketing matrix very interesting. As a support worker I am not directly involved with the marking of my student’s work but it is a factor I must be aware of when teaching. Students have expressed to me that they find it difficult to understand the process and vocabulary used when marking. When writing our own group matrix’s we wanted it to be clearer, with simpler vocabulary, however we found it difficult to find the necessary words. For example in the phrase ‘excellent understanding of the text and task’ how do you measure excellence? Similarly, the phrase ‘engaged with material’ is used on the current marking matrix but it is difficult to give measure to the action of engagement.

This session did however help me to understand the marking system more. I believe that the students I teach would benefit from an exercise similar to the one we conducted. I would like to implicate this either at the beginning of the second year or during the lead-up to a submission deadline. Doing so could encourage the students to check they had met the marking criteria and to understand where their strength and weaknesses lie.

The benefit of this exercise was evident during the second part of the session when participants had to mark themselves and their peers on group discussion. My peers assessed that my strong points in group discussion are knowledge of the subject discussed and the contribution to the group. For example listening and developing on what other people have said. The points for improvement where presentation skills – offering my knowledge in a clear manner. Learning my strengths and weaknesses in this process was very insightful for me. I believe it could be equally beneficial to students at all levels in developing their understanding of the marking matrix.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning – Blog Task 3 – Race.

Visit the Shades of Noir (SoN) http://shadesofnoir.org.uk/

Shades of Noir is a creative platform that supports and showcases current artists, events and social issues of marginalized groups. It’s aim is to give students, graduates and staff a true representation of art and art history that perhaps our current society and curriculum does not.  By being an open, safe space for it’s users it encourages groups to articulate self-determination and liberate the struggles from oppressive structures both in education and society.’

The site should be considered a resource for all students and staff. It’s content primarily focusses on people of colour, however the articles and topics covered are applicable and educational to all. Teachers and students should be encouraged to use the site as a resource. In doing so they will uncover a diverse and representative range of creative and social influences. As well as acting as an educational tool, the site is also a place of community to BAME students, providing much-needed exposure and representation in the creative industry.

http://education.shadesofnoir.org.uk/case-studies/..

The case studies within the Curriculum section of the site were of particular interest to me. Not only do they offer invaluable first-hand insight into prejudice and racism, but significantly they also provide tangible suggestions as to how such cases can be avoided in the future. Significantly the examples given cover student and staff experience, and therefore offer a comprehensive insight from all perspectives. It is my view that these case studies should be promoted to staff at all levels so they are better informed of the challenges faced by their colleagues and students and be better equipped to support them.

My personal experience of working with a BAME student has taught how it important a sense of community connection is, whether that be race, faith or identity. My student has always excelled when he feels understood by his tutors and peers. When a tutor shows recognition and makes the effort to connect to a project the student feels vindicated and encouraged to continue working. On the contrary I have also seen my student become despondent and demotivated when his tutors have failed to appreciate his work on a cultural level. This is not simply a case of tutors encouraging their student, but more a case of them truly understanding them too. I believe Shades of Noir would provide valuable context to my students work. In turn it could have a positive impact on his work and mentality by providing a source of encouragement and community. I am sure he would learn a great deal from reading the case studies, as indeed I have.

Read Hahn Tapper (2013) ‘A pedagogy of social justice education: social identity, theory and intersectionality’, Pp. 411-
417 (and see diagram on p.426) 

What is social justice education? The article written by Hahn Tapper makes the argument that our universities will fail unless they can manage and reduce social conflict. To do so they must integrate social issues into their curriculum. This fragile situation highlights the disparities in ‘societal opportunities, resources and long-term outcomes among marginalised groups’.

Reading Hahn Tapper’s article on social conflict has introduced me to the series of studies described as ‘Contact Hypothesis’. This theory is said to have been devised by Gorden W. Allport who aimed to break-down social prejudice within education. Allport suggests that if two groups of people of conflicting opinions are encouraged to interact in appropriate conditions it can help to break down prejudice, preconception and resolve the conflict. The ambiguity here is that positive results are dependant on ‘appropriate conditions’ – as teachers how do we make sure the conditions are equal and correct? The Robber Cave experiment explains that intergroup activity and teamwork can greatly improve relations between peers, however if handled incorrectly they can also end up causing more harm than good. This experiment highlights the challenges faced by teachers in ensuring the environment they create is conducive to positive learning experiences.

It is further argued that even if the intergroup activity is successful inside the ‘room’ there is no guarantee it will change things outside. Although I can see this point of view I believe Contact Hypothesis theories should still be encouraged within our teaching. At the very least they will promote self-reflection and be the start of a critical thought process. In best case scenarios this self-reflection may then lead to a change in preconceptions and prejudices later on.

Trapper’s article on social justice education has been very reaffirming to methods that I already employ in my practice. I continue to find Paulo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed to be an influence on my work and I am pleased that Trapper’s articles generally support Freire’s theories. Specifically it is the notion that ‘education provides venues for students to achieve freedom’ that I relate to. One of my primary objectives when teaching is for my students to gain a sense of freedom in their work. I try to aid my student to reach their potential despite their disabilities, and I think in many ways this is the ‘freedom’ that Freire describes.

The many artists and discussions on the Shades of Noir platform highlight that identity is an integral part of all student’s and professional’s learning. The same idea is discussed by Freire when he states that a student’s identity needs to be taken into account in all educational settings. I believe it is a teachers responsibility to understand their student’s ‘reality’ and reasons for studying. Our aim is to use a student’s passions and influences to direct their learning, to do so we must properly understand them ourselves first. The use of dialogue is an important element to achieving this goal. Freire explains that teachers must be ‘open to everything in the world’. True dialogue cannot happen if we are closed to contributions from others, in this case our students.

Watch the student film ‘Room of Silence’ from Rhode Island School of Design https://vimeo.com/161259012.

One of many comments that stood out to me was when one student expressed how important it is that tutors and peers do not feel ‘nervous’ when commenting on her work about race. She stated that ‘I need you to say something about this, how am I meant to learn? I could be making the shittiest work about race and no one would tell me…’

We must acknowledge that students of minority groups are being brave to talk about racial incidences and this should be encouraged. Only by creating honest, open discussion can an issue come to the forefront and resolutions be a made. I wonder if perhaps now that this video has been made and the teachers of this faculty have seen these honest discussions there has been a change in their experiences?

As teachers we should support, critique and encourage student’s individual and social identities in their education. If a lack of knowledge leads to a teacher failing to provide a full critique of a student’s work that teacher has two key responsibilities. Firstly they must direct their student to an appropriate colleague for better feedback, and secondly they must rectify the gap in their own knowledge. It is paramount to a student’s development to have access to communities and artists as reference points in contextual study. This is why the Shades of Noir platform and the case studies mentioned above can be so important – not only can it provide education to teachers looking to expand their knowledge but it can also provide reference points to students looking for inspiration.

4. Micro-Teaching Session.

Overview
Object-based learning is an effective way to encourage learners’ curiosity and have fun whilst exploring a new topic. It can also help explain techniques and skills in a way that is more digestible for certain types of students. I have often found short workshops to be an effective way to teach my students. Significantly I believe it demonstrates a way of working that students feel confident continuing on their own. I have observed that a student that has Asperger’s can find it difficult to follow a lot of instructions. Using the types of micro-teach sessions I showed in this workshop can help explain a technique or way of working in a fun and engaging way that encourages them to understand without getting anxious.

Idea
The idea for my micro-teach came from a particular challenge my student has when creating narrative on his Illustration and Visual Media course. His current project is to produce a comic book story about his disability. I have noticed that when producing the storyboards he may inadvertently miss out sections of the narrative. This can mean his work doesn’t flow or make sense without verbal explanation. I wanted to create a micro workshop that will teach students how to illustrate their story clearly storyboarding, a necessary skill when working on narrative based projects.

Learning outcomes
The intention of my micro teach was for my ‘students’ to find engagement in the 3 objects presented to them and use their observational, inspirational and communication skills to produce a spontaneous collaborative narrative.

The Objects
The three objects I decided to use as inspiration were a pair of binoculars, a Nokia 3310 mobile phone and a small architectural model of an Indian Temple. These objects have strong personal memories for me but more importantly they carry a diverse range of themes for the group to draw inspiration from.

The Task
Each ‘student’ receives a sheet of paper divided into 12 squares in the style of a storyboard. For the first 3 minutes everyone uses the top row of squares to draw the beginning of a story inspired by the 3 objects in front of them. They are encouraged to be playful and creative whilst following two rules – firstly the story must be open-ended and secondly they are not allowed to use descriptive words. They must try to use only drawings in their storyboard. After the first three minutes everyone passes their sheet to the person on their right. Informed by what they see on the first row their peer then continues the middle part of the story without talking or asking questions. This will be the test, has each participant drawn their story in a way that clearly communicates to their peers.  The process is repeated for a final time to finish the story. Once the final 3 minutes are up the students reveal the full storyboard and discuss if the original narrative was correctly understood.

Review

The atmosphere is the group was relaxed. To begin with people were tentative of their drawing skills however everyone quickly became relaxed. The fact that the stories were generally quite abstract and fun meant everyone was able to be playful with their contributions. People quickly realized that executing a beautiful drawing was not necessary, the sketches could be as simple possible as long as they clearly communicated an idea. Working in a quick manner meant people were less precious over their work, especially when continuing onto someone else’s narrative. This method of working really helped to promote the skill of collaboration.

I think the workshop could be developed by increasing the timings to allow the participants more scope for detail in their narratives. Inhibiting people from verbally communicating was very interesting and I could sense people wanted to talk, perhaps given more time they would have more confidence in their own interpretations. As a follow up activity participants could be placed in their groups and asked to develop their outcomes. With further group work the outcomes could be evolved into finished storyboards which could then be applied to an animation or comic zine.

Here are some examples of the narratives created in the 1o minute micro teach.