A formal assessment of the tools, including student surveys, a TA focus group, and my own reflective analysis were administrated and informed alterations and new goals of the blended classroom. In particular, I will refer to 3 surveys administered in the last 3 iterations of the class.
- 3 hour Not Blended This class that did not use the resources or the peer review, and worked just as the class has for the last 8 years, 149 of 189 students responded to the survey.
- 3 hour Blended The second survey was for a class that was “flipped” so the online technical demonstrations and peer review were administered but in-class hours were not yet reduced, therefore it stayed at a 3 hour lab time and is labelled in the graphs, 124 of 193 students responded to the survey.
- 2 hour Blended The third class that was surveyed was the Media Studies stream in the Co-ordinated Arts Program (CAP) class which did utilize the technical demonstration videos, had been reduced in hours, but did not contain the peer review instead an ePortfolio was part of the curriculum. This is also a smaller section of 100 students of which 81 responded to the survey.
I will now go through a selection of findings from the quantitative surveys, with graphics demonstrating quantitative results, and reference to the qualitative questions when necessary to reveal relevance or conclusions.
The introduction of online peer critiques before projects were due was a way to cultivate a sense of collegiality in the students to value and seek peer advice. This not only helped in creating a sense of trust in the community of their peers, but also helped to improve project quality before it is due for grading. The results of the online peer critique success demonstrated the highest difference between class structures in the quantitative assessments, proving the particular effectiveness of online peer review in this class.
Figure 1 – To what extent did (Written Peer Review) or (Online Peer Review) or (ePortfolio) help you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
Online Technical Demonstration Resource Library:
A measure of effectiveness was garnered by asking students to what extent did the technical demonstrations and quizzes help students with the major points of the class. While “A Great Deal” and “Quite a Bit” went relatively unchanged, the “Very Little” area was hit most, showing that the gap between those who knew the program and those who did not was not as drastic as in the original course wherein the TA taught technical demonstrations during contact hours.
Figure 2 – To what extend did (in-lab or online) technical demonstrations and quizzes help you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
In the 3 hour Not Blended qualitative assessment, when students were asked if there was “anything they wished to add that would help make the course more successful” there was a total of 40 different students (of total 149 who answered the survey) that commented in some way about the Teaching Assistant abilities to teach the technical components of the programs, 5 students directly naming examples of teaching assistant technical abilities being weak or confusing in specific instances. As this is one of the major motivators for the TLEF, I felt this is significant evidence of how problematic Teaching Assistant abilities were to the teaching of these specific skills. The 3 hour Blended class, which utilized the technical demonstration video library had a total of 5 comments (out of 124 students who answered the survey) who made comments regarding the quality of the videos, though these were not directly at the demonstration quality. There were also still 5 comments made towards the lack of preparedness of TA’s that may relate to the TA comments of the classroom that was not yet blended. As well, I gained insight to exact details of how to improve the new class structure, as 6 different students commented on the lack of lab access time and the 2 hour blended class also had 8 comments in regards to lab time for doing the video work. As a result, starting in Fall 2017, the TA’s and I will be holding two, 1-hour workshop lab times on top of open lab times every week to help students that feel they need one-on-one help, as a personal tutorial time.
Artistic Practice as Research:
In a hope to re-align the focus of the class for students to understand how praxis is a form of research in studio disciplines it was important to measure the effects of the main component of the course to see if attitudes changed by way of the skill-based component delivery. While not significantly different, you will see a slight raise in the understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice by way of developing, praxis and creation.
Figure 3 – To what extent did the creation of artistic projects help you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
The result was further enhanced when asked of their impression of the relevance of creativity, capacity to be creative and new confidence to be creative after the course. The qualitative survey showed that the blended classrooms felt less anxious will the challenges of these components, and generated a higher extremely and moderately self-assessment in the Confidence category, which indicates that they do have a higher confidence in their creative skills because of the structure of the class.
Figure 4 – Capacity to be creative expand or shift viewpoint (Relevance, Challenge, Confidence)
Contact Hour Activities
With a renewed focus on contact hours, I started to initiate further activities for both lecture and lab times. The change was not as I had hoped, and over the summer I have been writing/creating more informed lesson plans for the Teaching Assistants to use for the 2017 iterations of the class. I am also integrating the use of TopHat for the lectures, so that I can facilitate active learning in the large lecture. As well, I noticed in the comments (& results of survey) that students in the 2-hour lab felt that in-lab workshops were more useful than the 3-hour lab, and that much of the 3-hour lab students felt that the activities were much too long. I do think going down to a 2-hour lab for all sections of the class will eliminate this feeling of being stuck in class for a 3-hour lab when they wished to complete their online homework. I do feel that the reduction in hours will also help to alleviate this sense of tedium as well as my renewed lesson plans.
Figure 5 – To what extent did lecture and in-lecture activities help you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
However, if we take a particular example of course content on “appropriation” that was further activated in the refocused contact hours of the blended classroom, you will see that the confidence category of the blended classrooms is higher, leading me to believe that while there was very little change in the first question above, this more detailed question that actually applies the in class lesson to specific content, (appropriation) we can then see significant growth in the confidence level for the blended classroom. Nonetheless, I have been working throughout the spring to cultivate new lesson plans for the TA’s and plan to incorporate TopHat active learning techniques into my lectures to further utilize the class time.
Figure 6 – Ability to dissect meaning of appropriated sources of visual culture (Relevance, Challenge, Confidence)
When asked to understand the relevance of the characteristics of a medium to the message of a work, students in the blended classroom found this to be more relevant than the class that was not blended. They also found it to be less challenging to approach and felt more confident about their abilities to understand and utilize this knowledge. This is a rather difficult concept for a first year student to dissect as subject matter and content makes us gullible to interpretation. I feel that this is a significant improvement as understanding the characteristics of medium, especially digital art, is important to the ethic of making meaning through a specific medium, in light of Marshall McLuhan’s very important catch phrase —the medium is the message.
Figure 7 – Ability to understand the innate characteristics or “medium specificity” of a format (Relevance, Challenge, Confidence)
TA Focus Group:
I conducted a voluntary focus group of qualitative information during the summer with 5 of the 9 Teaching Assistants who taught the class. All but one of the Teaching Assistants who attended the focus group had taught both versions of the class, therefore the responses were quite comparative. The most significant changes in the use of class time that Teaching Assistants felt had a positive effect was the increased class time for public critiques, a very important part of the discipline of the Visual Arts. In contrast to the results of student surveys, Teaching Assistants felt that readings and reading discussions in class were much more complex and in-depth, particularly in the 2hour blended class. This is at odds with the student feedback, which makes me speculate whether some of the survey results were more about enjoyment, ease or popularity rather than insight into difficult topics. I hope to identify new strategies and techniques for reading discussions for students to see relevance to the class topics. Finally, the Teaching Assistants expressed an overall greater sense of fulfillment in teaching the class and the types of conversations they were having with students.
Figure 8 – To what extent did readings and reading discussions help you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
My own observations focused mainly on student growth, in comparing previous iterations of the course with the three pilot ‘blended’ versions of the course, shows that a focus on certain self-initiated learning components can expand the gap between higher and lower grades. I plan to address this with the introduction of formal due dates for certain components, as well incorporating time-management and self-learning techniques into the curriculum, so as to demonstrate to students how self-initiated learning can be cultivated. As well, student feedback indicates there are still a select few students who require one-on-one technical help using the programs. In the next iteration of the course I plan to facilitate weekly technical workshops to supplement the online resource curriculum. The weekly sessions will be focusing on particular components of skill-based learning in the same order as the resource, and allow for extra lab time with technical guidance as students apply their skills while creating their projects. On a more administrative/managerial side, Teaching Assistants are more enthusiastic about teaching the course and there are more Teaching Assistants able to teach the course, therefore the department is able to support graduate students in our program. As a result of my findings, I will sustain a blended classroom model in future iterations of the course. However, I aim to further develop active teaching strategies in both the large lecture, and in labs, so as to better utilize class time for more nuanced learning and discussions. This will be incorporated into further Teaching Assistant training as well to help TA’s conduct proper group work and active learning strategies into their class, as well as their own research interests as a way to work as an example to students. I also plan on administrating outside class time technical workshops for students who need extra one-on-one help with the programs. Finally, I plan to further utilize peer review as a pedagogical strategy as the benefits from my findings were quite substantial.
Summary of Qualitative Data:
- If any, what other class activities that helped you to develop an understanding of contemporary art and artistic practice?
- 3 hour Not Blended Top 5 answers were “Artist Examples” (took place in lecture), “Lecture Activities”, “Informal Discussions”, “Group Discussions” and “Other Students Work”
- 3 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Group Discussions”, “Artist Examples”, “Field Trip”, “TA Presence/Methods” and “Informal Discussions” was tied with “Instructor/TA’s Artwork or Art Practice”
- 2 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Artist Examples”, “Group Discussions”, “Lecture Discussions”, “Critiques” and “Individual Work”
- If any, what other capabilities (beyond what is listed in first part of question) do you feel are relevant for you to be able to make a contemporary art work?
- 3 hour Not Blended Top 5 answers were “Technical Proficiency”, “Relate/Understand the Self/Outside World”, “Knowledge of Art History”, “Learned Concepts” and “Open Mind/Imagination”
- 3 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Open-Mind”, “Self-Interest/Expression”, “Understanding Rules”, “Exposure to Varying Art” and tied for 5th were “Self-Critique Work” and “Social/Perspective Awareness”
- 2 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Multiple Perspectives”, “Planning”, “Understanding Art History”, “Audience Awareness” and “Adaptation”, “Concept” and “Self-Awareness” were also brought up.
- What do you anticipate that you will still remember 5 years from now that you learned in this course?
- 3 hour Not Blended Top 5 answers were “Technical Skills”, “Appreciation of Art”, “How to Observe Art/World”, “Use/Effect of Appropriation” and “How to Critique Art”
- 3 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Technical Skills”, “Appropriation”, “How to Critique”, “Appreciation for Art/Process” and “Conceptual/Contemporary Art”
- 2 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Technical Skills”, “Appropriation”, “How to Critique”, “Appreciation for Art/Process” and “ePortfolio”
- Is there anything else you wish to add that would help the Instructor to make this course more successful?
- 3 hour Not Blended Top 5 answers were “More/Better Time to Learn Technical Skills”, “TA’s were weak and/or unprepared”, “Teach the TA’s the programs”, “Grading is difficult” and “Lab time needs more than just discussions”
- 3 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “Adobe CC license for students”, “More time in Labs using Computers”, “Improve Videos”, “Improve TA attitudes” and “Troubleshooting time in Lab” tied with “Improve TA preparedness”
- 2 hour Blended The top 5 answers were “More time in Labs using Computers”, “More Projects”, “Lab Time to finish Work”, “Labs too long” and “More Activities”