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M. Crean, C. Prunty

Dublin Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
This paper discusses the role formative assessment methods play in the student learning experience in 1st Year Architectural Technology, School of Architecture, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.

The current Degree in Architectural Technology is a constructively aligned syllabus, with explicit assessment criteria undertaken in a continual assessment method in a studio environment. The Studio environment mimics an Architectural Office in the ‘real world’ in the manner in which projects are set and in how the students are expected to engage.
While there is a carefully planned sequence of tasks and projects to help pace the students learning, the projects which are constructively aligned are structured to provide sufficient formative tasks. However, if there is a delay in receiving feedback on each task, the student is unclear about what the desired outcome required on any subsequent task should be. Each tasks successful completion should clearly enable the learner to address each new subsequent task with incremental recently learned knowledge, skills and development.
The importance of the need to be very clear, in stating aims and goals from the outset of each project, that the learner understands what is expected of them and what criteria must be achieved is recognised. By improving the quality and speed with which formative feedback is given to the student helps further enhance the depth and level of learning.

‘The ‘crit’ is the review of the ‘learning-by-doing process’ (Flynn, 2005) that originated probably through apprentice models from the Middle Ages to the early modernist movement in Bauhaus, has been carried out successfully for decades in schools of architecture. This is a formative feedback method used to critique original individual designs. The difference with Architectural Technology is that the solutions to technical assembly problems of a building are that the proposal will work, for example to keep water out, or not. The students have a choice of ‘answers’ they can produce, but need to be sure that their solution is appropriately applied.

A formative assessment ‘crit’ model has been introduced whereby, the class group, pin up their work around the studio walls. This immediately allows each student to see how their work compares with their peers. Following a general discussion session, the staff - in pairs, then examine the work. The students are encouraged to talk about their work as the staff ‘meets’ each student, while standing beside their work. Their peers are invited to listen, observe and take notes. Marks are surreptitiously awarded by each staff member for the work just viewed.
When the session comes to an end, following a Studio staff meeting, the results are collected and then posted on the studio wall. The students then gather their work, ready to address the next project.

As students become more familiar with the expected learning outcomes and the ‘crit’ process they can see where they are positioned within the class group. An improved interface and movement within studio has occurred, with students discussing their pinned up work with each other in advance of the ‘crit’ formally commencing.

In developing our research and looking at models on which to base this learning theory, my colleague and I have established that the Gibbs and Simpson model; ‘11 conditions under which assessment supports learning (2002)’ is probably the most appropriate to apply.