Would using an alternative, student driven model for teaching video and multimedia content within workshops improve retention of essential technical information by Fine Art masters students?
We observed that roughly half of all MA Fine Art students who sign up for
video and multimedia workshops quickly forget the essential technical basics
and within about six weeks slide back to square one. This means that when
they later bring a project to the edit suites they require a substantial amount
of technicians assistance to come up to speed.
My intervention proposed a change from what was effectively teaching by
rote to relatively large groups (15 to 20 students) for 50 to 60 minutes, to a
situation in which students agreement would be sought beforehand as to what
would be covered in shorter 'bite sized' 30 minute sessions with a smaller
number of participants, typically 8 to 10 students.
Central to my intervention would be questionnaires and focus groups.
The questionnaire would be in the form of a simple sliding scale response to
to a series of questions on basic technical subjects in terms of degrees of
confidence varying from 'very confident' to not 'confident at all'.
1. Consult with academic staff, request permission for their students
2. Construct the questionnaire which went through a number of basic
basic technical questions covering areas which we knew had caused
issues for students.
3. Select students for the study - those who would be able to allocate
the time needed for all phases.
4. Run the pre focus group in which I set the stage and explained the
pedagogical tools I will be using to involve the students to a greater
degree and ensure they understood what it was all about.
5. Issue the first questionnaire and collate the responses.
6. The focus group, in which I put a series of open ended questions to the
students re technical issues they had encountered with reference to the
areas covered in the questionnaire and invited comments on how they
felt improvements could be made to the teaching methods.
7. Run the revised workshop in which the technical agenda was set by students
who would suggest what it was they wished to cover in the light of challenges
encountered with their daily digital projects - arrived at by consensus.
8. Issue the second pass questionnaire, collate the responses, compare
them with previous responses and try to infer if there is any
improvement, no improvement or the situation had worsened.
In my opinion the results were not conclusive, I cannot reliably state that my
alternative style in running these technical workshops has shown any improvement.
Regarding my main tool - the questionnaire, some students who reported a higher
level of confidence at the start reported less confidence at the finish and vice versa
in equal amounts. It could be that the situation is better, or worse - not neutral
but I have no way of knowing this in the short term. I would have to wait about
two months and analyse the group somehow for improved retention.
I suspect there were errors and omissions in my method.
However, in general discussion, the group as a whole reported they felt they had
'learnt a lot' and from further questioning I gather they meant they were now able
to see how a media project is joined up - through the stages of preparation and
research, through to acquisition (shooting) through to post production (editing)
through to distribution of their digital artwork locally or in the cloud. I think this
is in part due to the activity within focus groups and in part due to team exercises
which I had set as a form of homework after my workshop.