Research as Art in an Undergraduate Context
The central argument of this paper is that, if we as educators are to ‘future-proof’ students, preparing them for a workplace in which automation is becoming increasingly widespread, we have to foster their abilities as creative thinkers. As Florida and Goodnight (2005) put it: ‘A company’s most important asset isn’t raw materials, transportation systems, or political influence. It’s creative capital—simply put, an arsenal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valuable products and services’.
Accordingly, I will discuss assessment strategies trialled in my new module EN-3050 Written in Blood: Reading the Vampire, which is offered as a module to Level 3 students in the department of English and Creative Writing. For their first piece of assessed work (worth 30% of their final module mark), students were given the choice of following either a ‘critical’ or a ‘creative’ path. While the critical path involved the writing of a short analytical essay – a task already thoroughly familiar to final-year literature students – the creative path gave students the opportunity to respond to the main themes of the module by producing a creative piece plus a critical commentary. The definition of what constituted ‘creative’ was left deliberately broad, encompassing both creative writing and 2-D or 3-D artwork.
Incorporating student feedback and examples of their outputs, I will reflect upon the success of this assessment strategy, outlining the challenges involved in drawing up assessment criteria and guidance notes, and the viability (and desirability) of extending this form of opportunity to other modules.
The presentation will begin with an outline of the ‘creative path’, and the methods used to explain it to the students. Examples of their creative work will be shown, alongside a discussion of assessment strategies, learning outcomes and student feedback. It will be of interest to any delegate who is interested in broadening undergraduate methods of assessment.
Students need to be helped to become creative thinkers in order to maintain their employability in a workplace increasingly dominated by technology. Therefore, traditional methods of assessment need to be supplemented by tasks that require students to ‘think outside the box’, devising unorthodox and individualistic approaches to problem-solving.
Research as art, creativity, undergraduate assessment
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