Senior Lecturer in the School of Design, Sheona Thomson, teaches a core unit for students from all design disciplines. It focuses on developing students’ understanding of what it means to be a designer in the twenty-first century. As part of the subject, students complete a series of five short reflective responses based on workshop activities. “It’s not so much about developing academic writing skills, but more so about encouraging deeper learning and engagement with the topics. I want them to reflect on the impact of design and their role as a designer.”
Sheona was dissatisfied with the way the assessments were delivered and managed. “Students were submitting their responses through an online journal tool. It was hopeless.” She found that submissions were often inconsistent, with students submitting a variety of file types. This made the assessments difficult to manage and mark. Despite having a well structured continuous assessment design, the tools at Sheona’s disposal prevented her from doing what she truly wanted to do — creating a regular feedback flow for students. “I could’ve used Google Docs or a Wiki, but it would still have been hard to manage. It’s not integrated with the Learning Management System.”
Once Sheona moved the assessments into Cadmus, she could quickly review submissions and provide feedback to students. She set the assignments up to utilise Cadmus’ drafting functionality. This meant that students could easily submit a draft, receive feedback, and then submit in final — all through Cadmus. This allowed Sheona to create a nice feedforward flow with each assessment task. The comments on the drafts prompted students to reflect further, helping them consider ways to improve their final submissions. And when it came to managing submissions, the class list in Cadmus made it easy for Sheona to get an overview of how the class was tracking. “I appreciated knowing if students had started, and it was easy to see who had submitted drafts or finals, and if they were on time.”
Sheona also appreciated the simplicity of working in the Cadmus environment for both herself and her students. “I like that it’s a shared space between teachers and students. I could easily add written or video prompts, and students could see them right next to the space where they were writing.” Using Cadmus removed the complexity of managing various files and resources in Blackboard, including the challenges of editing instructions. “With Cadmus, I could update the instructions and they would be there immediately for students to access. It was much better than uploading another version of the PDF instructions.”
Over the semester, 41.2% of students regularly submitted drafts for feedback. “I think students found the whole assessment process more accessible and easier to complete. They just got into Cadmus and did it.” The assessment process became more accessible for Sheona as well, while also enabling her to improve her teaching practices. “This is the first time I’ve ever given feedback in such tight loops. It did take a bit more time each week reviewing students’ work, but I’m glad I made the shift from the journal tool to Cadmus to make this possible.” Using Cadmus has also encouraged Sheona to think of ways to improve her feedback process going forward as her class sizes increase.
Reflecting on her transition from using the journal tool to Cadmus, Sheona identifies the support and resources from Cadmus as incredibly helpful. “It’s well supported and there are great resources. I really don’t think there was much of a learning curve. Honestly, it’s just a much more pleasant environment to work in; a user-friendly learning and assessment tool.”