1 FdA Web Design 2013/14 External Examiner s report summary Please indicate in the relevant boxes below whether you agree with the statements about the standards of Leeds Metropolitan University s awards, the standards of student performance and the conduct of the University s assessment processes. Please also list any shortcomings and areas for commendation. You should expand on any issues you mention here in the main report. If any boxes are ticked No the Dean of the Faculty or nominee will be alerted and will oversee the response from the course leader. Standards set In my view, the standards set for the awards are appropriate. If your answer is no, please provide a brief statement (bullet points) of the respect(s) in which they fall short. Yes No Student performance In my view, the standards of student performance are comparable with similar course(s) or subjects in other UK institutions with which I am familiar. I have reviewed a sample of student work from the collaborative / franchise institution and in my view the standards of student performance are comparable with students studying the award(s) at Leeds Met * * Not applicable if you are a practitioner and are not in a position to assess national standards please indicate here. If your answer is no, please provide a brief statement (bullet points) of the respect(s) in which they fall short. Conduct of processes In my view, the processes for assessment, examination and the determination of awards are sound and fairly conducted. Yes No If your answer is no, please provide a brief statement (bullet points) of the respect(s) in which they fall short.
2 Areas for commendation Any particular strengths or distinctive or innovative features in relation to standards and assessment processes In my 2 nd year as EE I remain impressed with the work related learning ethos on this particular FD. The level of professionalism exhibited by the students is commendable. Those students who fully engage gain a considerable amount of valuable experience from working with real clients. This certainly helps the transition from study to commercial work easier for the students and it is a benefit of FDa Web Design that 5 out of 7 students have gained full-time employment before the graduate. In my 2013 report I commended this high rate of employment from the FD into the local economy and its reciprocal relationship with local employers. It was good to hear from the students how they appreciated the presentation event at the end of the year to local employers. It is refreshing to hear how students across 1 st and 2 nd year see the relevance of their WRL and PPD modules to employability, and to hear them reflect on their own professional development as a result. This level of employability of FDa Web Design students is a motivating factor in attracting new students as they can see how the degree is good preparation for a career. In particular the business planning was highlighted as a very useful activity, as they appreciated this because they could see how they would profit later by this knowledge. My previous commendation on the skillsets this web design degree provides its students is still relevant as it prepares them for entry into a web design career, but also prepares them to be effective visual communicators online and in print too, meaning they can provide a full design service to clients. They really also appreciate how the PL invites professional web designers who were alumni of FDa Web Design to visit the students for a Q&A. The students see the benefit of hearing a professional who in years past was a student on the same course as themselves as inspirational. They gain a good insight into the local and national markets, gaining perspective for future employment.
3 Main report In this section you are asked to describe more fully how the University has or has not maintained academic standards and the quality of the student experience in relation to the course(s) for which you are the external examiner. Please write a report (in addition to completing the Summary) in sections under all the following areas. Where applicable please also reference the sections to any collaborative / franchise provision you have sampled. If you are an external examiner for any of the University s Edexcel (HND/HNC level) provision, please also complete the section on page 8 entitled for External Examiners Associated with Edexcel Courses. (a) The operation and conduct of the Board of Examiners (and any Mitigation Panel or Examination Committee meeting you may also have attended). Very professional, and very organised. (b) The action, if any was required, taken in response to your report of last year. (This will not be relevant if you are examining for the first time.) There were no actions required. (c) The overall performance of the students, in relation to that of comparable levels of work in other institutions. The overall quality of student work matches the grading given with a healthy range between 40s-60s. Both weaker and stronger students are given very detailed feedback as to where they can improve. Year 2 is not as strong as the previous year s cohort (fewer distinction student grades overall) but they still have evidenced some interesting work that is comparable with students of similar abilities at other institutions. (d) The strengths and weaknesses of the students in general with respect to knowledge, conceptual grasp or application of skills. I repeat my comment from last year that this degree demonstrates a very good application of skills relevant to the subject specialisms of web design. There still remains excellent evidence of work-related learning engaged collectively with individual students being identified clearly in its production. This format still remains the best I ve seen both as a former FD programme leader and an external examiner. Those students who have learnt to write reflectively (the blogs are a very good platform to help them achieve this) do so with a level of maturity that is also reflected in their creative work. It is clear who the weaker and failing students are from the sample. It is good to see that students are doing referencing, and any weaknesses in citing in Harvard still needs strengthening (full Harvard citation including page numbers). It is clear that the academically stronger students reference fully in Harvard and the lower grades reflect the weaker students
4 who don t fully use the format. This year I was impressed with the verbal skills of the students I met and the natural way they reflected on their experience. Although the WRL project wasn t as strong as last years the students learnt a lot that they are now contributing directly in their new employment, and this is wonderful to hear. All students feedback is constructive, helpful and very detailed. The staff do take time to help every student to maximise their own development with good advice on where improvements can be made. I am impressed by this quality. (e) The standards of the structure, organisation, design and marking of all examination papers and/or other forms of assessment. The overall marking of the students creative, WRL and PDP work is correct with a healthy range of grades. Excellent students gain suitable excellent grades while weaker students gain a grade commensurate with the work they put in. It remains gratifying to see at my second annual visit students still gaining employment at the end of their studies. (f) The curriculum, teaching or resourcing of the programme of study as indicated by the performance of the students in the assessment. I remain impressed with the curriculum and teaching on FDa Web Design. The degree comes to the design of interfaces from a very strong visual communication direction, a direction that I applaud. The inclusion of typography, corporate identity and design for print modules are important for a degree such as this that is concerned with front-end design. It is excellent to see web design students who can code, design and gain employment because of their skillsets before they graduate. This is an exemplar to other similar degrees around the country. (g) Comments on the use of -stream (VLE) within the course (if applicable).. The use of student blogs is very productive for reflection and personal professional development. (h) Module content, consistency of modules and module assessment across the course and the achievement of learning outcomes. (You may be asked by your Faculty to provide detailed comments on the modules that you examine.) Overall the learning outcomes were met and the written feedback reinforces this. All evidence of second line assessment was in place and I was impressed by the detail in the feedback to the students especially summaries of formative feedback that then informed the summative. Excellent. (i) Areas of good practice you have identified please expand on the key areas for commendation listed in the summary. It is testament to the relevancy of this degree that not only do it s students reach a level of maturity in their work, they are also exposed to and conversant in the latest trends that make
5 some of them immediately employable by industry. In particular the WRL work at 2 nd year remains impressive. The formation of the students into a design agency working for real clients led and run by the students is still employed to great effect. The client work is good (clearer demonstrated scale on wireframes would be beneficial), but the level of documentation recording planning, costing, skill audits, client meetings etc., remains excellent. The best I ve seen. Students are reflective and confident, communicating their appreciation for the structure of the degree and the quality of teaching they received while on it. The graduating students were clear that the grounding they received at year 1 clearly led them to the commercial skills they gained at the end of year 2. They saw the increase of pressure over the length of the degree helped them develop a realistic appreciation of deadlines and working within them, aiding their transition to employment. (j) The University welcomes external examiners comments on its developing academic regulatory framework. Such comments may not have a direct bearing on standards set and achieved or the conduct of processes and so it may not be appropriate to include them elsewhere in this report or its summary. Please record any concerns or comments you may have here. The students have raised a concern that also concerns me. They inform me that their contact hours have been reduced (5:00pm end rather than 5:30pm, plus loss of timetabled breaks(?)) and they perceive this cut in time as impacting on their ability to achieve the levels expected on their modules compared to previous years. In particular they drew my attention to their collaborative WRL 2 nd year project. Both years appreciate the fact that a FD affords more opportunity for access to the teaching staff than they would get at a university. This is a factor in recruitment as many students have expressed this was a motivation in selecting this degree at Wakefield college. Added to this is the worry of timetabling combined classes on some modules with students from different degrees, meaning a loss of subjectspecific context that will impact on their learning. Finally they are worried about any midsemester day/time changes being made, as this would impact on their employment (many students are engaged part-time in design companies while studying that leads to future full employment on graduation), and on the mature students (this degree attracts mature students) who have established responsibilities outside their studies. Any such decisions made on hours/times/days I feel must not negatively impact on the student experience of what is a successful FD. (k) Collaborative / Franchise Provision: please include here any comments you wish to make on elements of collaborative / franchise provision for which you have responsibility (in addition to those you may have indicated previously in this report). N/A
6 External Examiners Report Checklist Please comment for all boxes Course Materials Did you receive? a. Course Handbook(s)? b. Academic Regulations including any Professional Statutory Body requirements where appropriate (these may be included the Course Handbook)? c. Module specifications (these may be in the Course Handbook)? d. Assessment briefs/marking criteria? Draft examination papers a. (i) Did you receive all the draft papers? (ii) If not, was this at your request? b. (i) Was the nature and level of the questions appropriate? (ii) If not, were suitable arrangements made to consider your comments? c. Were suitable arrangements made to consider your comments? Draft coursework a. (i) Did you receive all the draft coursework? (ii) If not, was this at your request? b. (i) Was the nature and level of the coursework appropriate? (ii) If not, were suitable arrangements made to consider your comments? c. Were suitable arrangements made to consider your comments?
7 Marking Examination Scripts a. (i) Did you receive a sufficient number of scripts from both home and (if appropriate) collaborative / franchise partner students? (ii) If you did not receive all the scripts, was the method of selection satisfactory? Recommended sample sizes at Leeds Metropolitan University are as follows: a) Samples should be determined by a square root of cohort size, no smaller than 6, no larger than 15. However it should be borne in mind that not all work is assessed in a way that makes a square root sample possible and allowance should be made. For example in subjects such as the performing arts where there may be a requirement for an external to come and view a performance instead, or to visit the exhibition of art work. b) Samples to include all classification categories, and it is helpful to concentrate around the boundaries to include some fails. c) Samples to consist of internally moderated work, clearly evidencing the moderation process. b. Was the general standard and consistency of marking appropriate? c. Were the scripts marked in such a way to enable you to see the reasons for the award of given marks? Dissertations/project reports a. Was the choice of subjects for dissertations appropriate? b. Was the method and standard of assessment appropriate? Coursework/continuously assessed work a. Was sufficient coursework made available to you for assessment from both home and (if appropriate) collaborative / franchise partner students? b. Was the method and general standard of marking and consistency satisfactory? Orals/performances/recitals/appropriate professional placements a. Were suitable arrangements made for you to conduct orals and/or moderate performances/recitals/appropriate professional placements? Examination Committee/Board of Examiners a. Were you able to attend the meetings? b. Were the meetings conducted to your satisfaction? c. Were you satisfied with the recommendations of the Examination Committee/Board of Examiners?