Increasing Opportunities for the Development of Case-Based Knowledge in High-Enrolment Production Courses

Michael Filimowicz Veronika Tzankova

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Michael Filimowicz, School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Project team: Veronika Tzankova, research assistant

Timeframe: April to September 2012

Funding: $3,000  

Final report: The final report is available by request to Michael (

Description: In high-enrolment production courses, maintaining a balance between instructional input, time constraints, student learning, assignments, critique, peer mentoring, and effective and detailed feedback to students is challenging. The objective of this project is to increase opportunities for students to develop case-based knowledge in large production courses that employ the lecture-lab model prevalent in the undergraduate curriculum of the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).

The use of a case-based approach is designed to achieve greater practical expertise and improved learning results at the level of the individual student within the constraints imposed by limited contact hours and high course enrolment through a multi-level feedback and marking scheme.

In summer 2012 I will reconfigure IAT 244 Digital Photography I to incorporate case-based knowledge and learning involving the production of a technical portfolio to cover baseline knowledge of important photographic techniques, along with a professional-level creative portfolio that can serve students' needs when they enter the workforce. For the latter portfolio, students will be given a series of open-ended and problem-centred "cases" designed to lead to the creation of a professional-calibre, highly creative collection of 20 images that will constitute the primary evidence of successful learning in the course.

To accommodate the large volume of images that will result, a multi-tiered system combining peer-to-peer evaluation through online groups; peer mentoring by strong students in tutorials and online; critiques by TAs; and final assessment by the instructor (me) will be used to evaluate the assignments.

The success of this teaching and learning project will be measured by the number of students achieving the goal of creating a strong creative portfolio. In particular, the number of A+ marks awarded in the redesigned course in comparison to previous iterations of the course will be used to judge the success of the new course design. I will also collect feedback and suggestions for improvement from students and TAs.

Questions addressed: The main project question is this: Will structural changes to the course design of IAT 244, focused on a multi-level feedback and marking scheme in combination with a case-based approach to teaching and learning, result in improved learning results as demonstrated by the creation of more portfolio-quality work within this course (compared to previous semesters) and an increased number of A+ final marks? Sub-questions:

  • Will the marks on individual weekly assignments reflect ongoing development toward portfolio-quality work?
  • How successful is the peer-to-peer evaluation process? What revisions need to be made?
  • How successful is the peer mentoring process? What revisions need to be made?
  • How successful is TA instruction on critiquing photography? What revisions need to be made?
  • How successful is a case-based approach to teaching and learning? What revisions need to be made?

Knowledge sharing: Findings based on an initial trial of the case-based approach in IAT 202 New Media Images in spring 2012 will be summarized in a document for circulation to all SIAT faculty members and relevant colleagues in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT). The document will integrate research results so as to provide a model for planning of such courses within FCAT. I also intend to generate publishable research out of the larger grant that will, I hope, follow upon completion of this study.

Filimowicz, M. A., & Tzankova, V. K. (2014). Creative making, large lectures, and social media: Breaking with tradition in art and design education. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 16(2): (pp. 156-172). doi: 10.1177/1474022214552197