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The Thinktank : work

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How did this design improve life?:
The Thinktank improves life by empowering students to reflect upon their work and to therefore, clarify their thoughts, think more creatively, and to start to identify what you they do not understand (In order to then seek help), engage with our ethos of peer group learning.

The form of the Thinktank is specifically designed to be open ended.
We provide the beginnings of an object ( 2 A1 posters, a plastic case and a rubber band) and a philosophy in order to encourage both individual creativity and dynamic collaborative exchange.

The Thinktank is a tool designed collaboratively (by students, tutors and an illustrators collective) for students with the intention that its use will help form positive life skills improving confidence, creativity, communication and time management.

We hope that this simple object can have a very large impact.
Name of Designer(s):
The Thinktank was designed collaboratively by Central Saint Martins, Foundation studies, Students and Staff and by the London based illustration collective, Peepshow
Designers professional status:
Other
Status of realization:
Realized
Kind of design:
Tangible
Produced by:
Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
Year of production, realization or publishing:
2004
Designed in country:
United Kingdom
Used on continents:
Entire World
Short description of design:
The Thinktank is a learning tool designed by & for Art & Design students:
· To empower students to reflect upon their learning, clarify their thoughts, think more creatively, identify what they do not understand, engage with our ethos of peer group learning
· To develop students life skills
Functionallity and use of design:
Students are issued with 2 A1 posters, a plastic folder and a rubber band, From these parts they construct a book. additional elements are added by students and tutors as necessary.
Students are encouraged/empowered to develop both form and the content of their own Thinktanks as they wish.
Drawbacks of life improvement:
The design of the Thinktank is currently under review. Some of the printed content currently within it is to be replaced by web-based information. This will save on paper/printing costs and will improve the ecological profile of our product.
Research and need:
We carried out extensive research in 2003 that built upon much current pedagogic thinking. We used our research to explore how students evaluate their work, to measure the
success of our Thinktank 2003-4, and to develop a revised Thinktank for 2004-5.
We did this by carrying out research with student and staff groups, and by looking at
similar initiatives within other Colleges.
The outcomes that we initially anticipated for the project were that we would
· Gain a better understanding of our students learning prior to their coming on our Course.
· Gain a better understanding of how our students develop an evaluative practice.
· Investigate and utilize relevant existing research to design a more effective
· ‘Thinktank’ for the 2004-5 academic year.
· Use this more effective ‘Thinktank’ to empower students to develop a better evaluative practice.
· To identify what our curriculum demands of our students regarding of skills of evaluation.
· To explore and utilise other relevant research
· To investigate how students reflect and evaluate using visual means,drawing, selection and display of imagery.
· To investigate how students reflect and evaluate using written language. (This can be divided into two different but interrelated areas, evaluating the work of others (Artists, Designers and peers), and self evaluation (evaluating your own practice).
· To measure the successes and failures of the 2003-4 ‘Thinktank’
· To work with both students and part-time staff to design a new version of the
· ‘Thinktank’ for 2004-
· To utilise the design skills of some tutors to create the new version ‘in house’.
· To deliver a related programme of staff development using this research, to
· ensure that the staff are in a position to help students take ownership of the
· new version of the ‘Thinktank’.

Strategies
.
We initially decided to construct an evaluative framework using the assessment
criteria of one of our units. We would then measure an early student project using
this framework, with the intention of tracking how the student’s skills developed over
the year. We also intended to get the students to self-evaluate their work using the
same framework in order to measure the differences between staff assessment and
student self-assessment.

It became clear that we first had to deal with the issue of how we explain the
language of the Course Handbook (National Diploma Level 3) to our students and
indeed to our staff before we could effectively make these comparisons. Students
and staff alike found this language to be impenetrable and not useful. We realised
that we had to turn this language into useful language rather than have it be an
obstacle to understanding.

Once our students were engaged with the language, then getting them to engage in
reflection within the Course framework would become easier. This idea suggested
not only an evolution of the ‘Thinktank’, but some new proposals as to how the
Course could be delivered. Learning our Course language through deconstructing
and reconstructing it in an engaging way within the context of a studio project could
become a vital part of our course structure.

We decided to explore these ideas within a series of staff and student focus groups.
We planned Focus group sessions that began with a small questionnaire to focus the thoughts of the group and to give
us relevant quantitative data. These were followed by group work that dug deeper into the issues.

Students and Staff were very positive about being involved within what they
perceived as being a process of constructive change.

The complete final report to this project is titled:
Improving evaluation through learning journals within Art & Design
(The development of the ‘Thinktank’, Level 3 Diploma in Foundation Studies, Central
Saint Martins College of Art & Design)
It can be found at https://www.s4s.org.uk/index.php?mod=research&page;=round&id;=62&round;=6
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