OLGA: An Online Grading Assistant for Student Assessment in Outcome-Based Visual Arts-Education

Peter Benz

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong



In all educational contexts fair assessment is at the very heart of the contract between the student, the instructor and the institution, and all parties involved accordingly rightfully expect assessment to be immanently objective, transparent, and thereby comprehensive.

In visual arts-education any assessment of achievement is traditionally based on the evaluation of the student’s creative outcomes: a ‘good’ (art) work will result in a ‘good’ grade. While this approach is common practice in the field, it is rather vulnerable to criticism: what is a ‘good work’ in the context of a visual arts course? 

Outcome-Based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) offers the chance to re-visit and challenge this traditional assessment approach in visual arts-education – and beyond –, as the creative work here merely serves as an object manifestation that is utilized to draw conclusions on the student’s learning; its educational meaning shifts from its aesthetic value to its evidence-character. At the same time the principle idea of OBTL is based on a hierarchic system of achievement levels, in which lower-level outcomes align and accumulatively generate increasingly complex outcomes at levels higher up.

Based on these initial considerations the author developed and realised an Online Grading Assistant (OLGA) – in operation today at HKBU’s Academy of Visual Arts, but in principle transferrable/extendable to other disciplines/departments – that integrates formative and summative course assessment, feedback-mechanisms to students, report functions on summative student, course and programme achievements, as well as managerial data on programme operation in a department-wide comprehensive online application, which is to be introduced to a wider audience in this presentation.

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