Teaching students to write about art: The results of a four-year patchwork text project

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


This session will begin by presenting the findings from a four-year project designed to gather undergraduate Fine Art students’ perceptions of replacing an essay with a Patchwork Text Assessment (PTA), a form of assessment in which a series of self-contained, thematically related patches are written at regular intervals over a series of weeks or months and which are then stitched together with a final meta-patch exploring the unity and inter-relatedness of the individual patches.

On completion of the PTA, students were asked various questions about their experiences, and their responses showed that, for the most part, they had found completing the PTA more difficult, more enjoyable, and more rewarding than writing an essay. Importantly, there were no suggestions that the PTA had dumbed down assessment practices, nor was there an increase in the workload of the academic staff supporting and assessing the PTA.

The advantages of using the PTA were that it required students to write more regularly and to engage with a wider range of topics than would have been the case when writing an essay. It developed students’ abilities to write in a focused way, and, because the patches were closely aligned to the teaching schedule, strongly encouraged and rewarded attendance at taught sessions. It also gave academic staff a more immediate impression about which students needed additional support, and this allowed for early recommendations to contact academic support staff (e.g., learning development tutors, academic librarians, etc.) or to make appointments with their personal academic tutors.

After we have presented the findings from the research project, delegates will be invited to consider and discuss to what extent they have assessments that they might like to move to PTA, and what benefits they could see and/or concerns they might have about adopting PTA
Period15 Jun 2021
Event titleLearning and Teaching Conference 2021
Event typeConference
LocationNorthamptonShow on map


  • patchwork text
  • assessment
  • writing
  • art
  • design