At some time in March, the work I carried out against Photography 1: The Art of Photography was formally assessed by both the OCA and an external examination board, and to say I spent a good few weeks wondering and pondering on how my work would received was an understatement.  I had already decided that my continuation with the course would be governed by these results, which whatever the outcome, could change the course of my life considerably (sounds dramatic I know, but it is true).

The OCA advised that the results from the March assessment event would be posted on their website at 10AM on Monday 25th March, and all those students who had confirmed that they wanted their details posted online would be contacted as soon as the results were made available, I was one of these students.

At 10AM on Monday 25th March 2013 an email appeared in my inbox titled “Provisional Assessment Results: March 2013” – so this was it.  It took me a good few hours to build up to opening this email, and when I could not stand the tension anymore, I opened the link and scrolled through the list of students ID’s until I came to mine.  The mark given against my TOAP assessment was 57%, which, at my current level of learning equates to ‘Work of a Class 2:2 standard’.  Hmmmm…  I was not really sure how I felt about this, as I knew that I had worked my butt off over the past year, and felt sure in my mind that I deserved something a little better.  A breakdown of this result would follow in the post shortly, so once again I had to play the waiting game, this time to receive the official breakdown of my result, and to finally see where both my strengths and weakness lay.

On the day I was ready to return to Korea, an envelope was put through my letterbox, the breakdown of my formal assessment result.  I tore it open and read the letter, and as I re-read the document, I once again had that feeling of doubt and was disappointed with what I saw.  I shoved the letter in my bag and headed off to the airport.

It has been four days since I received my results and I have read and re-read the letter many times.  Thankfully, I do not feel the same way as I did when I first laid eyes on my document; now let me try to explain..

At the top of the results sheet is the following statement:

Breakdown of Marks

Below is a breakdown of your mark, which shows the number of marks you were awarded according to the criteria you are assessed against.  We do not provide further breakdown on individual marks other than below.  The course you completed has now been assed through the OCA formal assessment procedure.  Your work was assessed by independent assessors, who were in turn moderated by the University appointed External Examiner.  Your result has also been ratified by the OCA Directorate.

I find the sentence ‘we do not provide further breakdown on individual marks other than below’ a little frustrating, as there is no actual detail or information surrounding the marks given against the assessment criteria, but if this is all we have to go on, then so be it – a breakdown of my results follows:

Course – Photography 1: Art of Photography



Demonstration of technical and visual skillsMaterials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and composition skills



Quality of outcomeContent, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualization of thoughts, communication of ideas



Demonstration of creativityImagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice



ContextReflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at levels 5 and 6, critical reviews and essays)






Firstly, the explanations for the assessment criteria were not included in the original result breakdown, so when I first looked at the figures, all I saw were the marks against each title.  But, when setting these marks against the text, which I have included above, I can see better where the assessor is coming from and feel better about my grade, although I still feel that a more detailed breakdown of this could have been provided.

The first two results are over 50% of the range given, so that is a good start, but there is room for improvement.  As I continue to learn and grow within my photography, all of the skills mentioned should grow with me, I just need to make sure that as I continue to learn, everything is correctly documented in my learning log.

Creatively, I sit around the middle of the course expectations, but again I think that as I continue to improve technically, my creative juices will start to flow more freely and I will start to take a few risks and become a little braver with my work.  The development of a personal voice is a little daunting though, as I am still trying to work that one out and as I keep on learning new skills and trying new types of photography, the pathway I want to follow becomes increasingly confusing and changes every few weeks.

The area that needs most work surrounds context, but thinking about this logically, this was always going to be the area that let me down.  It was pointed out many times during TAOP that I struggled with my reflective and critical thinking abilities, and my mark here really underlines what my previous tutor commented on repeatedly!  It is not easy to be critical of ones own work or the work of others, but this is something I am trying to deal with, and in the additional assessor comments below, evidence that this is slowly developing can be seen (but it still needs lots and lots of work).

The additional comments I received are actually quiet encouraging:

  • Your submission is very detailed with well laid out notes
  • Excellent documentation
  • Don’t always trust spell checker and auto-correct
  • Images are well printed
  • Evidence shown of development of camera handling skills and technique
  • Your confidence is being built through experience and assimilation of feedback
  • Evidence of skills development through the module
  • Evidence of reflection developing through the tutors guidance though this needs to be substantially developed
  • You need to develop an awareness of an audience for your images, this could be developed through engaging with contemporary practice
  • Little evidence of reading critically about and around the subject, Charlotte Cotton is not in your reading list despite being recommended at the start of the course
  • You will move on significantly if you read and think about the topics highlighted in Liz Wells.

Before submission, because we had no firm process in place, the area that did worry me was the administration of my online learning log and the supporting documentation I submitted for assessment, but it appears that I got it right, so I will continue along the same lines when submitting my DPP work for assessment.

It is personally encouraging to see that others have found improvement in my work, which is evident throughout my learning log, although there is always room to continue improving.  I have always put 200% into my studies, which dose seem to be paying off, and if I continue my DPP studies in the same way as my TOAP studies, I should continue to see improvement.

So overall, I have two areas to really work on:

a) My reflective and critical thinking/writing, not a surprise and is something of a continued work in progress.

b) My critical reading around the subject – something I admit to not doing at all over the past year, and something I need to start looking into for the future.

On reflection (!) and looking back to the very beginning of my photography studies where I knew nothing and wanted to learn everything, this is a good first result, I should not look to run before I can walk, but if I remain consistent, I should continue to improve.  Having been given a provisional mark of a 2:2 standard of work, I am only 2 points away from a 2:1 standard of work – this is another encouraging sign, as I am sure I can make that up over the coming months and produce even better levels of work for my DPP assessment.

It should be noted that marks received at level’s 1 & 2 do not count towards the final degree class, but simply give an idea of the level currently being achieved.

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  1. Pingback: Formal Assessment Results | People and Place

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