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A sense of belonging is considered one of the most important needs of students in their learning. The pandemic has deepened feelings of ‘unbelonging’ among many higher education students as it has exacerbated existing inequalities.

This QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project will propose new quality indicators that focus on belonging, compassion and equity, in critique of traditional metrics. It will identify approaches to assessment that nurture belonging through meaningful, compassionate interactions and practices.

By its conclusion in November 2022, the project will deliver a number of open-source outcomes that will be shared with the HE sector:

  • a symposium on compassionate assessment
  • a briefing paper on the project’s activity
  • a blog documenting the organic development of materials and providing a space for exchange of ideas
  • a participatory digital resource.

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Student Panel – Video

Amina Akhmedova and Simbi Juwon-Sulaiman are current students at UAL. They share their experiences of assessment in Fine Art and Graphic Design.

Talking us through their journeys in applying to university, Amina and Simbi explore their experiences of feedback. They make an urgent case for staff and students to build confidence to speak about intersectional identities in assessment and groups crits.

This session took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Ecosystems for Designing with Compassion – Video

Dr Maha Bali: Ecosystems for Designing with Compassion

Dr Maha Bali invites us into an interactive session that explores ways to design our curriculum and assessment in compassionate ways.

By designing systems that promote autonomy for students and teachers, student agency is held as a core way to enact compassionate assessment.

This session took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Lightning Talk Janine Francois – Video

Janine Francois, Course Leader for BA Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, UAL, shares her approaches of encouraging students to share their whole self through assessment.

We look at student’s work and reflect on how heritage, identity and personal practice can be valued within the art school.

This session took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Lightning Talk Mo Ling Chui – Video

Mo-Ling Chui, Course Leader for Design Management at London College of Communication, UAL, shares the Hackathon that was designed to address issues of identity, belonging and sense of community.

Using collaborative strategies and design thinking, students were prompted to self-assess using inspirational prompts: ‘I like, I wish, I wonder’.

This session took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Lightning talk Michael Smith – Video

Michael Smith, Course Leader for Animation at Leeds Arts University shares some of his approaches to building community and belonging through assessment practices.

The use of dialogic approach to feedback is explored as a way to reduce anxiety and pressure for students.

This lightning talk took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Creative Arts Learning Model – Video



Professor Sheila Gaffney and Nina Spencer offer their insights into how registry and academics worked together to develop an assessment framework: Creative Arts Learning Model (CALM) at Leeds Arts University.

The framework responded to concerns over learning outcomes and assessment criteria that were not fit for purpose in a creative arts context.

This session took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Panel discussion on pass/fail assessment – Video

This panel discussion on pass/fail assessment in arts higher education is between invited speakers:

  • Professor Sam Broadhead (LAU)
  • Dr Neil Currant, (UAL)
  • Peter Hughes, (LAU)

It is facilitated by Dr Kate Mori (Academic Engagement Manager, QAA). 

The discussion explores the potential of pass/fail as a compassionate approach to assessment and explores the challenges in changing practice and policies from the perspective of staff, students and the wider institution. A fascinating conversation that explores the complexities of feedback and assessment and implications for student belonging. 

This panel discussion on pass/fail assessment in arts higher education took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).

Symposium 21/10/2021 – Keynote from Dr Jan McArthur – Video

Assessment for Social Justice: why belonging matters

Dr Jan McArthur rethinks the purpose of assessment through the lens of social justice.

Drawing upon Axel Honneth, belonging is explored as relational and related to the philosophical idea of recognition.

We consider care, respect and esteem as ways to bring joy and compassion to assessment practices.

This keynote took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021.

The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Leeds Arts University (LAU).


Belonging through assessment Symposium

Thursday 21st October
10-4pm

Join us for a day of interactive discussion, reflection and practice sharing, exploring perspectives and possibilities of assessment to nurture belonging as a way to address issues of social justice.

This symposium will feature presenters from across the higher education sector including Dr Maha Bali (Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning & Teaching at the American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt) and Dr Jan McArthur (Senior Lecturer in Education and Social Justice at Lancaster University, UK).

Colleagues from University of the Arts London, Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University will open up the space to consider humanising, compassionate policies and pedagogies of assessment.

Topics will include: 

  • authentic assessment for social good in the creative industries 
  • compassionate feedback 
  • pass/fail grading and the implications of these on policy design and enactment.

This event forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’, led by University of the Arts London, partnered with Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University.

Please book your place here: https://events.qaa.ac.uk/qaaevents/435/home

More information
For more information about the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project, take a look at this blog.
You can also get in touch with Vikki Hill, Project Lead, at: v.hill@arts.ac.uk
International colleagues and non-QAA Members should contact Vikki directly.
This event will be recorded and shared on the project blog.

SpeakerTalkTimings BST Timings UTC
Vikki Hill
Project Lead, UAL
Welcome10-10.159-9.15
Dr. Jan McArthur
Lancaster University
Keynote10.15-11.159.15-10.15
 Break/ sharing space11.15-11.3010.15-10.30
Professor Sam Broadhead, LAU
Dr Neil Currant, UAL
Peter Hughes, LAU
Panel discussion on pass/fail assessment in arts higher education11.30 – 12.3010.30-11.30
 Lunch Break12.30-111.30-12
Dr Maha Bali American University in CairoKeynote1.-212-1
 Break/ sharing space2-2.151-1.15
Mo-Ling Chui, UAL
Michael Smith, UAL
Janine Francois, UAL

Belonging & Assessment Lightening Talks2.15-
3.15
1.15-2.15
Nina Spencer, LUA
Professor Sheila Gaffney   LAU
CALM assessment model3.15-3.30

2.15-2.30
Amina Akhmedova, UAL
Simbi Juwon-Sulaiman, UAL

Student panel  3.30-3.50

2.30-2.50
Vikki Hill
Project Lead, UAL
Close and Thank you  3.50-4

2.50-3