Guidance on preparing your submission

Site: OCA Learn
Course: Assessment Guidance
Book: Guidance on preparing your submission
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Date: Thursday, February 22, 2024, 9:24 PM

1. A selection of entries from your learning log

As an OCA student you will have kept a learning log as a way of documenting your creative responses to course activities, your reflections on your progress, and responses to formative feedback. For some courses, such as creative writing, music or MA Fine Art, this may take a different form or name, but in this section we will refer to them as learning logs. You may have chosen to keep your learning log as an online blog, notebook, a digital file, or other format.

1.1. Exercise: Selecting entries from your learning log

“I appreciated the greater demands on our judgement. It made me think more about my work, go back through the discussions with my tutor too.” – OCA Student

You are asked to present a selection of entries from your learning log structured around your learning outcomes. We are asking for a selection, rather than your whole learning log, to make the assessment process more focused. This is to help assessors spend more time on what needs to be assessed, and for students to reflect on their learning experiences, and signpost the key stages of their development.

  1. Identify your learning outcomes. Your course will usually have four or five distinct learning outcomes. These are available in the Learning outcomes & subject specific guidance.
  2. Interpret the learning outcomes. Where have you covered these topics in your course? There might be a specific assignment or project that evidences a particular outcome, or you may have worked on this theme throughout the course. 
  3. Make a selection of learning log entries. Which entries do you feel best support the stated learning outcomes? Select between 2 or 3 entries per learning outcome. 
  4. Document your learning log entries. Depending on the format of your learning log, you can do this by scanning, videoing, or photographing physical learning log entries, typing up handwritten notes, or copying the URL, or web address, of individual blog post entries.

It can be useful to look at how other students have prepared for assessment by viewing student stories on the WeAreOCA blog.

1.2. Tip: documenting your physical learning log

If you work with physical learning logs, sketchbooks, notebooks, or other preparatory work, then you will need to think about how you capture this digitally with the resources available to you. For example, by scanning, photographing, or videoing. The camera on your phone will be fine.

Try to keep your images steady by bracing yourself or using a tripod or ‘gorilla grip’ style flexible mount (for camera or phone), if available. You won’t need professional lighting but make sure you have a few sources of ordinary lighting, or ideally use daylight. It is a good idea to check your images, and retake if necessary. Remember that you are recording a selection, so you do not need to photograph everything.

1.3. Tip: documenting your digital learning log

If you already have an online learning log, you may simply want to select the posts you wish to submit, and copy the URL or web link for each of these posts into a new document. The assessors will follow your links directly to your posts.

Alternatively, there are digital tools that can assist in the capture of learning log entries or other documents. These include the ‘Document Scanning’ feature of the Notes app on Apple iPhones and iPads, or the ‘Scan’ feature found in the Google Drive app for either Apple or Android devices. An advantage of the latter being that the resulting scanned images can be made to go directly into your OCA Google Drive rather than requiring an additional step.

2. A selection of creative work

Selected work can take many forms, depending on the subject you are studying. For example, a portfolio of finished outcomes, final drafts of creative writing, a set of final composition pieces.

2.1. Exercise: Making a selection of your work

You have been asked to make a selection of your work. 

  1. What selection are you being asked to make? – check any specific assessment requirements in the Learning outcomes & subject specific guidance to identify what you are being asked to select, and how this might relate to your learning outcomes. 
  2. Choosing your selection – take time to look through your work and identify examples that you feel fit what you are being asked to select. You may want to start with a long list and then narrow this down. 
  3. Documenting your work – for physical work you may want to photograph, scan, or video your selection, and for digital work, you will need to collect together your digital files. 
  4. Presenting your selection – you can present your selection in a number of different ways. For example, as a series of numbered files in a folder, collected together into a digital portfolio, such as a PDF document, or as a slide show. Identify the most achievable way of presenting your selection together and in line with the guidelines. 
  5. Reflecting on the process – keep a note of your selection process in your learning log, as you may want to refer back to this in your reflective evaluation.

3. Critical Reviews

Depending on your course units assignments or projects, you may have been asked to produce a critical review, essay, or other written reports as part of your assessment requirements.

3.1. Exercise: Critical reviews

  1. Do you need to submit a critical review? Please check the Learning outcomes & subject specific guidance. If you do, please continue with the following steps. 
  2. Check your word count and spelling. If you have not done so already, check the spelling and word count in your document using your software. 
  3. Check your use of Harvard Referencing. You should cite any research you have undertaken through secondary sources using the Harvard referencing system. The system can be applied to books, quotations, images, films and any other work you wish to reference. Through written citations it helps to locate work and prevents any accidental plagiarism. To find out how to use Harvard, please visit The Library page on OCA Learn, and the Library Help and Support section.
  4. Documenting your work. You can choose to either type up your Critical Review using the available Google Drive tools (Gdocs) or otherwise submit a Microsoft Word docx file. You can obtain MS Office 365 applications, including MS Word, by registering as a student user on the Office 365 Education site.
  5. Submitting work for plagiarism checks. All extended written work - this will be particular assignments such as critical reviews / essays (and all final assignment pieces for creative writing assessments) must be submitted for plagiarism checks by the submission deadline. Please prepare your files in either Word or PDF formats (see the Plagiarism checks subchapter for full details).

4. A reflective presentation

A reflective presentation or evaluation is an opportunity to reflect on your experiences of the unit as a whole, identify your key learning, and to help frame your assessment submission. The format of the presentation can take a number of forms, as described by the following students.

“I thought a video presentation would be the best way to showcase sketchbook work and talk through the learning objectives. I feet it was more effective having images to back up the limited words allowed.” 

I opted for a... “written evaluation - putting things on paper is how I naturally work through my thoughts and sift my ideas. The literal editing process helps me to refine my reflections and draw out the essence of my experience.” 

“A video was easier to communicate how I felt and more relaxed.” 

“My video skills are currently non-existent and due to pressure of time I needed to use the medium I am most proficient in. I was intrigued by the idea of the video though and would like to try it at some time in the future. I did watch other students video presentations on the forum with interest.”

On this occasion (I opted for) a written evaluation as I'd already prepped for it that way. In future, with the new skills I've learned, I will produce a video.”

4.1. Exercise: Producing a reflective presentation or evaluation

You are asked to produce a reflective presentation or evaluation. This can take the form of a presentation, short video, or a written evaluation. It should be no longer than 6 minutes or an equivalent 750 words. 

For Creative Writing students the evaluation takes the form of a reflective presentation or commentary. Please see the Critical Writing Guide for more details. 

  1. Be reflective – use this opportunity to review the unit as a whole and identify what you have gained by doing it. You may want to re-read your learning log and formative feedback to help identify key learning moments. 
  2. Here are a few questions you may want to use as a starting point – What were your expectations at the start of your unit? How have you responded to tutor feedback? What hurdles have you faced, and how have you responded? What do you think you have learned as a whole? 
  3. Capture and present your thoughts – depending on how you like to work, you can write a short written evaluation, or produce a slide show that visually connects your reflections to your work. Alternatively, you can produce a short video or audio piece in which you can talk directly to the assessors. Identify an approach that is achievable for you.

5. Plagiarism checks

Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work, in whole or in part, as your own. Work means any intellectual output, and typically includes text… - Academic Misconduct Policies

All extended written work needs to be checked for plagiarism, using the plagiarism checking software TurnItIn. Extended written work will be particular assignments from across various OCA course units such as critical reviews, essays or written reports, or pieces of creative writing such as prose, poetry and script (please note that this does not include learning log entries or written evaluations).

The Assessment Team will carry out the plagiarism checks on students behalf by uploading their work to TurnItIn - see the How do I submit? chapter in the Submitting your work section for more details. To help students understand whether or not their work requires a plagiarism check, we have made the following list of units that will have a requirement:

Stage One (HE4)

  • All Creative Writing course units (CW4) - Final drafts of selected assignments for assessment (please note there is no need to send original drafts, annotated copies or tutor reports for plagiarism checks).
  • CA4CAT - Final drafts of selected assignments for assessment.
  • CA4ECA - Final draft of 1000 word Critical Review.
  • AH4UVC - Final drafts of all assignments for assessment.
  • DR4EDM - Final draft of the 500 word Critical Evaluation.
  • PT4DFP - Final draft of 1000 word Critical Review.
  • PT4UPM - Final draft of the 500 word Critical Evaluation.
  • PH4APH - Final draft of 1000 word Critical Review.
  • PH4CAN - Final draft of the essay for assignment 4.
  • TX4IAP - Final draft of the essay for assignment 4.
  • TX4ITP - Final draft of 1000 word Critical Review.
  • VC4IVC - Final draft of 1000 word Critical Review.
Stage Two (HE5)

  • All Creative Writing course units - Final drafts of selected assignments, and the final draft of the creative reading commentary for assessment (please note there is no need to send original drafts, annotated copies or tutor reports for plagiarism checks).
  • All other OCA course units at Stage Two (HE5)* as each of these course units requires the production of a critical review / essay / written report or other form of extended academic writing.
*Textiles 2: Contemporary Context is the only course unit exempt from this check as there is no requirement to produce an essay / critical review.
Stage Three (HE6)

  • All Creative Writing course units - Final drafts of selected assignments, and final draft of the creative reading commentary for assessment (please note there is no need to send original drafts, annotated copies or tutor reports for plagiarism checks).
  • All Contextual Studies / Research / Visual Research course units at Stage Three (HE6) as each of these course units requires the production of an extended piece of academic writing (often referred to as a dissertation).
  • All 3.1 course units - Depending on how you have approached your studies on 3.1, and your course unit's own requirements, you may need to submit for plagiarism checks. If you have chosen written options instead of presentation options for the Critical Review or Dissertation proposal and literature review, then you will need to submit these.
If the course unit you are preparing for assessment does not appear in this list, you do not need to submit for plagiarism checks.

6. Preparing your submission

All of your work will need to be in a digital format in order to submit it. Links to existing online learning logs can be cut and pasted, or physical material/work photographed, scanned, or videoed. You will need to use the same digital approach to document your selection of creative work, unless it is already in a digital format. Critical reviews and other essays can be presented as digital documents, whether written or presentation. Ideally, your reflective presentation is produced as a digital slideshow or video with audio, so we can hear from you directly.

Use accessible digital formats that make it easy for assessors to easily access your work. This means using: 

  • PDFs - for large or lengthy documents such as portfolios or learning log entries 
  • JPEG, JPG - for images 
  • Google Doc or Word documents for written elements (.doc / .docx / .pdf) 
  • Videos / short film can be saved as .mp4 or .mov files 
  • Audio files can be saved as .mp3 files 
  • All score-based work (Music course units only) should be saved using Sibelius or Dorico files only. No other file types will be accepted.
  • Avoid sending work in specialist software such as Adobe Photoshop or Apple Pages files

If you are new at digitally documenting your work, you will find additional advice and guidance through the Department Space for your discipline on OCA Learn. Remember, you don't need to be an expert in documenting your work, you will develop new skills by doing it, and over time these skills will improve.