Professor Susan Orr
BiographyProfessor Susan Orr is Dean and a Professor in Creative Practice Pedagogy at the University of the Arts London. Prior to UAL, Susan was an Assistant Dean and Acting Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University. Susan is a Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University (Centre for Excellence in Media Practice).
Susan studied at University College London and completed a Doctor of Education at the Institute of Education University College London. Her thesis Making Marks: the Artful Practice of Assessment in Fine Art explored fine art lecturers’ studio based assessment practices. She has written extensively on the subject of art and design in higher education as well as delivering a range of keynotes and papers at conferences in the UK and abroad. Susan is editor for the journal Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, and on the editorial board of three further journals: Teaching in Higher Education, Writing in Creative Practice and Media Education Research Journal. Susan regularly peer reviews work for a wide range of educational and creative journals.
Susan is a member of the European League of Institute of Arts Academy Conference Steering Group and was on the steering group for GLAD (Group for Learning in Art and Design) between 2010 and 2018. Susan was on the CHEAD (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) steering group from 2013-2016.
Susan is Chair of the Arts Subject Panel for the Teaching Excellence Framework.
In 2010, Susan was awarded a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship. This was awarded in recognition of her teaching, leadership, research and contribution to art and design HE pedagogy. She is an AdvanceHE Principal Fellow and a Fellow of the RSA.
Susan recently co-authored (with Professor Alison Shreeve) a book entitled Art and Design Pedagogy in Higher Education: Knowledge, Values and Ambiguity in the Creative Curriculum with Routledge.
At UAL she leads the Teaching, Learning and Employability Exchange which is comprised of Arts Education, Careers and Employability, Academic Enhancement team and Digital Learning. She is responsible for the delivery of the University’s Teaching and Learning Strategy. This strategy was nominated for a Times Higher Leadership and Management Award in 2017.
Susan's doctoral research grew out of her interest in communities of practice in fine art education.
'I noted that attention was often given to the artefacts of assessment (the learning outcomes and marking criteria) at the expense of understanding or addressing the ways these reified elements were used in practice. As a result, my work offers a close analysis of the assessment practices as lived by its key actors (lecturers and students).
Working from a social constructivist perspective and employing Bourdieu’s work as a theoretical lens I explore narratives of subjectivity and objectivity. My research identifies that lecturers’ assessment discourses interlock and enmesh narratives of identity, process, product and connoisseurship. I offer an account of assessment rigour in Fine Art assessment.
More recently my interests have widened in scope and I have researched the assessment of creative collaborative group work, the role of reflection in creative practice education and the problematics of the National Student Survey in Art and Design. I have collaborated with Professor Mantz Yorke, Professor Sue Bloxham and others. Underpinning my work is a commitment to researching the pedagogy of ambiguity that lies of the heart of art and design education in HE'
- Orr S. Demoncratizing Knowledge in Art and Design Education (2019)
- Orr S. 21st Century Art School Curriculum: Highways, by-ways and leaving a trail (2018)
- Orr S. Editorial (Art Design and Communication in Higher Education 16:2) (2017)
- Orr S. Editorial (2016)
- Orr S. Editorial (2016)
- Orr S. Editorial (2015)
- Orr S, Yorke M, Blair B. ‘The answer is brought about from within you’: a student-centred perspective on pedagogy in art and design (2014)
- Orr S, Bloxham S. Making judgements about students making work: Lecturers’ assessment practices in art and design (2013)
- Yorke M, Orr S, Blair B. Hit by a perfect storm? Art & Design in the National Student Survey (2013)
- Orr S. Being an artist you kind of, I mean, you get used to excellence’: Identity, Values and Fine Art Assessment Practices (2011)
- Bloxham S, Boyd P, Orr S. Mark my words: the role of assessment criteria in UK higher education grading practices (2011)
- Orr S, Richmond D, Dory Richmond J. Reflect on This! (2010)
- Orr S. We kind of try to merge our own experience with the objectivity of the criteria’: The role of connoisseurship and tacit practice in undergraduate fine art assessment (2010)
- Orr S. Collaborating or fighting for the marks? Students' experiences of group work assessment in the creative arts (2010)
- Hind C, Orr S. Space and Place: Writing encounters self (2009)
- Orr S. Assessment moderation: constructing the marks and constructing the students (2007)
- Orr S. Making Marks: assessment practices in art and design (2007)
- Orr S, Blythman M. Mrs Mop Does Magic (2006)
- Orr S, Blythman M, Mullin J. Designing Your Writing/Writing Your Design: Art and Design Students Talk About the Process of Writing and the Process of Design (2006)
- Orr S, Blythman M, Mullin J. Textual and Visual Interfaces in Design Education (2004)
- Orr S, McDougall J. Enquiry into learning and teaching in arts and creative practice (2018)
- Orr S, McDougall J. Enquiry into Learning and Teaching in Arts and Creative Practice (2014)
- Austerlitz N, Blythman M, Grove-White A, Jones BA, Jones CA, Morgan S, Orr S, Shreeve A, Vaughn S. Mind the gap: expectations, ambiguity and pedagogy within art and design higher education (2008)
- Orr S. Real or imagined?: The shift from norm referencing to criterion referencing in higher education (2007)
- Orr S. Learning the practice of assessment in fine art (2007)
- Devet B, Orr S, Blythman M, Bishop C. Peering Across the Pond: The Role of Students in Developing Other Students’ Writing in the US and UK (2006)
- Blythman M, Orr S, Hampton D, McLaughlin M, Waterworth H. Strategic Approaches to the Development and Management of Personal Tutorial Systems in UK Higher Education (2006)
- Orr S. Studio based mark agreement practices; the said and the unsaid (2006)
- Blythman M, Mullin J, Milton J, Orr S. Implementation Issues For Study Support (2003)
- Blythman M, Orr S. A joined up policy approach to student support (2002)
- Orr S, Ball S, Bew C, Bloxham S, Brown S, Kleiman P, May H, McDowell L, Morris E, Payne E, Price M, Rust C, Smith B, Waterfield J. A Marked Improvement: transforming assessment in higher education. (2012)
- Blair B, Orr S, Yorke M. ‘Erm, that question... I think I probably would’ve just put something in the middle and sort of moved on to the next one, because I think it’s really unclear’: How art and design students understand and interpret the National Student Survey (2012)
- Blair B, Orr S, Yorke M. How art and design students understand and interpret the National Student Survey (2011)
- Blythman M, Orr S, Blair B. Critiquing the Crit (2007)