University of Strathclyde



  1. A themed report (2000 words / 60% weighting) coursework required the students’ to select one topic from six  different lecture (CL437 Project Analysis) topics and to critique the topic and where possible link their discussion to professional practice
  2. The rich picture assessment (20% weighting) required students to form self-selected pairs with a peer who had researched a different topic to their own. Each pair peer review the other’s “themed” coursework report and  the students’ were encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue that would ideally be the catalyst for reflective thinking, leading to synergy, unexpected learning, and providing links between what may have initially appeared to be disparate topics.
  3. The rich picture task required the students to represent this new knowledge in a pictorial format. The students were sent links to guidance (1,2,3) explaining the concept and purpose of rich pictures and were required to construct a rich picture during a 2 hour class session. The students were informed that coloured pens and flip chart paper would be made available and that they could bring along any other art materials that they may like to use. It was envisaged that this activity would offer a fun environment for practicing sketching / doodling and challenge students’ to be intuitive & creative in the representation of their combined knowledge.
  4. The students’ were informed that they would have 90 minutes to complete their rich pictures and that on completion all of the posters would be displayed for viewing. As an incentive to encourage the students to view the posters in an active manner a competitive element was introduced whereby the students were asked to make one vote for their favourite rich picture poster.  A small cash prize for the two authors of the most popular poster was offered. Given that the viewing window was time bound the students were not issued with objective guidance on how to assess the quality of the posters and were left to make their own personal value judgements.
  5. The smaller part of the assessment (5% weighting) required the students’ to submit an anonymous one-page reflective report to MyPlace. The students’ were informed that this part of the assessment would not be graded and that they would receive 100% for recoding their honest opinions concerning their participation in the rich picture Afl. The purpose of this part of the Afl was twofold, (1) to encourage the students to develop metacognition skills through reflecting on their own practice of acquiring explicit and tacit knowledge, and (2) to assist my own understanding of employing rich pictures as a pedagogical intervention and to evaluate its effectiveness in conjunction with my assessment of their posters.


(1)           The Open University (2016) Diagramming for development 1 - Bounding realities, Rich Pictures,

(2)           What is Rich Picturing? 6 Tips to Get Started with Rich Picturing

(3)           Bell, S and Morse, S (2013) How People Use Rich Pictures to Help Them Think and Act, Syst Pract Action Res. 26:331–348.


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Contact Details

Dr Mike Murray (


Assessment and feedback



The Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) are licensed by the Engineering Council (EngC) to undertake scrutiny of educational programmes in regards to accreditation of institutions offering programmes that it will accept as meeting the requirements to register as  a professional engineer. Consulting the JBM (2017) Guidelines for Developing Degree Programmes (1) offers support that aligns with the aims of introducing the rich picture Afl:

Specifically, the JBM refer to providing students with a ‘stimulating and relevant   education experiences’ (p.3); the provision of a learning environment which facilitates ‘collaboration, creative thinking and ingenuity’ and a requirement to ‘develop freehand sketching as a standard tool of engineering’ (p.4);  for students to ‘think outside the box’ in order to find better solutions’ (p.7); to demonstrate ‘team working’ and ‘ creative skills’(p.7); to ‘undergo reflective learning’ and to encourage students to ‘take   responsibility for their own learning and intellectual development’ (p.8); and to provide the distinctive educational base that will produce graduates who are ‘imaginative, versatile, confident and inquisitive’ (p.23); to encourage students to ‘create and use sketches and diagrams as a direct means of communication or to complement written material or verbal presentation’(p.29);and to  ‘encourage the development of exploratory self-learning’ (p.30)

(1)   JBM (2017) Guidelines for Developing Degree Progammes,


Some typical feedback from students, the attached document provides more themes and examples of the rich pictures.

In conclusion I really valued the experience of the rich picture exercise as it was a great teamwork experience and forced imaginative thinking between the partners. I would 100% recommend this to be repeated for the years to come. It has enhanced my learning and was a very fun learning experience.

This exercise also promoted team-work across the year and provided a new synergistic approach to learning. It provided a fun and energetic way to take on board new concepts. Furthermore, it has taught me how imagery can be a useful tool to communicate and learn information.

I personally have not enjoyed much of the Civil Engineering course, having found the lack of practical learning to be very taxing and de-stimulating. This type of exercise, if included in other parts of the course which are particularly dry I feel that this would enhance the engagement of the students and improve the enthusiasm within the class. As a result of this, it was very refreshing to see the class entirely focussed on the task in hand which was set out.



Rather than deliver at typical 2 hour lecture type session, this required hours more preparation and coordination.

  1. Required to coordinate a one off room for group work through room booking system as lecture theatre unsuitable.
  2. Undertake personal research on rich pictures to make sure I have sound knowledge - say 4 hrs research and read.
  3. Purchase my own flip charts and pens as it has been made too cumbersome to do this through the finance system.
  4. Read the reflective reports and do some basic thematic analysis so that it does have some resemblance to action research and an intended pedagogical intervention- 8 hrs
  5. Type up case study- 3hrs

Circa 15hrs compared to a 2hr lecture

Lessons Learnt

Yes, I piloted the rich pictures with my 1st year class and overall they found it dificult to be imaginative and creative in their representaion of their knolwedge. To some exetent this was also evident in the 4th year case study.

For the 2018-19 session I will spend more time scaffolding the students appreciation of the necessity for creative & imaginative attributes linked to engineering design and to reinforce that the rich picture creation can be a surrogate for using these attributes in  a professional context.

A 2 hour session is required for students to practice and complete a rich picture so that discussion and refelection can be nurtured during the practical activity. Time is required for synergy to emerge from the process of collaboration. So, as suggeted by several students, do not not rush the display of pictures and the end of a 2hr session. Leave this until the following session where students have more time to view and talk to their peers about the display.


This case study was undertaken with an elective class (n=62) where studenst paired up to undertake the rich picture construction. In the 1st year (n=84) pilot, groups of four students were involved in each picture. Rich pictures can be undertaken by individuals or groups so there does not appear to be any scalability issues.

Remember that desks are required so a room with movable furniture will be required.

Suggestions for Transferability

Rich pictures could be used as formative / summative assessment or an assessment for learning exercise in any subject / discipline.

It could ideally be used to explore threshold concepts where students are challenged to make their understanding visual through an informal and playful learning experience.


See attached document (CL437 Rich Pictures) for a soft Thematic Analysis of the students’ reflective comments and rich picture examples.

  File Modified
PDF File CL437 Rich Pictures.pdf May 14, 2018 by Alex Buckley