Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A presentation to the universities Academic Quality and Enhancement Committee (AQEC)

I was invited to present some examples of effective assessment and feedback practice to the Universities Academic Quality and Enhancement Committee (Tuesday 26th Jan 2009). Although the presentation was not specifically related to our ESCAPE activity it was a committee that the ESCAPE project needs to touch. If we are to be successful in making our activity mainstream and embedded then such committees need to be shown the value of our endeavours and we need them to help us respond to our challenges. Working with enthusiasts and champions is not enough. By definition, ESCAPE has an explicit intent to be sustained long after the project funding has finished.

I started by outlining the importance of assessment and feedback - both in terms of the challenges raised by the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and also (and ultimately) learning! Any meaningful and aligned curricula has assessment at its core.

I then moved to show some work that Helen Barefoot and I have been doing in terms of collecting case studies from the LTI and more importantly overlaying (on the case studies) principles of good assessment and feedback practice. The case studies are tagged to help staff find resources relating to their challenge.

I think (hope) the committee liked the presentation and also the pragmatism of recognising that academic colleagues are busy and so not only do we need to collect resources but help staff access them in ways that meets their needs.

The perpetual problem was raised about engaging students with feedback and the frustrations felt by staff in producing feedback that is not even collected let alone used by the students. I have my own views on why this is the case - but in many cases I think the problem resides with us. Just as assessment creates activity so too should feedback. Feedback also should create consequences.

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