Thursday, 27 May 2010

On Tuesday 25th May I was at Oxford Brookes University as part of a review event for the Programme Assessment Strategies (PASS) Project. Also at the event was Graham Gibbs. Graham spoke about his experiences of effecting change within programmes and institutions. His views mirrored our experiences on the ESCAPE project, namely that there is a "hidden" network of influence that you must be able to tap into, if you want to effect change within a school . A component of the "hidden" network are the informal meetings that take place in schools. For example; in the corridor, in social areas, over coffee and at lunchtimes. These informal venues are often where the hierarchy is relaxed and a more open discourse is possible. The discussions are often robust and play key part in forming opinions within schools.

Graham's views certainly mirrored our experiences.It was something that we had anticipated when considering our approach to working with our stakeholders. One of the early parts of the ESCAPE project involved mapping the influences of individuals and teams within schools. We looked at who were the key opinion formers within the schools and how we could get them "on side". Additionally we looked what were the formal and as important, informal channels of communication within schools.

We also looked at how we could encourage collateral effects - how the stakeholders we were working with could influence others. Both over the course of the project and beyond as part of our sustainability planning.

As part of the event I was invited by Peter Hartley - who chaired, to present an outline the ESCAPE project. It was extremely valuable to get the benefit of the teams experience experience in the discussion that followed.
Although the tenure of the meeting was one of looking a programme level interventions rather than at modular level ( - which is the ESCAPE perspective), there are common assessment themes that transcend both projects which started to emerge - such as ownership of the assessment and managing change within teams.

I was able to suggest some alternative approaches for the PASS project that involved taking a cross module approach to assessment that is designed to break down the barriers between modules as a "halfway house" to full programme level assessments. I spoke about the experiences of two of the programmes at the University of Hertfordshire ,that have worked towards implementing a more integrated approach to assessment that attempts to transcend the module based assessment model.

As part of the meeting Graham Gibbs discussed his guide "using assessment to support student learning" which is available at:

Graham provided me with a copy of the guide during the meeting. It is an extremely useful resource for teams embarking on using assessment as a vehicle for learning. The ideas set out by Graham are illustrated and supported by case studies, which makes it very accessible and relevant to the reader.

On my train journey home I was able to reflect on what had been really useful and informative day!

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