Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Assessment patterns - not long now!

As this project draws to a close so we are keen to keep supporting UH. Indeed our University has funded a year long, UH-wide project related to assessment. Naturally, the ESCAPE project will feed beautifully into one of the strands of the project.

One of things I'm drawing together is a set of assessment patterns. The patterns are graphic images that show the likely consequences of different assessment regimes. The patterns show differently weighted assessments located at different places on a timescale. I've shown these evolving patterns to a couple of (internal) audiences and they seem to be well liked. Just tidying up the document now and I'll post it here for comment. Watch this space.

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the usefulness (or other) of the graphic representations.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

ESCAPE themes - student focus

The ESCAPE (Assessment for Learning) themes have been synthesised from the literature. Indeed purposely draw on the literature to create the questions that prompt teachers to think about their assessment design in light of the six ESCAPE themes.

But the design is only one facet of good assessment. The role of the students also needs to be considered. Sure, the design should stimulate appropriate student behaviors etc. but we wanted to go further.

What we are working on now, is a set of 'accessing questions' for our ESCAPE themes that are explicitly written for students. We have the same themes (of course) but the accessing questions are different. Although, we have not tested the ideas out yet, I wanted to share some of our current thinking. Comments, questions, thoughts, most welcome.

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:
Engages students with the assessment criteria
Assessment is an important aspect of student learning and should be used to help reinforce the expected standards. Our interactions with students, through assessment and feedback, should help students engage with the assessment criteria.

Q1.1 I seek out opportunities to help me understand the academic standards expected of Higher Education.
Q1.2 I take advantage of the resources available (across UH) to ensure my work meets the academic standards expected of me.
Q1.3 When presented with an assessment task I read and ensure I correctly understand the assessment criteria
Q1.4 When I receive feedback on my work I look at my feedback and link it back to the assessment criteria to support my future learning
Q1.5 I ensure my assessment submission responds to all the assessment criteria / learning outcomes described in the assessment briefing documents

In what ways do you engage with the assessment criteria?

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:
Supports personalised learning
Students have their own motivations and interests. As individuals, students also have differing needs to support their learning. Whilst individual assessment tasks are likely to be an impractical proposition it is helpful to consider how assessment can support the personalisation of learning.

Q2.1 Where appropriate, I use my own personal experiences to support my assessment submissions.
Q2.2 I take opportunities to let my lecturer know about the areas I would like feedback on (strengths and weaknesses).
Q2.3 I take advantage of any assessment choices presented to me to suit my learning preferences (topic/weighting/timing/criteria).
To finish!
In what ways do seek out opportunities for personalised learning?

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:
Ensures feedback leads to improvement
Feedback is an essential aspect of assessment activity. Feedback will be more effective if it is prompt and makes sense to the students. Moreover, good feedback provides a commentary on the students’ submissions, offers advice on how the work could be developed and provides opportunities for students to demonstrably engage with the feedback.

Q3.1 I recognise the many ways that feedback is presented to me about my work and my learning
Q3.2 I know when and where feedback on my assessment is available and pick up my feedback as soon as it is released.
Q3.3 I take opportunities to discuss feedback with my lecturers and my peers.
Q3.4 I take the time to identify (by myself and / or with my peers) the strengths and weaknesses of my own assessment.
Q3.5 I use feedback from previous assessment tasks to help me improve my understanding and my next assessment task

In what ways do you ensure that the feedback leads to your improvement?

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:

Focuses on student development
Assessment has a significant influence on student motivation and the ways in which students approach their learning. Good assessment develops the students’ interests, motivations and encourages appropriate study behaviours. Ultimately good assessment motivates good learning.

Q4.1 When constructing my assessment submission I focus my effort on learning (i.e. linking concepts together) rather than just remembering information.
Q4.2 When I receive feedback on my assessment I look carefully at the comments, advice and encouragement and do not just concentrate on the marks I received
Q4.3 I take the time to review my own assessment (self assessment) before and after I submit my work
Q4.4 I make sure I identify the positive aspects of my own work as well as areas for improvement

In what ways do you ensure your activity focuses on the development of your learning?

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:
Stimulates dialogue
A good learning environment considers the individual student whilst also recognising the importance of a learning community. Further, learning is enhanced if students are able to share their conceptions and misconceptions. Good assessments support the development of a learning community and provide opportunities for students to engage in a dialogue about their learning.

Teachers too should have an opportunity to engage in a dialogue. A dialogue that helps them shape their teaching and engage in staff, module and programme development activity.

Q5.1. I take every opportunity to contribute to group and class discussions relating to assessment and learning.
Q5.2. I look for opportunities to discuss my assessment with my peers and my teachers
Q5.3 I look for other sources of help to support my assessment. This might include reading lists, learning groups, central support systems etc.
Q5.4. I use the assessment tasks (and subsequent feedback) to help me develop my understanding of the standards expected of me
Q5.5. I always read the feedback I receive and use it to help me shape my learning

In what ways do you engage in dialogue about your learning and assessment activity

Good Practice in Assessment-For-Learning:
Considers student and staff effort
Good assessments create a good educational experience. Good assessment set out high expectations, foster appropriate study behaviours and stimulate students’ inquisitiveness, motivation and interest. Good assessment should distribute the students’ effort across the study-period and topic areas. Good assessments will demand an appropriate amount of student effort. Good assessments will not, however overload students nor their teachers. Good assessments ensure there is adequate time for teachers to create and deliver feedback in ways that supports student learning.

Q6.1. I put all my assessment deadlines in a diary/online calendar so that I am aware of what is expected of me
Q6.2 I plan my work so that I am able to work on assessment tasks that have overlapping deadlines
Q6.3. I avoid cramming and spread out my time on assessment tasks
Q6.4 I follow the advice given (on the assignment briefing document) regarding how much time I should typically spend on my assessment activity
Q6.5 For each assessment task I carefully plan each stage of the work (e.g. reviewing previous feedback, reading/research for new assignment, creating a first draft, reviewing and amending, proof reading, self evaluation, submission)

In what ways do you plan and manage your effort to enhance your learning?

Again, comments / thought / questions most welcome.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Final Cluster Meeting

We have just had our last cluster meeting, which was held at the University of Exeter. The theme of the meeting was to give each project a chance to present what had been achieved over the two years and to look to the future - beyond the official end of the projects at the end of October. It gave us a chance to per critique each other projects. We presented on the work of ESCAPE and Mark demonstrated aspects of the ESCAPE Toolkit. Themes that we covered included:

  • the development of a set of ESCAPE Principles

  • mapping the current assessment landscape to these principles

  • considering efficiency verses effectiveness

  • what does transformative change look like

  • demonstration of some of the "themes in practice" videos

We talked about how the project has laid a foundation for staff engagement with a year long university wide assessment project that is running post ESCAPE.

The meeting was in the usual format of a two day timetable with meeting spread over lunchtime on the Thursday to lunchtime on the Friday. Helen Beetham joined us on Friday to facilitate a session on exploring what we have learnt as a cluster. We were looking to build upon the collaborative efforts of our joint cluster presentation at the University of Greenwich e- learning Conference. There were some interesting ideas for further collaboration including a collaboration with the University of Exeter (INTEGRATE Project) with a sharing of resources from our projects.

We agreed that beyond the final programme meting in October we would look to meet in 12 - 18 months to look at what impact our projects have had.