HEA Transforming Assessment in Higher Education Symposia Series – call for contributions

The Higher Education Academy’s Transforming Assessment in Higher Education symposia series aims to bring together cutting edge examples of effective efforts of sustainable and manageable change around assessment and feedback. A call is open for case studies outlining discipline-specific innovations and wider institutional initiatives themed around:

  • Assessment literacy (to be held in York on 8 March 2017)
  • Technology-enabled/electronically managed assessment (to be held in York on 12 April 2017)
  • Enhancing student engagement through assessment (to be held in York on 24 May 2017)

This flyer provides full details of the symposia and how to submit a case study against each of the themes, as well as further publication opportunities for those case studies selected for the symposia.


We’re into the final year of the programme – what has been delivered to date?

As we enter the final year of the programme, it feels an appropriate time to reflect on progress, so here is a round-up of what has been delivered to date:

Informing, preparing and supporting staff:

  • Development, launch and continued promotion of an online resource, Assessment Essentials, to assist staff with the effective design and delivery of assessment for their students
  • Creation of a series of detailed academic case studies to highlight the use of different assessment practices and technologies and share best practice
  • Enhancement of existing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) guidance and the creation of over 80 new multi-media resources relating to assessment and feedback
  • Identification of staff equipment requirements and changes to the University’s Equipment Policy agreed and published. Implementation processes defined and communicated to all academic staff
  • Design and delivery of a training programme in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams, encompassing group sessions, drop-ins and bespoke 1-2-1s
  • Development and delivery of a health and safety action plan
  • University-wide staff engagement and communications to inform, prepare and support staff – range of digital communications, university / faculty events, standing meeting updates, working groups and workshops
  • Training and support for all helpdesk teams

Informing, preparing and supporting students:

  • Development and launch of an online resource, Assessment4students, to provide students with guidance and support around assessment
  • Design and delivery of a student communication strategy at the start of 2016/17 to inform students of the change, clarify expectations and provide support through guidance, resources and helpdesks

Governance & process:

  • Definition and implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment for 2016/17
  • Definition and communication of the operating models for the management of submission and associated processes in conjunction with faculties
  • Development and communication of a business continuity model in the event of system failure
  • Process improvement work considering seven academic and administrative processes

Technical development:

  • Identification of the detailed technical requirements of the business and engagement with suppliers on development, costs and timeframes
  • Deployment of:
    – a quick enrol functionality to support administrative staff with access to Blackboard module sites
    – an online receipting capability for students submitting  coursework electronically to Blackboard
    – a new tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for assignments submitted online
  • Development and introduction of a print to mark capability to allow for marking of physical copies of electronically submitted assignments, prior to staff providing electronic feedback online
  • Analysis and initial development work around moving data from Assessment Scheduler to SITS
  • Analysis and options development for  the integration of Blackboard and SITS
  • Pilots and evaluation of the Safe Assign originality checking tool
  • Development and deployment of a new task clustering (bunching) report

We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and valuable contribution.

External event report: Fifth International Assessment in Higher Education Conference

Stuart Hepplestone, Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), shares feedback on a recent conference on Assessment in Higher Education: 

In June, Helen Parkin, Senior Lecturer in Research and Evaluation, and I attended the Fifth International Assessment in Higher Education Conference to present research findings around connections that students make between feedback and their future learning.  It was a useful opportunity to network with the wider HE sector around assessment and feedback initiatives and share the ongoing work of the Assessment Journey Programme. 200 delegates attended from 17 countries.  There are two key areas of discussion that I thought would be useful to share with SHU colleagues.

Increasing student engagement with and learning from feedback, or satisfying student demand?
Papers and posters reported on the interventions that both individuals and institutions are trialling and implementing to enhance the assessment and feedback experience for staff and students. There was an ‘err on the side of caution’ among delegates as to whether these initiatives are increasing student engagement with, and learning from, feedback.  Or, are they simply satisfying student demands for quicker and more detailed forms of feedback. There was also a change of focus in research from looking at specific feedback or interventions, to investigating individual student attitudes and behaviours as a factor influencing their engagement with feedback.

What do other institutions make of e-marking, and what do students think of screencast feedback?
I have written a report sharing information from the sessions I attended during the conference. There are a couple of sessions that might be of particular interest. A colleague from the University of Nottingham reported on an investigation at a previous institution around the staff perspective of e-marking. The focus was on the transformative approach of the marker, and provided a recommended transformational model to the adoption of e-marking. A colleague from Manchester Metropolitan University reported on a comparison of screencast and written feedback to establish undergraduate student preferences. Over 75 per cent of students indicated a strong preference for screencast feedback, feeling it provided more detailed and helpful feedback as opposed to written feedback. However, there was a question over their engagement as they didn’t want to spend the length of the recording (20 mins) watching and listening to the feedback.