Tag Archives: assessment

Ready, Steady, Learn!

Dr David Smith & Dr Graham Holden
@dave_thesmith / @GrahamJHolden

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.1

This workshop builds on a session devised and developed by Graham, and Professor Ranald Macdonald which then ran with academic staff at the University of Manchester.

Short Abstract
Come teach with us, share your practice and add a little bit of flavour to your teaching. Participants will be asked to design or redesign a teaching session. We’ll award points to all the sessions and feedback to develop further ideas and implementation. At the end of the workshop the session with the most points wins a tasty teaching prize.

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Detailed Outline
We believe that good learning experiences are challenging, risky, unpredictable, experimental, and are, above all, fun! These experiences occur individually as well as in groups, and everyone brings different knowledge, skills and experiences to the table.
In this workshop we will explore the metaphor of cooking in teaching and learning (hence the title) as this incorporate features that make learning more engaging. Learning, like food, can become dull and bland and the addition of an extra ingredient or combining ingredients in a different way can transform the experience. These changes don’t have to mean a complete redesign of the learning experience but can be about adding an extra dimension at the right time. Like any good meal it is the combination of a well-planned menu, good quality ingredients and the skill of the cook that makes the difference.

This session will explore the key elements of active learning and quality design of the learning experience; we will share ideas and techniques that promote engagement. We will do this be drawing on principles for active learning, our own experiences and examples from the University’s Inspirational Teachers. The best experiences, though, are those of the participants, so we ask you to come prepared to explore your own practices and to share your reflections with others. By the end of the session we will have a collection of recipes for engaged student learning and the beginnings of what we hope will be an active learning cookbook.

3.7 Transcending Modularity through Flexible Formative Feedback

3.7 Hallam L&T Conference Session 3-7 – Oli Johnson

What is the role of feedback in promoting learning across modules and how can feedback be embedded more effectively into the student journey? The HEA-funded Flexible Formative Feedback Project is led by a team of Student Ambassadors for Learning and Teaching (SALT)—a nationally-recognised student-staff partnership scheme in which teams of students design and lead on learning and teaching enhancement activities. Working in collaboration with students and staff in a cross-section of ten departments, the project team are constructing a feedback profile of existing practice and mapping student experiences onto the feedback environments of their disciplinary areas. Data will be used to identify case studies of best practice and to inform the development of discipline-specific tools for the provision, collation and use of feedback that is both flexible—i.e. adaptable to disciplinary and individual student needs—and formative—i.e. action-oriented and developmental.

As a longitudinal study, the project will revisit students over the course of the academic year to find out the extent to which their expectations have been met by the feedback process. Although data collection is ongoing, our initial consultation has identified a ‘feedback gap’ between student expectations and experiences, the fault lines of which appear early at level one. This paper, which will be presented by a staff-student team, will share the initial findings of the project and explore strategies to narrow this gap including the development of study skills training packages and feedback collation tools. It will consider the underdeveloped role of feedback as a synoptic learning tool with the potential to transcend the modular nature of assessment as part of a broader transition to self-regulated learning. It will conclude with a reflection on the implications of this process for the future-proofing of feedback in the context of rapid technological development and the changing university environment.

Flexibility in assessment – should students choose? (2014)

Ciara O’Hagan, Molly Hashmi-Greenwood, Jo Long & Michelle Newberry

Assessment for and of learning is an integral part of higher education; appropriate assessment practices contribute to learning as well as measuring achievement (Boud, 2000). In many cases, the assessment diet of a taught course now includes assessment through a range of different methods, designed to promote development of different skills, match subject-specific requirements, and address the need for inclusivity in education.

It has been suggested that universities should develop a ‘flexible’ approach, whereby students have some choice in the method, format, or timing of their assessments. This may promote engagement by a) giving learners an element of control over their learning experience (Irwin and Hepplestone, 2012), b) contribute to developing autonomous, self-directed learners (Tusting and Barton, 2003), and c) address the need for inclusivity in line with the agenda for widening participation in higher education (Craddock and Mathias, 2009). However, it has been suggested that it may be difficult to ensure parity in setting and marking different assessment tasks (Knight, 2002). There are also issues with potentially allowing students to focus only on their strengths, and avoid developing their weaknesses (Hall, 1982). Also, offering choice may actually create anxiety for some students (O’Neill, 2012).

In this pilot study, we explore the experiences of undergraduate students enrolled in three modules in which there is some choice in the method of assessment of their learning. We consider the students’ reasons for choosing particular methods, their feelings about being given choice, and how/if these factors relate to levels of achievement in the assessment task.

296 – Course-Centred Assessment – Andrew Middleton, Christine O’Leary, Graham Holden, Serena Bufton, Mike Bramhall, Alison Purvis

This session aims to inspire, inform and challenge participants towards finding holistic approaches to course-centred assessment. With reference to good practice assessment principles (e.g. Nicol & McFarlane-Dick, 2006), this panel session will provide examples of course-centred assessment strategies and models designed to engage and empower the learner through their course (Nicol, 2009). A course-centered approach to assessment lends itself to the development of student self-regulation, to authentic assessment practices and supports a more dialogic approach (Freeman & Dobbins, 2013). It can encourage a shift away from fragmented learning experiences, which can be an inadvertent result of module-centred assessment tasks (Gibbs, 2012; Price et al. 2011). The examples discussed will demonstrate how assessment and feedback can help students to make formative connections across and through their course. A series of short presentations will be given exploring what a course-centred approach means for assessment practice, how it can enable integrated and authentic approaches to assessment, and the benefits it presents to the student experience. Session activities for engagement: In the second half of the workshop participants will be involved in small group activities aimed at developing and sharing key ideas on the various integrated course assessment strategies.

Click to visit presentations:  296 LTA Conf -AssessmentPatterns-Course View Blanks

296 Integrated assessment

296 LTA Conf -AssessmentPatterns-Course View Example

255 – Understanding and tackling the barriers to adopting Portfolio-based dissertations at level 7 – Paul Crowther, Peter Lake

The computing department at Sheffield Hallam have been successfully trialling MSc dissertation by portfolio for over a year now (Crowther and Hill, 2011). The trials have been seen by all the participatory students as a success. Nonetheless a number of issues remain, not least of which is the relatively low numbers of students who select portfolio over traditional approaches. Whilst we there are some obvious hurdles which we can do something about, such as supervisors feeling unprepared for the change of approach, some hurdles are harder to recognise or understand.  From the supervisor’s perspective, some of these issues may well be to do with long standing pedagogic beliefs about what a dissertation should be. From the students perspective there may be cultural differences in the acceptance of what a dissertation should be. The courses involved in this proposal recruit >80% of students from overseas. Another reason may be that in attempting to be scrupulously fair to all students the marking scheme used is identical to those traditionally used. There is some concern that this may be helping to confuse both students and potential supervisors in that it does not allow the portfolio to have its own identity as a valid method. We need to identify, understand and then address these hurdles since the evidence so far points to the portfolio approach being a useful addition to the assessment toolkit. The focus for this project will be the identification and understanding of these hurdles.

251 – Peer-Support, Peer-Feedback and Self-Reflection in Assessment – Alison Purvis

Strand: Technology Enhanced Course

Anticipated outcomes: An approach to online peer-supported assessment will be presented and the value of peer-support and peer-feedback will be discussed.

Session outline (or abstract): Assessment is often the driving force for learning and student engagement (Taras 2002).  The alignment of learning activities to assessment outcomes can increase the perceived value of those activities. A level 6 blended learning module (Applied Physiology of Sport Performance, Department of Sport, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing), was developed from a “little-and-often” assessment model to a 2-task model in response to changes in assessment regulations and policies.  The regulatory changes allowed the module teaching team an opportunity to review of the learning, teaching and assessment strategy in the module and as a result significant changes were made to both delivery and methods of assessment. The place of the module within the course and the connections between students as members of a course were also considerations of the module redesign. One of the two assessment tasks was specifically designed to encourage both face-to-face and virtual connections between student course-mates.  A combination of face-to-face groups and online peer-support and feedback groups were implemented as mechanisms to engage the cohort of 74 students with assessment and to increase student collaboration and communication (Boud, Cohen and Sampson 1999).  Following the peer-support and feedback, students engaged in a reflection of their experience which was included within their assessment submission.  Towards the end of the module delivery, students were also asked for their feedback on the peer-support activity (38 responses).  The staff and student experience of the changes in learning, teaching and assessment in the module will be presented.

BOUD, David, COHEN, Ruth and SAMPSON, Jane (1999). Peer learning and assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24 (4), 413-416.

TARAS, Maddalena (2002). Using Assessment for Learning and Learning from Assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 27 (6), 501-510.

Session activities for engagement: Opportunities for discussion will be encouraged during and following the presentation.

Click to view presentation:  251 Peer-Support & Self-reflection in Assessment

247 – Open Badges: Supporting Learning and Employability by Recognising Skills Development – Ian Glover

Open Badges were developed in 2010 by the Mozilla Foundation, with support from Peer2Peer University and the MacArthur Foundation. They are designed to be a method of validating and certifying knowledge and experience in a less formal manner than degree certificates and grade transcripts, and have been identified as having a high potential impact on education, likely to be felt within the next 2-5 years (Open University, 2012, p. 16-18). Additionally, they have the potential to be a motivational tool to encourage students to take control of their studies and help emphasise the need for extra-curricular experience and achievement. In this way, Open Badges can support employability strategies by providing students with clear targets that are relevant to industry.

Open Badges support linking to evidence to justify their award, meaning that they can aid students in developing portfolios of work and, by making the badges publically viewable, provide evidence of their work to prospective employers. Another major benefit of Open Badges is that they help expose the skills and competencies students have acquired through their studies. Students often overlook this aspect of Higher Education because the focus is on grades, yet it is the underlying skills that are often most valued by employers (McDowell, 2013).

This paper discusses the implications of Open Badge adoption on Higher Education, highlight examples of their use, and stimulate consideration of the potential of this recent innovation. Several existing online systems are available, and these are discussed along with some suggestions on possible uses for Open Badges.


McDowell, L. M. (2013). Skills and Labour market change. White Paper. http://www.nelep.co.uk/media/2624/linda-mcdowell-skills.pdf [accessed 04 May 2013].

Open University. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012. White Paper. http://www.open.ac.uk/personalpages/mike.sharples/Reports/Innovating_Pedagogy_report_July_2012.pdf

[accessed 04 May 2013].

Click to view presentation:  247 Open Badges – SHULT13

246 – Making Connections: Using technology to improve student engagement with feedback – Stuart Hepplestone, Helen Parkin

Making Connections: Using technology to improve student engagement with feedback

This paper will present the findings of a research study at SHU to identify technological interventions that might help students make connections between the feedback that they receive and their future learning. Using a qualitative approach, the study worked with ten tutors and twenty students. This was made up of four Level 5 cohorts (one from each faculty) including one module tutor and between three and six students, and an additional six tutors who taught on unrelated modules. The findings of the project cover each aspect of the assessment process from both the staff and student perspective including submission, giving and receiving feedback, storage and future use of feedback. In summary:

the process of submitting assignments should be easy and convenient, from anywhere and at anytime

any tool should embrace the current variety of feedback practice, yet achieve consistency in publishing feedback alongside the rest of the students’ learning materials

students store all their feedback in one place; there is a preference for hard copy because of circumstance, i.e. it is easier to print an electronic copy than to covert hard copy to an electronic format

students were more likely to look at and use feedback at the point of their next assignment if it is online

In light of these findings, a range of technological developments that might help students establish or better make connections between the feedback that they receive and future learning, including:

An end-to-end online marking experience that facilitates ease and efficiency of marking online.

An online assessment and feedback that enables students to store all feedback from all modules in one place alongside an assessment calendar, advice on how to use feedback effectively, space for action planning and dialogue around their feedback.

Please click to view presentation:  246 LT conf 2013 – making connections

235 – Empowering students to develop their employability by applying their course learning in a module – Anne Nortcliffe, Jacky Stallard, Matthew Love, Students

Bad experiences of assessment in the form of tests and exams can turn them away from learning (Berry, 2008). Engagement and attainment increases when students know that assessment will promote their learning (Black et al., 2003; Pat-El et al., 2013). Assessment for learning engages and empowers students because they can see their learning develop (Stiggins, 2002). Project-based learning results in assessment which is learner-centered due to its experiential approach and its capacity to scaffold students as they develop their professional skills (McLoughlin and Luca, 2002); an example of this being project management skills . Applied as group assessment to solve authentic challenging problems, Project-Based Learning requires students to adopt processes for identifying and analysing important activities, and then planning and pursuing these activities (Solomon, 2002). Complex problems encourage collaborative learning techniques amongst students as they identify, analyse and organise their solutions (Barkley et al., 2005). This workshop will provide a hands-on opportunity for module and course leaders, and students to correlate course/module learning outcomes with graduate employability skills and will involve the design of an authentic Project-Based Learning assessment framework used to assist students in collaboratively developing their professional skills. The workshop also provides an opportunity to hear from module tutors, a course leader and students on how such approach has empowered students to draw together course learning by providing realistic solutions for the project management of a development of sustainable technology for attendance monitoring.

235 workshop LTA PMCD v2

307 – Experiences of formative and summative assessment in FE – Alice Bailey

This short paper will share interim outcomes of a research project at Sheffield College on the current forms and impact of engagement by learners with feedback from tutors. Colleagues will be able to develop their understanding of the student experience at Level 3 in a Business and Professional Studies environment, as well as considering implications for supporting successful transitions into Level 4 at SHU and beyond. The project broadly considered the use of formative and summative feedback as a teaching method to improve student attainment at HE. The current situation is that study skills are taught in an ‘ad hoc’ way by tutors but that these have been shown to be successful in enhancing student engagement. For example, incidents of in-module retrieval was reduced significantly year- on-year in one module. There is little overall focus, however, on students understanding what is required of them in assessment and when reflecting on tutor feedback. For most tutors, engaging students in feedback is not the focus of their energies.  The hypothesis of the project was that students who internalise academic standards perform better than those who don’t. One anticipated outcome was a reduction in the incidences of ‘in-module retrieval’ and to generally increase grades; another was to support staff in bridging the divide between L3 and L4, giving ‘weaker’ students (typically the ones who fail to achieve 40% from their first attempt) the skills and knowledge to be able to cross that threshold. Many students who opt to complete a foundation degree at Hillsborough College do so because it is a route to university (SHU) for those with only 120 UCAS points. We have to work hard to help students move from working at a low-level L3 to L4 (and, eventually L5 and L6) as many students find this transition difficult.

307 SHU L&T Conference June 2013