Tag Archives: portfolios

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.

239 – Progress Files for Personal and Professional Development Planning – Jeff Waldock

Personal and Professional Development Planning (PPDP) is a mechanism for students to improve their levels of achievement and engagement by regularly recording and reflecting on progress.  This process will help you to• recognise and value your strengths and achievements.  In summary reviews students are often surprised and pleased when they realise just how far they have come.  This recognition is important as students need to be able to articulate their skills at interviews• identify problems and develop action plans to address them If you don’t address problems effectively, you are missing out on a great chance to improve your levels of achievement• organise your work, and plan your time effectively For these reasons, it is a key element of the University’s employability strategy, however there are many barriers to successful implementation, principally:• Students will often not see it as relevant to their subject• Staff do not have the time to invest in developing a mechanism for PPDP or in it’s implementation In Mathematics, an e-Progress file system has been in use for over 10 years.  In recent years other areas have taken it up, and it now provides PPDP to some 800 students in ACES. The main advantages are that it is private to students but public to staff; staff can easily get overviews of all progress file entries made for their module, or for the course, or show all entries for an individual.  Staff can easily respond to comments; it helps get to know students well and is an important element in forming a supportive staff-student learning community. An example student comment from this year’s evaluation are: “When you think about the deadlines more, you are able to assess your workload better, and plan ahead which is excellent for time management”

Click to view poster: 239 SHU_LTA_2013_Waldock_Progress_Files