PCAPP Assessment Practice and Strategies workshop, June 24th; post–workshop reflection
Follow-up to PCAPP workshop, Curriculum and Course Design, June 24th 2010 from Alison's blog
There are various things to comment on about this workshop. I shall start with the participants' feedback.
- The most useful aspect that was almost unanimously identified was the discussion with peers throughout the session but particularly in the last part which made use of the clickers in a whole-group setting.
- The clickers were generally liked, although one participant felt the activity had gone on too long and that more specific input about how to use them for increased interaction would have been useful.
- The opening activity where participants circulated and initialed the sheets with a variety of assessment methods on was liked, but a number of people felt it should have been built on and developed.
- The Deliberations website was appreciated and a number said they would refer to it again after the workshop.
- The areas not covered in the workshop which they would like to have been addressed were:
- More practical examples, and discussion of how to use the more unusual examples
- How to design questions for exams and essays
- Which assessment methods are appropriate for assessing what kind of knowledge
- More practical ideas of how to improve assessment
- Too much articulated consideration of the teaching method I had adopted (which also overlapped with the morning Exploring Course Design session)
It was also clear that the workshop had not met the needs of one participant who stated that he/she had found 'nothing' ('nil') the most useful, and that the session had 'not been his/her expectation at all, sorry'. Oh dear... But how disappointing not to get any constructive feedback to accompany this observation.
I was specifically interested and appreciative to receive feedback about the Deliberations exercise since that had been my experiment that I was unsure about. My own experience of it had been mixed as I moved between the groups. (Interestingly, everyone chose to work in a group and no one opted for an individual laptop.) I think I had done well to design a series of questions to direct and give a purpose to the reading but the questions also seemed to be a bit of a hindrance. There were probably too many (something confirmed in a conversation with a participant at the end) so on a future occasion I need to cut them down to two or three. Some groups seemed to feel pressured to find the answers in the time allowed (whoops, inadvertently, I slipped into the 'surface learning' format), and some seemed to think it was very important to obey the task to the letter, looking for the answer to each question, when I think I had anticipated that they would use them as guides and prompts, skipping any they weren't particularly interested in and/or couldn't find the answer to quickly enough. So if I adopt this approach again I need to think about all these dimensions. Some of it can be easily addressed by clearer instructions at the beginning, of course.
I have done the individual assessment sheets that opened the session before, and have never really engaged with the participants' felt need to follow it up. I have received this feedback before. I must now give it some concrete thought. I wonder what would be most appropriate. Options include:
- Asking the individuals who were the only ones to use a particular type to talk about it (if I do this activity early, might they feel intimidated?)
- Link the activity to ways of evaluating assessment and to constructive alignment, finding some way of equipping people to do this for themselves (an important and relevant skill for their own practice, in fact)
- What else??? I will go on thinking...
Lastly, I wonder if I do try to articulate my own thinking about the session structure and pedagogy too much. Maybe I overdid it, especially for those who had attended the morning workshop. However, I think it is important, especially in a PCAPP context, for participants to engage not only with the focus of the specific content, but also the 'how' of the workshop. After all, that's what we're asking them to do in their own practice, and I want to explore how that might be modelled, especially for those for whom it doesn't come naturally. More to think about.
The clickers seemed to work well, and I liked the opportunity to refresh my own use of them. I think I need to work at thinking how they can be made to work harder in my workshops.