Assessments: Capturing Lived Experience and Shaping the Future
Reflection on Project Outputs by Molly Fowler
This WIHEA funded co-creation project aimed to capture and explore student and staff perspectives on diverse assessment. Neither group were clearly able to define a diverse assessment strategy, but interestingly their feelings about assessment and ideas of how they can be improved were very similar. Students expressed a desire for greater choice, flexibility and equitable access to assessments. Equitable access encompasses a wide range of complex personal needs including language requirements, disability, neurodiversity, caring responsibilities, and the need to work alongside studies. Staff iterated many of the same concepts but framed their ideas around pedagogical models. There was a strong emphasis on learning from assessments on both sides and a widespread longing for a culture shift to design assessments that model a fair and fulfilling education. Student co-creation was seen as a necessary tool to expedite the shift towards embedding assessments as part of the learning journey.
I am a final year student on the Health and Medical Sciences BSc programme. My role as a student cocreator in this research project was to collect and analyse data from students and staff pertaining to their beliefs around assessment. In the analysis stage of the project, I mainly focused on collating and summarising the student data. I am new to conducting primary research and I have thoroughly appreciated this experience. I enjoyed the challenge of leading interviews and focus groups and deciding when to explore a statement further or manoeuvre back to the set questions. Gaining first-hand insight into the research process has augmented my ability to understand and extract key information from research papers which will be a life-long skill – and was particularly useful when I was conducting a systematic review for my dissertation. It has been very satisfying to observe my own personal development in this way.
This project has made me aware of my privilege in assessments as a neurotypical English speaker. I have been exposed to a range of different perspectives on assessment and I hope to be better equipped to identify problems and support those around me. For example, I was surprised to learn that international students feel more disadvantaged by multiple choice exams than essays, as MCQs often require a nuanced understanding of language and grammar. Similarly, I have always taken a pragmatic approach to assessments and centred my learning around them. I had not previously considered assessments as part of the learning journey or as a learning exercise. As I move into the next phase of my own education, I will try to extend my learning beyond assessments to gain knowledge that I can use in my profession. Undertaking this project has been an enriching experience as a student and as an individual. It has shaped my approach to my assessments, and I have become more aware of the complex needs of others who are completing the same assessment. Students and staff are calling for the same changes to assessment methodology, which can only be implemented if the University takes a holistic approach to restructuring assessments with students contributing to the process.
I look forward to bringing my knowledge from this assignment into my next research project. This is the 13th blog in our diverse assessment series. Previous blogs can be found here:
Blog 1: Launch of the learning circle (Isabel Fischer & Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/interested_in_diverse/
Blog 2: Creative projects and the ‘state of play’ in diverse assessments (Lewis Beer): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/creative_projects_and/
Blog 3: Student experience of assessments (Molly Fowler): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/a_student_perspective/
Blog 4: Assessment Strategy – one year after starting the learning circle (Isabel Fischer & Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/one_year_on/
Blog 5: Learnings and suggestions based on implementing diverse assessments in the foundation year at Warwick (Lucy Ryland): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/learnings_suggestions_based/
Blog 6: How inclusive is your assessment strategy? (Leda Mirbahai): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/blog_6_how/
Blog 7: Democratising the feedback process (Linda Enow): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/democratising_the_feedback/
Blog 8: AI for Good: Evaluating and Shaping Opportunities of AI in Education (Isabel Fischer, Leda Mirbahai & David Buxton): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/ai_for_good/
Blog 9: On ‘Opportunities of AI in Higher Education’ by DALL.E and ChatGPT (Isabel Fischer): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/on_opportunities_of/
Blog 10: Pedagogic paradigm 4.0: bringing students, educators and AI together (Isabel Fischer): https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/pedagogic-paradigm-40-bringing-students-educators-and-ai-together
Blog 11: Ethically deploying AI in education: An update from the University of Warwick’s open community of practice (Isabel Fischer, Leda Mirbahai, Lewis Beer, David Buxton, Sam Grierson, Lee Griffin, and Neha Gupta): https://www.open.ac.uk/scholarship-and-innovation/scilab/ethically-deploying-ai-education
Blog 12: Building knowledge on the pedagogy of using generative AI in the classroom and in assessments (Isabel Fischer and Matt Lucas): https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/building_knowledge_on/
Join the Diverse Assessment Learning Circle: If you would like to join the learning circle please contact the co-leads: Leda Mirbahai, Warwick Medical School (WMS) (Leda.Mirbahai@warwick.ac.uk) and Isabel Fischer, Warwick Business School (WBS) (Isabel.Fischer@wbs.ac.uk). This LC is open to non-WIHEA members.