All 26 entries tagged Reflections

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December 04, 2023

QAA Membership Podcast

Have a look at the latest episode of the QAA Membership Podcast which discusses inclusivity for neurodivergent students.


November 29, 2023

L&T Chat Show podcasts

This podcast looks at new ideas for teaching and learning in HE. There are a series of interviews with a variety of individuals from different roles in HE talking about practical ideas for enhancing academic activities and student engagement.

https://open.spotify.com/show/7CyKtc20ewzgYTAMwwg5E4


October 16, 2023

Past reflections, future outlook

Past reflections, future outlook: Update from the Warwick Learning Circle on diverse and inclusive assessment practices

by Kerry Dobbins, Isabel Fischer, Sam Grierson and Leda Mirbahai

Warwick’s International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA) has many features - one of them is that members only remain active members for three years before becoming alumni. The imminent handover of the co-leadership of the open learning circle on diverse and inclusive assessment practices made us, outgoing and new co-leaders, reflect on past initiatives and future directions.

Let’s start with an exciting future - what is new?

As we continue to move forwards with this work, we will become the ‘Inclusive Assessment Learning Circle’. This name change recognises our intention to embed the work on diverse assessments into a broader outlook which sees assessment in HE as a vehicle to promote equity and social justice. The wellbeing of students and staff will feature strongly in our ongoing discussions.

In line with our focus, the learning circle will be inclusive of:

  1. Assessment strategies and methods that are diverse, authentic, applied and decolonised - this broad understanding and acknowledgement of relevant issues in teaching, learning and the designing of assessments reflects the current landscape in HE and indicates the interest of our members. We hope to support the university reimagining the assessment design narrative, taking a view from programme level through to single assessment and placing assessment at the heart of curriculum design.
  2. Our members - we want members to be and feel actively engaged and involved in the learning circle.
  3. Students’ experiences – the work of the learning circle will be firmly focused on working with students so that collectively we can work to understand and support students’ needs and their personal and professional ambitions through assessment.

As for ‘past reflections’: What are the existing features of the learning circle worth keeping? There are in particular four features that worked really well in the past:

  1. Since its inception membership has grown steadily for three reasons: The membership of this particular LC is open to WIHEA as well as non-WIHEA members from across Warwick and other institutions, also internationally. The open membership has enriched the discussions and enabled establishment of networks nationally and internationally. Secondly, creating sub-groups not just raised interest, it also offered leadership opportunities to more members. The most popular sub-group was AI in education which in turn was split into six further strands / interest groups: Artificial Intelligence in Education (warwick.ac.uk). Lastly, the topic of the learning circles (assessment in its broadest term) has significant implications not only for educators but also for our learners.
  2. Many of our invited keynote speakers at the start of the bi-monthly meetings and at our mini-conference on assessments, captured the essence of their talks in blogs. Most of the blogs were published within WJETT (see the end of this blog for some examples, others were in other outlets, such as SEDA and SCiLAB. Even if not captured in blogs, did the keynote speeches result in interesting discussions and network opportunities.
  3. Extensive student corporations, with students supported by two WIHEA grants. One of the student participants even drafted an academic article based on her learning about assessments during her membership.
  4. Hosting workshops enabled dissemination of our findings and new resources, including the outputs of our funded projects. It also provided a platform to encourage co-learning and sharing amongst participants and facilitators (including student facilitators). Overall we hosted three workshops with the details of the workshops available from our webpage.

Finally, this is blog 15 in our diverse assessment series, some of the more recent blogs can be found here (with further links to previous blogs shown within some of the blogs below):


July 31, 2023

"Don’t think they know it” – Neha Gupta

My reflections on being interviewed for Asst. Professor as an internal candidate

This blog discusses my personal reflections on the experience of interviewing for an Assistant Professor role which I recently applied for following a fixed term contract in a teaching capacity here at Warwick. I thought being an internal candidate would offer a unique advantage. I am well positioned and capable of showing my best side in an interview but despite my teaching accolades and accreditation which made me an eligible candidate for interview, I felt uncomfortable and partially disappointed with my performance. I know I could have done better. Therefore, I thought to pen this experience which might prepare fellow colleagues for any such future endeavours.

Pros: Being an internal candidate for the Assistant Professor interview at the University has its fair share of advantages. On the plus side, I was already familiar with the institution's culture, values, and expectations. This familiarity gave me a unique advantage to prepare myself for questions such as – 'Why would you like to work here?' To answer this, I leveraged my existing knowledge about school initiatives, academic programmes, teaching and research goals, and project synergies. This allowed me to seamlessly integrate my own knowledge and experience into the existing framework and to contribute to the institution's academic mission. Also, all the examples I shared in the interview, whether it was module feedback from students or course related statistics were already known by some of the faculty members present in the panel, and perhaps gave me the confidence to bring across the point I’m making in the interview.

Cons: Being an internal candidate also presents bigger challenges, which I never expected or rather got perplexed about when I faced them. One significant one is dealing with the confusion of knowing and not knowing the interview panel. I’ve given interviews in the past where the people sitting across the table are completely unknown to me thereby giving me an opportunity to showcase my greatest version, articulating skills and knowledge that I possess in the best possible way to win the job. In contrast, the interview panel I faced here had some people from senior faculty whom I was already working with for the last couple of years. Therefore, there was a tendency to resist sharing information which they might already know. I was repeatedly asking myself - am I doing too much in already telling them what some of them know? Simultaneously, my mind tells me that this interview should be treated in isolation to the positive performance I have evidenced through my work here in the University. I was constantly dealing with this confusion in my head during the interview process and as a result I didn’t share that I’m in possession of FHEA, or a WIHEA fellow, which are all very relevant points for the interview. These should have come across despite being present as information in my CV and application letter and I should have steered the answer to some of the academic questions in a manner that links my qualifications and accreditations to reveal that I’m a good fit for the job advertised.

I think, when it comes to interviews, it is important to approach the interview panel as unknown individuals, just like any other interview. Although it may be difficult, this mindset is crucial for one’s performance during the interviews. Since they are unaware of your capabilities, it is essential to have a prepared action plan to address any confusion that may arise in your mind during the interview. By doing so, you can excel in your performance regardless of whether the panel is familiar or unknown to you. Last, but not least it is also vital to be ready with the set of questions you can ask the panel (even though you are aware of the initiative your institution is taking). Perhaps, these could be related to the higher education sector as a whole and not just your own institution.


June 19, 2023

Assessments: Capturing Lived Experience and Shaping the Future

Reflection on Project Outputs by Molly Fowler

Molly Fowler photo

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.


May 15, 2023

Reflections on adaptive teaching – Asimina Georgakopoulou

My initial perception of “adaptive teaching” was that it was synonymous to differentiation—a term which is still used in teaching publications (DfE, 2021, T.S.5, p.11) and which the Times Educational Supplement used, to describe the practice of “putting the student first” (Amass, 2021). As the two terms are often used interchangeably, I began my practice unsure about which approach I was truly implementing. A broad understanding of both terms dictates that differentiation involves assigning certain needs to students while planning, assuming an objective can only be met a certain way. Adaptive teaching involves adjusting to address progress by providing scaffolding or challenge to support achievement of a unified objective in a flexible way (Deunk et al., 2018, p.31-54). After focused conversations with my placement colleagues, I was intrigued by the general consensus that the main difference between the two concepts in practice centres around the teacher’s understanding of “high expectations”.

I struggled with this concept originally, as my understanding lacked practical depth. During English writing objectives, I was expected to scribe for certain children after probing them to articulate themselves. I found this problematic, as it assumed that these children could express themselves orally and only struggled with writing. I understood that this was a genuine effort to avoid differentiating by task and communicating to the children that they were capable of completing the same task. In reality, the children were not expressing any ideas, and this resulted in them copying a board. Upon questioning them, I discovered that they still perceived their task as different, because they were not doing it independently.

Discussing this with my teacher, we ascertained that high expectations could be more effectively communicated by expecting all children to work independently and regularly changing support groups (CCF, 5.20). Although it seems like the same few pupils require constant small group support, I now realise that adaptive teaching is an approach meant to broaden our understanding of how to provide support. When the children were given a word mat that indicated meaning with symbols, they were able to start expressing their understanding independently, with little guidance. While other children did not have this support, all children were working independently and were given equal attention. I observed the positive psychological impact on students who felt that we were raising prior expectations.

As Coe et al. (2020, p.6) highlight, feelings of competence and autonomy are pivotal in promoting “learner motivation”. Additionally, they point out that “progressing…from structured to more independent learning” aids pupils to activate “hard thinking”. Adaptive teaching has the potential to lift children from the cycle of constantly requiring support to superficially meet an outcome that will not progress their understanding and will only lead to them requiring more support in future.

Although I do regret not taking initiative sooner, as I will not be able to observe long-term outcome improvement, my developed understanding of high expectations and adaptive teaching will have strong implications in my next placement, as I have grown my confidence and resourcefulness in supporting children appropriately. This is a point in my teaching where the WTV of creativity will greatly support development. By finding creative ways to scaffold learning, it is possible to communicate high expectations and creating a supportive learning environment.

References

Amass, H. (2021) “Differentiation: the dos and don’ts,” Tes Global Ltd, 16 April.

Coe, R. et al. (2020) Great teaching toolkit: Evidence Review, Great Teaching Toolkit. Cambridge Assessment International Education. Available at: https://assets.website-files.com/5ee28729f7b4a5fa99bef2b3/5ee9f507021911ae35ac6c4d_EBE_GTT_EVIDENCE%20REVIEW_DIGITAL.pdf?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.greatteaching.com%2F (Accessed: April 14, 2023).

DfE (2019) ITT Core Content Framework available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-itt-core-content-framework

Department for Education (2011) Teachers' Standards. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teachers-standards

Deunk, M., Smale-Jacobse, A., de Boer, H., Doolaard, S. and Bosker, R. (2018) 'Effective differentiation Practices:A systematic review and metaanalysis of studies on the cognitive effects of differentiation practices in primary education.' Educational Research Review (24) pp.31-54.


May 09, 2023

Reflections on planning – Phoebe Thompson

My understanding of the principles of effective planning has developed because at the start of my placement I was extremely naïve as didn’t think planning would be hard. I assumed I could write a few notes on the lesson plan and the pupils would have a deep understanding of the learning. I believed because my classroom teacher didn’t have formal plans that I could do the same. I found that effective planning is a difficult skill and for a lesson to have purpose it must have certain aspects. Ashcraft (2014) made clear that to be an effective teacher you must have effective lesson plans. For example, my first lesson plan lacked substance and I found myself getting stressed when teaching. The stress from a lack of detailed planning didn’t make me an effective teacher as I started to panic that the learning wasn’t clear. However, it has been argued that detailed daily lesson planning is a ‘box-ticking’ activity and adds to the teacher’s workload (Teacher Workload Review Group, 2016). Yet, I would argue that this is regarding experienced teachers.

My planning has been a journey. At the beginning of the placement, I put more emphasis on the activity than the learning. This became evident at the end of the lesson when I asked the class questions about the learning, and they couldn’t answer. I swiftly changed this and put more effort in making sure my lesson objective was clear to the class and that the activities reflected the lesson objectives.

I was very fortunate to have a supportive class teacher who encouraged me to take risks when teaching. Hattie (2012) argues that the most effective planning is when teachers support each other and discuss what is the most important to teach and the impact of their teaching on their pupils. In our shared PPA time the class teacher would suggest ways that I could adapt my teaching for all needs in the class. However, I am aware that this might not be the case at every placement. For example, Mutton et al (2011) mentions that it can be a struggle for student teachers to teach other teachers classes. Yet, in the future, I would like to work with my class teacher or mentor to plan low threshold, high ceiling planning so all needs are met.

Throughout my placement I struggled with my workload as mentioned previously I quickly understood the need to plan thought provoking lessons where all pupils learning flourished. I was encouraged to use the schemes that the school subscribed to and the class teacher’s previous resources. I found that the schemes were extremely helpful, but I had to use them as a guide because they were generic and I had to fit them to my class due to the different needs of the pupils. However, I did find some pressure to use the class teacher’s resources in certain lessons. In the future, I want to be confident enough to use my own creativity to make the resources and use the class teacher’s as a guide like I did with the scheme.

References

Ashcraft, N. (2014) Lesson Planning. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Hattie J (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning. Routledge, pages 67-74.

Mutton, T., Hagger, H. and Burn, K. (2011) “Learning to plan, planning to learn: The developing expertise of beginning teachers,” Teachers and Teaching, 17(4), pp. 399–416. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.580516.

Teacher Workload Review Group (2016) Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources Report of the Independent. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/511257/Eliminating-unnecessary-workload-around-planning-and-teaching-resources.pdf (Accessed: 20 December 2022).


April 24, 2023

Adaptive Teaching

by Robert Smith

During my five years of working in schools, I have seen national changes to the way in which teachers are expected to support pupils with additional needs. The geography department in my first school was praised for its extensive use of differentiated artefacts, such as simplified worksheets, and learning objectives: ‘all, most, some’. While some elements of this approach are certainly beneficial to the learning of those with additional needs, the national focus has shifted to one that applies high expectations to all groups (Department of Education, 2019). It is worth noting that while the Early Career Framework has stopped using the word ‘differentiation’ altogether (Department of Education, 2019), differentiated support to help all learners reach the same goal provides those who need support the help to achieve (Mould, 2021) and aligns with the new term ‘adaptive teaching’.

In my first placement of this course, two of the classes I taught were a top set year 8 and a bottom set year 7. I was surprised by the variation of ability in both classes. From my reading for my Subject Studies essay, I have recently learned about the detrimental effects of an internalised understanding of the class hierarchy, especially for those who recognise that they rank towards the bottom in comparison to their peers. I think the delivery of extension, or challenge, work is one area in which the teacher can reduce the conspicuousness of the hierarchy: ensuring extension work is clearly signposted for everyone may result in those moving onto the extension task being less noticeable and also intimates that everyone in the class is capable of reaching the extension task; I plan to incorporate this into my future teaching.

In order for all pupils to meet high expectations, it is necessary for those with needs to be given support in the most effective way. Considering work-load and effectiveness, Mould (2021) suggests teachers should provide focussed support rather than devoting time to creating myriad resources; during my first placement, I was introduced to many helpful resource websites that can prevent teachers reinventing the wheel. The focussed support Mould discusses is holistic, considering ‘pupils’ physical, social, and emotional well-being,’ including their relationships with peers, teachers and their families. Mould recommends regular communication between the individual, the school and the parents/guardians in order that everyone understands the barriers to learning and develop strategies to overcome them together. Alongside my mentor I spoke to parents at my first parents’ evening, and the benefits of building a relationship with parents was clear: the parents of one pupil, who is struggling with bullying, talked to us about their desire to have an open conversation with the school in order to support their child.

With the support of my mentor and expert colleagues, I believe I supported students well in my first placement, though this may be in part because I did not teach any classes with high levels of need. Moving forward, I would like to develop a practice of planning for adaptive teaching that supports all pupils without increasing the amount of time I spend on my lesson plans. As my understanding of the curriculum and the abilities of specific groups grows, I would like to better connect new knowledge to existing knowledge and recognise areas that require additional pre-teaching.

References:

Department of Education (2019) Early Career Framework (online). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/978358/Early-Career_Framework_April_2021.pdf [accessed 13.1.23].

Mould, K. (2021) EEF Blog: Assess, adjust, adapt – what does adaptive teaching mean to you? (online). Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/news/eef-blog-assess-adjustadapt-what-does-adaptive-teaching-mean-to-you/ [accessed 13.1.23].


April 17, 2023

Establishing Classroom Relationships

by Robert Smith

Developing a safe and predictable environment can have an enormous impact for both pupils generally and for a specific identified pupil. Bohn, Roehrig, and Pressley (2004) found that effective teachers introduce and maintain routines at the beginning of their relationship with each group. Doing so enables pupils to predict events throughout the lesson, helping them to feel safe. This feeling of security results in higher engagement and less problem behaviour. While this supports the behaviour and learning of all pupils, it can be particularly beneficial to individuals with higher needs; for example, though all pupils benefit when alerted of upcoming change, this predictability is especially supportive for individuals who are distressed by unexpected change (Kern and Clemens, 2007).

Similar to the early introduction of routines, the immediate establishment of rules impacts how safe a pupil feels in the classroom. Kern and Clemens (2007) advise that there be no more than five rules to aid memorisation, that each one be positively worded, and that they be displayed prominently in the classroom, to serve as both a reminder to pupils and as supporting artefacts for the teacher when reinforcing the rules. They suggest that engaging the students in the creation of the class rules is beneficial because it gives the pupils a sense of involvement, that the teacher cares about what they think, and it gives pupils choice; providing opportunities for choice is listed by Kern and Clemens (2007) as important at both class-wide and individual levels.

Kern and Clemens (2007) collated literature to consider the benefits of antecedent interventions and concluded that the implementation of such strategies can create a structured learning environment beneficial to most pupils. They divide antecedent strategies into two groups: class-wide and individual. They recommend that before class-wide strategies are considered school-wide ones need to be implemented, but these do not fall under the scope of their research. This improves the behaviour of pupils, which then makes responses to class-wide interventions more successful. Once class-wide strategies are implemented, teachers can implement individualised interventions to support pupils who have not adequately responded to general strategies. These individual interventions can only be successful if they are tailored to the needs of the specific pupil and environment, and so the teacher needs to have a solid understanding of what those needs are.

I am particularly interested in Kern and Clemens’ suggestion to involve students in rule making, creating as it does an element of accountability. I will incorporate this into my practice when I have the opportunity. Despite the mostly sequential nature of maths, I can also see plenty of opportunities for letting classes choose how to approach learning (visual scaffolding, bullet-pointed steps, etc.) as well as larger decisions, such as the order they learn non-sequential topics.

Typically, maths is taught using large amounts of repetitive questions that all practise the same new skill, yet this also increases the likelihood of problem behaviour (Kern and Clemens, 2007). I was interested to read about the benefits of incorporating simple, loosely related questions into the current work, and that pupils preferred this type of work despite there being more questions to answer (Kern and Clemens, 2007). These simpler questions could be used effectively as a form of retrieval practice, further benefiting the learning.

References:

Bohn, C.M., Roehrig, A.D., and Pressley, M. (2004) 'The first days of school in the classrooms of two more effective and four less effective primary-grades teachers.' Elementary School Journal, 104, pp. 269–287. https://doi.org/10.1086/499753

Kern, L. and Clemens, N.H. (2007) 'Antecedent strategies to promote appropriate classroom behaviour.' Psychol. Schs., 44, pp. 65-75. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20206


November 14, 2022

One year on: Progress update on our Diverse Assessments Learning Circle

Isabel Fischer (WBS) and Leda Mirbahai (WMS)

One year ago we created an open WIHEA Learning Circle on Diverse Assessments. Since we seem to be building a reputation as the ‘godparents of assessments’. In addition to contributing to diversifying assessment strategies across Warwick we aim to work towards providing equity in our assessment practices and to improve student experience. Assessments, if used effectively, are key to promoting learning for our students.

To encourage reflection and to drive change in how we use and view assessments in our programmes, we hosted a series of keynote speeches to start our regular meetings. Here one example from Kerry Dobbins, Academic Development Centre, on How to create an effective assessment strategy (drilling down – or up – from institutional, via course, to module level)

Assessment Strategy

My aim for this presentation was to highlight the conflation that often occurs between assessment ‘strategies’ and assessment ‘methods’. The term ‘strategy’ is often used when we are actually referring to the mode of assessment, e.g. ‘our assessment strategy is coursework or an online exam’. It is important to disentangle these terms so that we can take an explicitly strategic approach to designing assessments that supports inclusion at all levels, i.e., module, course/programme and institution. An assessment strategy develops a shared and holistic view of the course/programme between students and academics. At a macro level, there needs to be constructive alignment between module learning outcomes (LOs), course/programme LOs and graduate attributes. In this way, a programme level view is taken to what LOs are being assessed across modules and how. For diverse assessments this is extremely important because it ensures that a holistic view is taken in relation to how comfort with, skills for and literacy of different types of assessment methods are developed and scaffolded for students as the programme progresses. This strategic and holistic view also recognises the various transition points of the students’ journey; so first year assessments may start to introduce elements of doing things differently, that are built on in the second year, etc.

In essence then, a strategic approach is vital for inclusive assessment practices as it provides an explicit framework for developing assessment literacy skills and for assignment feedback to be clearly directed towards feeding forward into future assessment activities. Taking a strategic approach also provides greater opportunities for teams to develop a coherent view about the purposes and values of assessment; and how those shared values are threaded through the course or programme. Assessment is not value-free as we are always conveying value messages to students about what we assess and how. A programme strategy allows us to really consider our values and what we are trying to achieve with our assessment practices and processes overall.

Assessment strategy also occurs at the module level. Again, at this level the strategy is not the mode of assessment but how support to achieve within the assessment is structured into the module. For example, how is assessment and feedback literacy designed into the module curriculum? What does the pre and post-assessment support look like? What is the rationale for the mode of assessment being used? How is assessment (formative and summative) being used within the module to support learning, not just quantify it?

You might find the attached presentation and some of the texts below useful to review:

Boud and Associates (2010) Assessment 2020: Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education

Brunton et al (2016) Designing and developing a programme-focused assessment strategy: a case study

Scholtz (2016) (PDF) The assessment strategy: An elusive curriculum structure (researchgate.net)

If you are interested in this area, I would welcome you to get in touch: Kerry.Dobbins@warwick.ac.uk

For our learning circle we have also managed to secure funding to undertake a research project to capture both student and staff views of diverse assessments. Although the project is still ongoing, our student project officers, Molly Fowler and Pula Prakash, have managed to gather valuable data with an aim to feed into institutional considerations around assessment strategies.

Finally, if you want to find out more about our Learning Circle you can visit our webpage and you can read our previous blogs here:

Blog 1: Launch of the learning circle: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/interested_in_diverse/

Blog 2: Creative projects and the ‘state of play’ in diverse assessments: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/creative_projects_and/

Blog 3: Student experience of assessments: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/wjett/entry/a_student_perspective/

If you would like to join this 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).


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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
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