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February 12, 2024
November 28, 2022
In this short THE Campus piece, Warwick’s own Elena Riva shares some helpful practices that can boost student well-being in the online teaching and learning environment:
October 31, 2022
Over the last two years I have completed 21 assessments of approximately 10 different types - I am a seasoned consumer of assessments. Truly diverse assessment should use a range of valid assessment types that stimulate learning and provide opportunities for learners with varied needs and capabilities.
Assessments where I have synthesised information mined without time pressure, have resulted in the deepest learning. I overcame an irrational fear of epigenetics by writing an essay on the topic. I have been wondering whether real time information acquisition and synthesis could form an equally valuable assessment modality. My recent work experience showed me the readiness of healthcare professionals at all levels to access and deploy ambulatory online information in real time on the ward and in the clinic. As far as I can see, assessment methodologies have yet to catch up with this new reality.
It is perhaps a truism to say that assessments should be a learning methodology. Assessment can be a stimulus to learn content but can also model useful skills and behaviours. I have found that assessments with low ecological validity are less enriching, and regrettably invite purely strategic learning. The best example I have is my French GCSE in which I achieved an A grade without being able to speak a word of the language. The nature of the assessment meant that I did not need to engage with the content or the objectives of the course. I was able to prevail by memorising and regurgitating chunks of text which I promptly forgot after the exam.
Of my recent exams, the methodology that strikes me as most at fault in this respect is the MCQ. This is a highly artificial assessment construct, relying crucially on recall of memorised information, in a specific and stressful environment. I accept that there may be other skills involved such as prioritising options, but this is barely possible without the memorising and recall.
Group assessments might seem to reflect real world behaviour, but I have not always found this to be the case. With no agreed hierarchy it is very difficult to distribute responsibility or manage group members who are either overly assertive or who fail to contribute. This is particularly tricky when all those involved are required to be equal contributors with equal status. Surely this is an unusual circumstance in any working environment. The contrived dynamics of group assessments can introduce an uncontrolled variable that impacts the results of even very good students.
I feel it is of critical importance that students have the opportunity to thoroughly rehearse assessment methodologies that they will face in the high-stakes final year. For example, having done two poster presentations, previously unfamiliar to me, I feel less daunted by the prospect of doing it again for my dissertation module. I now appreciate that this is a common way of disseminating information at scientific conferences so it may be an important skill for me to have in my career.
Personal lives are complex and we are all subject to sudden or dramatic change in our circumstances. Assessments by essays can more easily accommodate and mitigate unforeseen events through flexibility, but fixed assessments such as exams or in-person presentations are much more difficult to rearrange. An advantage of continuous assessment over end-of-year assessments is the feasibility of allowances for such happenings as fewer assessments would be affected. It is also true that students with a reported disability tend to do less well than students with no reported disability (Office for Students, 2022). This raises important questions around equity, and whether the available reasonable adjustments are good enough.
Properly diverse assessment could serve many purposes. Within the mix of assessments should be opportunities for different students to demonstrate their individual proficiency at their preferred method. Diverse assessment should be inclusive of students with reasonable adjustments, but they should also allow for unpredictable adverse events. Finally, where possible, assessments should engender learning and embody activities that will be useful in later life.
Office for Students (2022) Access and Participation Data Dashboard [online] Available from: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/access-and-participation-data-dashboard/ (Accessed 8 October 2022).
Molly is member of the Diverse Assessment Learning Circle. If you would like to join the LC 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)
August 06, 2018
During my complementary placement, I planned and delivered the first unit of the new Design and Technology GCSE which focuses on New and Emerging Technologies. This provided me with an opportunity to develop a new Scheme of Learning (SOL) with an entirely paperless agenda and digital delivery.
The teacher resources were produced in PowerPoint in which a variety of additional tools were imbedded such as YouTube videos and links to external applications Kahoot, Padlet, Google Classroom Slides and Surveyhero.
A flipped classroom was created by releasing resources to students in advance of each lesson from which they developed their own digital workbook in PowerPoint which was submitted periodically by email or via the cloud for marking and feedback. From these, I was able to develop a digital archive of student work and monitor progress. Individual feedback was given by email in response to each submission and group feedback, to highlight common areas of success and misconception, was given at the start of the following lesson. The SAMR model (Puentedura, 2014) was used to structure the transformation and enhancement of this SOL through ICT.
Kahoot quiz results provided insight into areas of weakness that needed addressing and this informed my short-term planning with the start of the following lesson allocated to this due to 45-minute lessons.
Padlet and Google Classroom Slides enabled collaborative working however the novelty of these provided an opportunity for misbehaving. The software has the option for teachers to verify all comments before they go live but this can disrupt the flow of student contributions. Kirkman (2017) refers to dialogic practice as ‘that in which students are active, engaged and empowered participants in a conversation from which learning emerges’ which was evident through the immediate feedback from the class enabled by not using this facility. This outweighed the behaviour issues but with other classes I would consider putting this control in place to monitor the content and pace of the lesson and to encourage students to consider their contributions more carefully.
Student engagement was high throughout this unit and even with the issues identified, the use of ICT assisted behaviour management and improved engagement with students who had been previously identified as reluctant contributors to lessons. This supports my findings from my base school where I have previously used these applications to support SOLs and found them to be useful tools in behaviour management and engaging disruptive students. However, student demographic and data must be considered to ensure that all students have access to ICT and to be aware of any Pupil Premium students who may require additional support in this area.
The feedback from the wider department was very positive however, as I reflect on the success of this approach I shall alter elements of the scheme and allow more time for student reflection. At my base school I developed the use of Surveyhero to encourage students to reflect on their skills, progress and outcomes. I shall also incorporate more collaborative, student led tasks and develop my pace of delivery and the flow and fluency of the plan in line with the use of technology. I would also like to develop the use of ICT and digital resources to further differentiate the SOL to support a wider range of learners.
Kirkman, P. (2017). Digital technologies in the classroom. [ebook] Cambridge Assessment International Education. Available at: http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/images/271191-digital-technologies-in-the-classroom.pdf [Accessed 12 April 2018].
Puentedura, R. (2014). Ruben R. Puentedura's Weblog. [online] Hippasus.com. Available at: http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/ [Accessed 2 April 2018].