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In response to a question from a client, I put together this short video outlining four types of assessment used in higher education, formative, summative, ipsative and synoptic. It's produced as an interactive H5P video. Please feel free to link to this short video (under 5 mins) as a resource if you think your students would find it of use.

Books links:

Book cover pokorny_warren_2016https://amzn.to/2INGIgq
Pokorny, H., & Warren, D. (Eds.). (2016). Enhancing Teaching Practice in Higher Education. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Book Cover for Irons 2007
https://amzn.to/2INh4sq
Irons, A. (2007). Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessment and Feedback (New edition). Routledge.

 

 

 

Book Cover for Hauhart 2014https://amzn.to/2IKdzD3
Hauhart, R. C. (2014). Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses (1 edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

 

 

Book Cover for Boud 2018https://amzn.to/2sgnTaz
Boud, D., Ajjawi, R., Dawson, P., & Tai, J. (Eds.). (2018). Developing Evaluative Judgement in Higher Education: Assessment for Knowing and Producing Quality Work (1 edition). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Recently I have been advising colleagues on how they should write Intended Learning Outcomes across all five educational domains (cognitive, knowledge, affective, psychomotor and interpersonal) and conform to the QAA guidance (UK). This guidance (widely adopted across UK higher education a sector) breaks ILOs into:

  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Intellectual Skills
  • Practical and Professional Skills
  • Transferable Skills.

I don't agree with this guidance and would prefer learning designers to identify a balance of outcomes, appropriate to the nature of the discipline, the focus of the module and the modules shape or purpose within a programme. I suggest it makes more sense to do this by using five distinct domains, rather than the existing four vaguely defined catagories. Pragmatically though it is possible to map five distinct domains onto the four existing catagories. This is illustrated below.

Table 1.         Mapping educational domains to QAA categories

 Domain QAA Category Description
Knowledge Knowledge and Understanding Knowledge often describes the scope of the subject intended to represent the ‘nature’ of the discipline with reference to the personal-epistemological and metacognitive development of students
Cognitive Intellectual Skills Cognitive often referred to as intellectual skills refers to ‘knowledge structures’ in cognition, the progressively complex use of knowledge artefacts
Affective Practical and Professional Skills Affective sometimes referred to professional ‘skills’ or attributes perception of value issues, and ranges from simple awareness (Receiving), through to the internalization of personal value systems
Psychomotor Transferable Skills Psychomotor referred to as practical skills refers to progressively complex manual or physical skills. This could be the ability to use a complex piece of software, instrument or paper documentation
Interpersonal  Transferable Skills  Interpersonal referred to as communication skills refers to progressively complex levels in interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, collaboration and cross-cultural communication

As stated elsewhere I think higher education fails to accurately describe the skills, attributes and knowledge that students are intended to acquire through their studies. Creating meaningful ILOs is the beginning of well designed constructively aligned curricula.

I am in Mexico City this week sharing ideas around academic good practice with colleagues from the international network to which my institution belongs. Looking at the program it becomes apparent that there is a deep rich potential for faculty exchange, curriculum resource re-use, and cross institutional quality assurance. Already though it becomes clear that despite the commonalities in our institutions, each has a unique national and local interpretation of curriculum design. Not all strictly adhere to a constructive alignment protocol, not all identify intended learning outcomes and topic or session learning objectives. Without that kind of consistent approach to learning design none of the advantages of being part of an international network are immediately apparent. 

Looking at the learning content exchanged by partners, it seems not just about language differences (some partners are Spanish speaking, others English speaking),it is undoubtedly the case that one would have to you reduce the content and syllabus to such a high level of granularity as to render exchange and reuse largely meaningless. 

I can see a huge amount of work involved in moving just a single programme of university study into the modulur structure designed within the SOLE toolkit. Nonetheless the ability to exchange designs and content in a strictly adhered SOLE model structure seems to me to be worth the effort. I will be championing that intention this week with colleagues.

Newly uploaded, here is the final paper that was previewed in blog postings during December 2014.

Atkinson, S. P. (2014) Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. BPP University Working Papers. London: BPP University.

Image of the cover of Rethinking Personal Tutoring Systems
Rethinking Personal Tutoring Systems

My argument is that in order to tailor effective support for students we must understand better their fundamental beliefs about learning; that to have a conversation about 'our' values we need to understand how others experience their own.

This was the purpose of the POISE project, an HEA Change Initiative and this paper is a summary of its conclusions.

There is much work to be done to make these insights more accessible to rank and file tutors in higher education but the POISE website is a start. As always I am delighted to hear about any use made of the work and to enter into a dialogue with anyone working on similar initiatives.

The Higher Education Academy issues extensive guidance on supporting the  International Student Lifecycle. This is the result of The Teaching International Students project which  was a joint initiative between the HEA and the United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) with funding from the Prime Minister's Initiative 2 (PMI2).

"The project focuses on the ways that lecturers and other teaching staff can maintain and improve the quality of teaching and learning for international students. This is done through providing guidance and information about how to meet the diverse learning needs of international students."

This is an invaluable set of resources to guide practice. Access the resources here:

https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/node/10190

The Higher Education Academy is currently running a Teaching International Students project which aims to support teaching staff in the classroom (either at ‘home’, online or overseas) rather than issues of pre-arrival support. However, the  project team advocates a coordinated approach to supporting international students and believes in a 'life-wide' approach. To this end they have listed of some of the resources that universities and other support services have already developed and implemented to support prospective or newly-arrived international students. Follow this link to access these resources.

https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/internationalisation/ISL_Pre_Arrival

University_of_Gloucestershire

It was a great please to share the new POISE resource with colleagues at The University of Gloucestershire on Friday 13th September. A busy workshop attended by staff on the PGCert,  and colleagues from the Royal Agricultural University, as well as interested others across the University explored faculty responses to dealing with fundamentally different approaches to learning. Expectations of teachers and how we manage in our tutorial roles to ask the right questions was the subject of much debate. An enjoyable workshop for me and I hope a provocative one for colleagues at Gloucestershire. (Simon)

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The value of the advanced organiser dimension of the SOLE model is being evaluated based on its use in a short postgraduate module in January-June 2012. Whilst the toolkit proved invaluable in the module design process, the maintenance of the excel based tool as an advanced organiser for students appears to have been less successful. A fresh project begins in October 2012 to refine the editing tool to allow for more dynamic maintenance. 

Part of my role at the LSE that I really enjoy is working with staff to find novel solutions to age-old problems. So a few weeks ago I was invited to discuss with colleagues in a research and teaching 'cluster' within a department that perennial question: "what's the point of an away day?"

The head of department appeared to want the staff to spend the day writing serious funding proposals and yet a survey of the staff suggested they wanted to "have fun, and get to know each-other." The away-day became a half day and the focus remained a little vague. The fixed points were lunch at noon, a gastro-pub at 5pm, and those apparent polar opposites, 'research applications' and 'fun'.

The result was an off-campus half day at St Martin in the the Fields, in the newly refurbished St Martin's Hall. I had organised a 'research-poster workshop', in which tables of 4 or 5 colleagues, of different grades, backgrounds and discipline focus (socially engineered by the departmental manager), worked from a 'mock' European Journal funding call. The funding call, which modelled the 'real thing',  invited applications for 12-24 month projects to build research networks with at least three country partners and a particular discipline focus. There was a specification about dissemination, use of technology and so on. The session ran along lines similar to the 'World-Cafe' concept. So each table had to come up with a draft idea, blu-tac their A2 poster to the wall and then circulate around the other four groups' posters providing feedback in the form of post-its (colour coded for each group).

Workshop Image

Away Day World Cafe model
Research Poster Workshop

The second session then allowed groups to revise their posters, go around and ask for clarification on any feedback received and produce a 'final' version of their research network proposal. All the while, the groups had a copy of the 'marking criteria that would be used at the end, by them, to judge each-others efforts.

Final posters were put up and the groups circulated 'marking' the submissions. Each group had to come up with an agreed mark for each of the posters under some time pressure. As the 'very light touch' facilitator I went around between each round and photographed the posters, and I threw in a 'red-herring' with an envelope for each group suggesting a rumour that "The DG apparently likes.....".

The effect was to have groups explore:

  • the difficulty of working with criteria which can appear ambiguous and needs careful unpacking;
  • the advantages of collegial review at both the developmental and final stages of proposals;
  • the need to think often 'outside the box' to come up with something original;
  • the danger of getting so carried away on a good idea it evades the call;
  • the danger of listening to rumour;
  • and that it is possible to have fun and still talk about research funding applications!

The feedback was gratifyingly positive and I'd suggest it's an excellent model for a half-day workshop that recognises the need for junior staff to benefit from the experience of more seasoned researchers whilst bringing creatively and innovation to the process. It was also fun! Any workshop where people willingly stand-up and start moving is good to see!

It's always a strange thing to find oneself positioned as an 'expert'. Today I found myself addressing 20 wide-eyed third-year statistics students on the art of the presentation. I was, it seems, the expert on presentations, and provided advice and guidance based almost entirely on what not to do, based on the cumulative experiences over educational technology conferences and educational media conferences over the last 10 years. Curiously, and worryingly, effective.

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