JISC online conference -pre conference activity week

I presented a webinar last Friday (16/11/12) for the JISC pre conference activity week. Rather than repeating what Karen and I presented the week before, I decided to focus this webinar solely on Assessment Diaries.

Assessment Diaries screenshot (student view)

The assessment diaries have always generated a lot of interest at different conferences, workshops and meetings ever since its inception a few years ago as a result of the Change Academy Project supported by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) – Putting assessment at the heart of learning. So I thought it would be useful to have a session focusing on the assessment diaries alone.

I demonstrated some screen shots of the diaries, how it is currently being used and some findings from our JISC project. It was a really good session with lots of discussions. For those who missed it, I am sure it will be available on the JISC design studio or conference site.

Thanks again to Lis Parcell from JISC RSC Wales, Robin Englebright, theProgramme Manager for JISC e-Learning Programme and Peter Chatterton from the planning team for all their help before and during the webinar.

I look forward to joining in some of the other sessions at the 2012 JISC Innovating e-Learning online conference this week.

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Show and Tell Webinar 9 Nov 2012

Karen and I presented a show and tell webinar last Friday. We really enjoyed presenting our findings and have received some really positive feedback. However, we might have tried to include too much in the one hour webinar and as a result, we had to cut short some of the discussions.  Apologies to those who did not get a chance to ask questions or share their experience with us. We are happy to continue any discussion via emails!

For those that missed the webinar, a recording of the webinar is available here along with other recordings from the JISC e-Learning webinar series.


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The Final Report

Photo credit: Colourful.Threads’ from Flickr under Creative Commons

Today, Karen and I sent our final report to JISC. It was a great feeling to finish the report and it was lovely to read over what we have found from our project again.

There are still a few more things to be done, but for now, we are happy that we have completed a key part of our project output.

We are in the progress of producing a video and a number of written case studies as part of our project output. We are also going to meet with our technical support staff in the next few weeks looking to create some Screencast for our students and staff to support the use of Grademark.

All in all, this is only the beginning of the end!

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Implementing best practice guidelines to promote assessment for learning: challenges and rewards (Dundee University)

A sunny day at Dundee (24th July)

After the two-day conference in Bradford, I travelled to Dundee to attend the Higher Education Academy funded seminar at Dundee University on the 26 July. The seminar was really useful and challenged some of the existing literature on assessment and feedback. The key message from the morning session is that feedback should be a dialogue rather than something that is “given” to students. This is certainty something that we found some of our staff are doing through their use of GradeMark.

In the afternoon session, we were able to gain a bit more insight into the interACT project, another project in the JISC assessment and feedback program. While projects have met before at project meetings and webinars, it was really good to have a focused session on the project. The work they are doing is interesting and I would like to see if we can use a similar model to look at our assessment and feedback practice here.

The last session I stayed for (I had to catch a flight back to Cardiff…) was Dr. Steve Draper’s session on 2D feedback (Ipsative and cohort-based). I wish I could have stayed for the whole session, but I had to leave half way through Steve’s session.  Steve suggests that “grades” or “marks” can also play a role in feedback. We are often too quick to dismiss that grades alone are not feedback. What Steve suggests is that if students were given the opportunity to understand their grades with context, i.e. compared to their previous work/others work in discussions with each other or tutors, they can also have a role in improving students’ learning. This is certainty a way we can also look into how GradeMark could improve the assessment experience for students. We are often focused on the “text” function within GradeMark (and rightly so), but what about the grade within GradeMark?How could we help students understand the relationship between grades and the comments from tutors? This is certainty something that is worth thinking about.

The presentation slides for the event is available here at the Higher Education Academy website.

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Programme Focused Assessment – How can technologies help achieve it?

Cath Jones and myself went to the PASS (Programme Assessment Strategies) conference – Assessment Strategies: The way forward, at Bradford University last Tuesday and Wednesday (24th and 25th August). It was a long trip for us to travel from Wales but it was worth the trip.

The key theme of the conference is Programme Focused Assessment (PFA). As I understand it, PFA essentially assessment that is designed to enable students to address and understand programme outcomes in an integrative way rather than ONLY isolated learning outcomes of specific modules. In practice, it is a lot more complicated and the PASS position paper provides a good insight into better understanding the idea.

At the conference, there were a number of discussion opportunities where we were able to explore into more depth specific case studies that look at how PFA can be achieved. After the conference, I started to wonder how the two technologies we are evaluating here at Glamorgan can help to achieve PFA, and realised that our staff might already be doing some PFA with the use of Assessment Diaries and GradeMark.

A number of staff have mentioned at our interviews that Assessment Diaries have helped them look at the assessment diet of the entire programme rather than simply focusing on a single module. In particular, those that have team meetings to discuss assessment deadlines and feedback dates were able to look at the student experience from a programme perspectives. It is unclear from our interviews whether the discussions of programme outcomes feature heavily at those meetings about assessment dates, but I can see how Assessment Diaries can initiate some dialogue around PFA.

The use of GradeMark by some of our staff can also play a part in PFA. This is especially useful,  as I feel that sometimes when we talk about PFA we focus so much on the design of the assessment and we forget about how feedback also need to focus at a programme level. The use of GradeMark by our year tutors as discussed  previous post could provide a way forward. 

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As the project coming to a close, we are increasingly doing a bit more disseminations.

Photo Credit: Emilio Quintana on flickr.com under Creative commons

A few weeks ago, we had a visitor from Oxford University wanting to find out more about our use of GradeMark and assessment diaries. Roger Pearson from Oxford University’s computing services visited us on the 25 June to discuss our use of Grademark and assessment diaries. According to Roger, Oxford is looking into using Grademark, and Roger is looking to find out the experience different institutions have experienced so far. We shared with Roger some of our initial findings, and Roger was especially impressed by our assessment diaries.

In addition, Karen and I are invited to write an article for Ariadne, an e-journal for information professionals in Higher and Further Education institutions in the UK, US and further afield, published  by the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN.

Next week, Karen will be going to the Turnitin Product Advisory meeting to share some of our experience to date from the project. And the week after that, Cath Jones and myself will be going to the PASS project event  on Programme Assessment Strategies! So a busy few weeks ahead for us!



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Conference call with the JISC team

On the 7th June, Karen and I had a conference call with Lisa GreySheila MacNeill, and Marianne Sheppard from JISC. After some usual talk about the weather, (where we were all very jealous of the Sun in Scotland where Shelia was), we started our quick update on the project.

Karen and I provided an overview on where we are – in the middle of analysing our data collected via focus groups, questionnaire and interviews with academic staff, administrative staff and students.  We were able to share some of our initial findings and had a good discussions about some of them with the JISC team. The team also provided us with some suggestions and further information which we find really helpful.

We also received some valuable feedback from Lisa on our interim report. All in all a very good meeting!

Thanks again to Lisa, Shelia and Marianne.

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Assessing Employability Skills? – A view from Hong Kong

I attended a seminar by Dr. Cecilia Chan from Centre for the enhancement of Teaching and Learning (cetl) the University of Hong Kong at Aston University yesterday (31 May).

The seminar was titled: “Curriculum Reform at the University of Hong Kong – Assessing Employability Skills”. Universities in Hong Kong are going through changes both in higher education and in secondary education,  known as the “334” (essentially, changes from 3 years University to 4 years) . Cecilia shared with us the strategies and changes University of Hong Kong has put in place in respond to this change.

Particularly interested to us from a project perspective is their introduction of assessment policy. While there is an emphasis on uses of diverse assessment methods and the need to assess employability skills, the policy I feel has a heavier emphasis on assessment of learning over assessment for learning. I understand that this has got to do with the Hong Kong, and especially University of Hong Kong context where they have a world leading reputation to maintain. I have no idea how changes can happen in such an research intensive context where staff are even less willing to engage with learning and teaching than perhaps some other institutions.

However, the cetl team did experience with technologies to promote the idea – http://uvision.hku.hk/portal/video.php?video_id=11846

Cecilia told me that not every staff were very receptive of the videos, butI feel this is something worth thinking about. We often talked about technology enhanced learning (TEL), but how are we using technologies to promote TEL?


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A visit from Dr. Cath Ellis from JISC ebeam project

We were very happy that Dr. Cath Ellis from the JISC ebeam project was able to come and speak to us on Wednesday(30th May) about electronic assessment. One of our colleagues had the foresight to invite Cath to do a seminar for us before I met Cath at the JISC first project meeting.

The title of Cath’s seminar is “Electronic Assessment Management: the benefits for students, staff and the institution”. Cath gave us a little background into the her experience with Electronic assessment at the University of Huddersfield and some key benefits that staff and students experienced.

Karen and I both felt that there are similarities in Cath’s findings to ours. After the seminar, Cath suggested that maybe we should consider exchanging data between our projects to provide an even wider picture of the use of GradeMark. It is definitely an exciting prospect!

Cath also talked about assessment analytic. The idea of using assessment information we already have in a way that will help lecturers to understands their students in ways that were not conceived before is definitely exciting. More importantly, the information should allow us to have more meaningful dialogue with students is a huge benefit.

All in all, it was a great seminar and I enjoyed it very much. I was a little disappointed that there were not a huge number of staff at the seminar as it is “marking” season. However, I am glad that we recorded the session and we will make it available to our staff who could not attend.

Thanks again Cath for coming to Wales and I hope you had a good time visiting the world-famous Grogg shop! 😉

For more information on the ebeam project please visit their blog.

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“Doesn’t really bother me how I get my feedback, it all depends on how good the feedback is.”

Photo Credit: dieselbug2007’s on Flickr.com under Creative Commons

“Doesn’t really bother me how I get my feedback, it all depends on how good the feedback is.”  – 1st year psychology student

The above quotation is from one of our students at a recent focus group. I think it sums up really nicely the key to technology enhanced assessment and feedback.

The tools could enhance the student experience,  but the most important thing is still the quality of the feedback. It seems like common sense but as the literature and NSS scores tell us, we still have a long way to go.

Alice (analysing our student focus groups in Sunny Wales!!!)

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