Interviews with staff are now in full swing, and we will be interviewing more staff this week before the end of term. There are already some really interesting points arising from these interviews, but one theme that I did not expect to hear from our staff is how some of them are using the assessment diaries and Grademark to support student retention.
From an initial evaluation of the assessment diaries last year, we knew that our administrative staff in one faculty were already using the assessment diaries to track student progression. The administrative staff from this specific faculty would look at the diaries and use the dates provided by academic staff as a prompt to send reminder emails to students who missed the assessment deadlines and try to provide the necessary support for students (e.g. mitigating circumstances or other support). By having an overview of assessment deadlines for all the modules in the faulty, the administrative staff are able to identify students who have constantly missed deadlines. They can then provide pro-active support to student hopefully before they have missed too many deadlines and as a result drop out of the course.
What I did not expect is that GradeMark are also being used partly to support student progress. Year tutors from one department are using GradeMark to better support their termly meeting with students. What the tutors have always done in their termly meeting is to get their students to bring their feedback from their assignment to the meetings and try to identify with students some common issues they face across the different modules from feedback on their assignments.The idea is that the year tutors would be able to get an overview of the students’ progress.
However, before the use of GradeMark, the tutors rely on the students bringing in all the hard copies of their assignments and going through the comments written on the assignment. What tutors found is that many students do not bring all their assignments or simply have not picked them up, so they were not able to gain an overview of how the students are doing across the different modules.
With the use of Grademark, the tutors are now able to bring up all the feedback onscreen and discuss the feedback from different modules together with students in their termly meeting. From my interview with the tutor, she said that she found the use of GradeMark has really enhanced the way she support her students. She particularly like that she can see students’ progressions based on all the feedback they received across the modules within the award on GradeMark. As a result she is able to have more meaningful dialogue with students at their meetings.
One interesting point is that she said GradeMark simply enhanced what they have always done, and it just so happen GradeMark were able to enhance their existing process. In addition, their assessment are largely essay based, so it works really well for them as a department that is relatively small.
I wonder what other interesting stories we will find in other departments. Watch this space!