A A A

Details

  • Author(s): Dr Rosalind Duhs
  • Title: Assessment and feedback to students
  • Subject: HE - Education
  • Keywords: UKOER, UKPSF, OMAC, CPD4HE, assessment, feedback
  • Language(s): English
  • Material type(s): Text, Presentation
  • File format(s): ZIP, HTML, PDF, RTF, ODT, PPT, DOC
  • File size: Various
  • Publish Date: 6th July 2011, 12th August 2011
  • Licence: CC-BY-NC-SA

Downloads

Assessment and feedback to students

Assessment shapes learning

Student approaches to learning are shaped by the way learning is assessed.

It is natural for students to aim primarily to leave higher education with a qualification, especially when graduate unemployment is widespread, but instrumental reasons for study can be minimised by developing authentic ways of assessing student learning. Assessment can be planned to foster all-round development and to encourage students to adopt deep approaches to learning.

The ultimate aim of these resources is that all assessment should be assessment for learning. The materials in this unit are: a set of PowerPoint slides on assessment in higher education; a tutor’s guide to these, which aims to help readers to use the slides in their own educational development programmes; a quiz on assessment; tutor’s notes on the quiz, including answers; materials on diversifying assessment and giving feedback to students.

Resource Content

Downloads

This resource is available for download in the following formats.

  • Unit Package without audio - ZIP (5MB)
  • Audio Guidelines and transcript - ZIP (13.1MB)
  • Assessment for Learning I - PDF (400KB) | PPT (443KB)
  • Assessment for Learning I Explanation - PDF (209KB)
  • Diagnostic Quiz - PDF (24KB) | ODT (27KB) | RTF (62KB)
  • Diagnostic Quiz Key and Comments - PDF (32KB) | ODT (20KB) | RTF (65KB)
  • Diversifying Assessment - PDF (26KB) | DOC (43KB)
  • Assessing student learning in diverse ways: Portfolios - PDF (515KB) | PPT (181KB)
  • Portfolio Assessment Tasks - PDF (42KB) | DOC (67KB)
  • Dialogic Feedback - PDF (28KB) | DOC (47KB)
  • Feedback to Students - PDF (304KB) | PPT (181KB)
  • Self- and Peer Assessment - PDF (38KB) | DOC (50KB)
  • Resource Guidelines - PDF (27KB) | ODT (20KB) | RTF (67KB)

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.

Details

  • Author(s): Dr Rosalind Duhs
  • Title: Assessment and feedback to students
  • Subject: HE - Education
  • Keywords: UKOER, UKPSF, OMAC, CPD4HE, assessment, feedback
  • Language(s): English
  • Material type(s): Text, Presentation
  • File format(s): ZIP, HTML, PDF, RTF, ODT, PPT, DOC
  • File size: Various
  • Publish Date: 6th July 2011, 12th August 2011
  • Licence: CC-BY-NC-SA

Downloads

Details

  • Author(s): Dr Rosalind Duhs
  • Title: Assessment and feedback to students
  • Subject: HE - Education
  • Keywords: UKOER, UKPSF, OMAC, CPD4HE, assessment, feedback
  • Language(s): English
  • Material type(s): Text, Presentation
  • File format(s): ZIP, HTML, PDF, RTF, ODT, PPT, DOC
  • File size: Various
  • Publish Date: 6th July 2011, 12th August 2011
  • Licence: CC-BY-NC-SA

Downloads

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.

Assessment for Learning I





Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Assessment for Learning I

Explanation of PowerPoint Presentation for Workshop Facilitators and HE Teachers

This introduction to assessment for learning is based on the power point presentation entitled ‘Assessment for Learning I’. The slides are reproduced and comments made below each to support anyone who would like to use the presentation or parts of it for session facilitation.

This text will also be useful for self-study. Links to further resources are provided. Teachers in higher education will find the approaches and techniques suggested here useful. They involve participants[1] in active learning which is effective for all teaching in higher education (Prince, 2004).

[1] A note on the meaning of ’participant’ and ’student’. ’Participant’ is used to denote staff taking part in the session. ’Student’ is used for the university learners they teach.

Slide 2

Slide 2 Image

The reason for starting with a quick round of introductions is that discussion is important for learning of this kind. Workshop participants are much more likely to take part in an exchange of views if they have introduced themselves in the learning environment. Hearing your own voice and simply saying who you are and what you do initially in a learning situation makes it less challenging to speak when more complex issues are raised. This strategy helps to overcome reluctance to talk.

The points on interest in assessment and concerns are valuable. If the areas which are most relevant to participants are highlighted, they will engage and feel motivated.

It is useful to record the key concepts which emerge during this opening discussion on a flip chart which you can display and refer to as you work through the rest of the workshop. Participants will then know that their concerns are being addressed and you can ensure that you make links to their experience and teaching context.

Slide 3

Slide 3 Image

Intended learning outcomes help the facilitator to clarify what participants should be able to do by the end of the session. They provide a structure and lead into relevant and helpful learning activities to enable participants to attain the outcomes which have been specified.

Slide 4

Slide 4 Image

These definitions are important to teachers who work with assessment. It will be difficult for participants to follow the session if they are not familiar with these basic terms.

Slide 5

Slide 5 Image

Basing learning on personal experience is an effective way of creating links between previously-acquired knowledge and new knowledge. The discussion of experience often highlights central issues which can also be referred to subsequently. The ‘think pair share’ model, whereby individual reflection is followed by a discussion between neighbours, then opened out to the whole group, usually works well.

In this example, the ‘think pair share’ approach also enables participants to consider the situation of the learner whose performance is being assessed. Empathy with the ‘victim’ of assessment helps teachers to appreciate that some forms of assessment can be stressful and may not reflect ability fairly.

Slide 6

Slide 6 Image

This slide builds on the Slide 5 activity. Participants are now invited to focus on a predicament which is all too common, students not knowing what is expected of them. Anna is a real student who studied at UCL so this is an authentic case. It is useful for participants to suggest their own strategies. These can be further developed through discussion and built on as the workshop progresses.

Slide 7

Slide 7 Image

Alverno College in the United States pioneered an approach to assessment which promoted multifaceted (all-round) learning. Mentowski’s (2000) research follows the development of college students and their perceptions of the impact of their learning on their subsequent careers. Each of the bullet points in this slide is clarified below.

Authenticity (’contexts related to life roles’) is important if assessment is to be useful in the long term. For instance, students are unlikely to be required to sit down and write long texts about what they know by hand within strict time constraints during their professional life, as they are during traditional examinations. They are more likely to be asked to present their ideas, enter into a dialogue with clients, patients, colleagues, or customers, and use their judgement to make decisions. Assessment tasks involving presentations, role play, negotiation, and the opportunity to complete projects are examples of assessment tasks which are closer to life roles.

Sharing learning outcomes and assessment criteria with students from the start of a course or module is basic good practice. Students who know what is expected of them are more likely to rise to challenges and do better. Self assessment is a central part of the Alverno model. Professional learning and general preparation for work involve the ability to identify areas for further development. Self-awareness and reflection on learning are therefore important attributes for learners whatever their area of study.

’Multiplicity’ implies that a variety of assessment tasks should be used and build on each other. They should become broader and increasingly complex over time as students learn more and develop. It makes sense to assess in different ways because many skills and abilities can then be demonstrated ranging from academic writing encompassing argument and analysis to clear oral communication of complex ideas.

Here is a link which provides information on assessment tasks related to a range of learning outcomes (see pp.35-36). The approach is applicable to all disciplines although it was written for engineering.

http://www.engsc.ac.uk/downloads/scholarart/learning_outcomes.pdf

A useful brief overview is also available here:

http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/firstwords/fw23.html

Feedback on performance to guide future improvement is an essential building block of learning. ’External perspectives’ and ’performance’ suggest that the skills needed to demonstrate knowledge and understanding are also assessed (eg writing ability, presentation skills).

Slide 8

Slide 8 Image

Participants’ ideas as to why we assess student learning can be generated through discussion in small groups. They can be typed on-screen directly onto an additional power point slide or a separate (full screen) word document or a paper flip chart which can be displayed. Another technique is to project slides onto a whiteboard and write on that round the text on the slide. This approach is often useful when comments or explanations need to be added.

Slide 9

Slide 9 Image

Participants can compare their ideas with those on slide 9. The facilitator will not need to explain much as these points are not difficult. It is good to leave participants the space to read this slide themselves, reflect, and make any points or ask questions.

Slide 10

Slide 10 Image

This slide illustrates the ‘backwash’ phenomenon. In essence, student approaches to learning are shaped by assessment, especially summative assessment (Struyven, Dochy, & Janssens, 2005). As they progress through higher education, students become steadily more strategic in selecting topics of study which they believe will be relevant for summative assessment.

Slide 11

Slide 11 Image

The focus now turns to learning outcome 1 on formative assessment. The type of learning fostered through assessment is considered first. There is an overlap between formative and summative assessment so much of this section is relevant to both.

If participants prefer, it is possible to alter the order of slides. If time is short, aspects of summative assessment (learning outcome 2) can be discussed first, for example.

Slide 12

Slide 12 Image

This slide gives participants the chance to speculate about what higher order learning might be. If this seems challenging or tedious, you could omit slide 12.

Slide 13

Slide 13 Image

Workshop participants appreciate the opportunity to consider this slide and discuss it with their neighbours. Subjects vary; it is often necessary to begin with ’adoptive learning’ before ’adaptive learning’ is undertaken. However, the teacher’s aim should be to stretch and challenge students so assessment tasks should be designed to assess adaptive learning whenever possible.

Slide 14

Slide 14 Image

This slide relates to the concept of higher order learning. Higher order learning is active as it involves processing knowledge. Learning through understanding occurs when learners are involved in working with knowledge, not only listening to the teacher. The quote (White, 1966) comes from a novel by Nobel Prizewinning Australian writer, Patrick White.

Slide 15

Slide 15 Image

The Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) can be difficult to understand and it is advisable to critique it. Biggs differentiates phases of learning and portrays them like steps, the pinnacle of attainment being the ability to carry out challenging tasks such as ’generalise, hypothesise, reflect’. These belong to the category of ’extended abstract’. Here complex relationships between areas of knowledge are applied to newly-shaped notions and discoveries (the round shape). Learning may not follow this model sequentially and is unlikely to be clear-cut. Learners naturally move between phases.

Participants need to study this figure and consider their personal interpretation before the group discusses it. Participants’ subject areas, student groups, and the level of the courses they teach will influence their approach.

Biggs’ model is useful because it acts as a springboard for considering assessment tasks designed to test a range of learning outcomes

Slide 16-18

Slide 16 Image
Slide 17 Image
Slide 18 Image

The issue of motivation is key to worthwhile, deep approaches to study in HE. Motivation is strongly linked to assessment (Struyven et al., 2005). If learners are looking for a short cut to qualification rather than focusing on a more profound involvement in learning, they will not benefit to the full from their university education. Enthusiasm and interesting ways of working with content help students to approach learning with more engagement, as does encouraging feedback.

Slide 19

Slide 19 Image

Participants recognise this type of comment from their own learning histories. They seldom admit to making them, however. The problem with this type of feedback (which is very common) is that students may not be able to use it to improve. They may not know how to analyse, write logically, or why a section of their text is not relevant. They may be encouraged by knowing that their work is good, interesting, or even very good, but they may not be able to replicate that quality in future work if they do not understand what has led to these positive comments.

Slide 20

Slide 20 Image

All these points are straightforward and it is easy to appreciate why these strategies have been recommended.

There is a bit too much material here. It might be better to divide slide 20. It’s best to get participants to consider this content and discuss it. If you simply read slides out loud, participants might just as well read them at home. No one can focus on reading a content-rich slide and listen to explanations at the same time. It’s also helpful to break content up and use the animation options to show and discuss one point at a time. Try to avoid intricate animation which will distract your audience (although you might find it entertaining yourself).

Slide 21-23

Slide 21 Image
Slide 22 Image
Slide 23 Image


Slides 22 and 23 are normally supplied as a handout. They refer to written work such as essays and reports. This material could be studied at home and discussion could take place in a virtual learning environment (VLE).

Slide 24-25

Slide 24 Image

SENLEF is ’Student Enhanced Learning through Effective Feedback’. The 2004 HEA project generated useful materials including case studies (Juwah et al., 2004).

Slide 25 Image

The aim of this activity is to enable participants to reflect on how the approaches to providing feedback to students in Slide 25 can be integrated into their teaching. Diverse subjects can lead to interesting debates on the principles.

Slide 26

Slide 26 Image

These short cuts have all been tried and tested. Recent projects on audio feedback show that it works well. This link provides references to a number of case studies. http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/projects/merry.aspx

Slide 27-28

Slide 27 Image
Slide 28 Image


Luke’s blog is authentic. It gives rise to some relevant and compelling discussion on the impact of end of course assessment. Many students who have succeeded in the traditional exam system like to continue with exams. However, Struyven et al (2005) suggest that a range of modes of assessment are more likely to result in deep approaches to learning. They refer to a range of studies which confirm this

Slide 29

Slide 29 Image

There is some confusion about marking systems in higher education. Some assessment tasks are objective. When this is the case, for example in mathematics, a range of marks including very high marks are awarded. When subjective judgements are made (in the case of assessment tasks where a variety of responses are possible such as essays), the allocation of marks is an art rather than a science. Often a combination of criterion- and norm-referenced approaches is used. Initially, criteria and marking schemes are applied. If too many students fail or score high marks, norm-related adjustments may take place. There is a sense that a normal distribution of marks, with most examinees scoring around the 2.1 level, should occur. In fact, pure criterion-referencing where each student’s performance is considered without regard to the performance of others in the cohort, is often regarded as best practice. It would be possible for an exceptional cohort of students to achieve a lot of high scores. But in the real world, the judgement of experienced academic staff is relied on to achieve reliability in the sense of the fair allocation of marks to students (Sadler, 2009). Double marking and external markers strengthen the impression of inter-scorer reliability.

Slide 30

Slide 30 Image

The different assessment tasks suggested here are discussed in relation to the demonstration and testing of a range of skills. Too often in the UK, writing is the mainstay of assessment tasks. When academic staff use oral assessment, such as short vivas, they are generally favourably impressed by the way they can gauge student understanding through face to face dialogue. In many other European countries, oral assessment is the norm. One of the advantages is that marks can be generated quickly. Perhaps shortened traditional exams could be combined with vivas.

Slide 31

Slide 31 Image

The themes which have emerged during the session are drawn together in this slide. Ultimately learning naturally has to be done by students themselves. They cannot expect to be spoon-fed as this would not achieve higher order learning. A choice of assessment task is motivating. These examples are more likely to provide students with the opportunity to approach their studies in an engaged way and develop skills and attributes which will serve them well beyond university. This approach to learning and assessment is thoroughly developed at Alverno as outlined in slide 7.

Slide 32

Slide 32 Image

These suggestions for a variety of ways of approaching learning and assessment can be supported by the provision of links to resources.

Resources

There are many teaching, learning and assessment resources available from US, Australian and UK universities and the Higher Education Academy, for example:

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/teachtip.htm

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58474/TFTrace.html

http://www.yale.edu/graduateschool/teaching/forms/Becoming_Teachers.pdf

http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/

Conclusion

Invite questions to conclude, and link to what participants have come up with. Invite them to consider what they will be introducing in their teaching and assessment as a result of the session.

References

Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. 2nd ed. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.

Mentowski, M. and Associates (2000). Learning that lasts: integrating learning development, and performance in college and beyond. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Juwah, C., Macfarlane-Dick, D., Matthew, B., Nicol, D., Ross, D., & Smith, B. (2004, 13 March 2011). Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback. from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id353_senlef_guide.pdf

Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.

Sadler, D. R. (2009). Grade integrity and the representation of academic achievement. Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 807-826.

Struyven, K., Dochy, F., & Janssens, S. (2005). Students’ perceptions about evaluation and assessment in higher education: a review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(4), 331–347.

White, P. (1966). The Solid Mandala. New York: Viking Press.

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Diagnostic Quiz

Please select 'True' (a) or 'False' (b) for the following statements.

1. Reliability in assessment means that you are testing student attainment of course learning outcomes.

a) True
b) False

2. Summative assessment takes place at the end of a course.

a) True
b) False

3. Formative assessment provides students with information on their progress but does not contribute to course grading.

a) True
b) False

4. Summative assessment is the final grade or result which a student attains.

a) True
b) False

5. Validity means that what is being tested is what has been taught and what the examiner aims to test.

a) True
b) False

6. Reliability means that two examiners marking the same assessment task would award the same score.

a) True
b) False

7. Summative assessment contributes towards the final grading of student performance.

a) True
b) False

8. Summative assessment cannot also be formative.

a) True
b) False

9. The main function of formative assessment is to provide students with feedback so they can improve their performance.

a) True
b) False

10. Students should be provided with grading criteria and assess their own work and the work of their peers.

a) True
b) False

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Diagnostic quiz key and comments

KEY

1. (b)

2. (b)

3. (a)

4. (b)

5. (a)

6. (a)

7. (a)

8. (b)

9. (a)

10. (a)

Comments

This diagnostic test serves as a basis for discussion. Common terms used in assessment in higher education can be clarified through the quiz items. Subsequent learning can then be based on a shared understanding of key concepts.

If you are working in a group, avoid focusing on quiz scores as participants with less experience of assessment in higher education may not be familiar with these terms.

Suggested responses

An explanation of the responses in the key above follows.

1 (b)

’Reliability’ in assessment in higher education is often used in relation to inter-scorer (or inter-rater) reliability. If inter-scorer reliability is high, lecturers marking the same piece of work against the same criteria and marking scheme arrive at the about the same mark. A range of studies suggest that this is often not the case (Sadler, 2005, 2009).

Testing student attainment of intended learning outcomes is good practice. Students should be informed of learning outcomes, provided with opportunities to attain them through teaching and learning activities, and be required to demonstrate that they have achieved intended learning outcomes by completing relevant assessment tasks.

2 (b)

Summative assessment contributes to final results. Although it has traditionally taken place at the end of courses, students now often have a range of summative assessment tasks to complete during a course. The advantage of this approach is that assessment is not restricted to high stakes occasional time-limited opportunities to demonstrate attainment of course intended learning outcomes.

3 (a)

It is true that formative assessment or feedback to students on their work provides students with information on their progress but does not contribute to course grading. However, there is no reason why assessment should not be both summative (contributing to final grades) and formative (providing students with information on their progress). For instance, if students get feedback on their exam scripts, summative assessment will also be formative.

4 (b)

Summative assessment is assessment which contributes to a student’s final grade or result. It is not the final grade or result.

5 (a)

Validity does mean that what is tested is what has been taught and what the examiner aims to test.

6. (a)

Inter-scorer or inter-rater reliability means that two examiners marking the same assessment task would award the same score. As mentioned above, this type of reliability is not easy to achieve so grading criteria, marking schemes and standardisation are needed. Double (preferably blind) marking and external marking are also important.

7 (a)

Summative assessment does contribute towards the final grading of student performance.

8 (b)

Summative assessment can be formative. See point 3 above.

9. (a)

It is true that the main function of formative assessment is to provide students with feedback so they can improve their performance. Formative assessment is also useful to teachers because results help them to evaluate how effectively their teaching is facilitating student learning.

10. (a)

It is good practice to provide students with grading criteria at the start of a course and inform them as to how their progress is to be assessed both formatively and summatively. If students have the chance to assess their own work and the work of their peers, their results improve (Rust, Price, & O’Donovan, 2003).

References

Rust, C., Price, M., & O’Donovan, B. (2003). Improving students’ learning by developing their understanding of assessment criteria and processes. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(2), 147-164.

Sadler, D. R. (2005). Interpretations of criteria-based assessment and grading in higher education. 30(2), 175 - 194.

Sadler, D. R. (2009). Grade integrity and the representation of academic achievement. Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 807-826.

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Presentation

Slide1.GIF Slide2.GIF
Slide3.GIF Slide4.GIF

Diversifying Assessment

Assessment has a strong influence on student learning. Brown (2001) and Gibbs (1999) suggest that if you want to change students’ approaches to learning, you should modify the assessment tasks you give them.

Diverse forms of assessment help students to develop skills and abilities which deepen their understanding of their subject and prepare them for work. For example, if you ask students to give a presentation which will contribute to their final grade for a module, they will probably prepare it carefully. They will need to consider their presentation skills as well as subject-based knowledge. If a group project is included in their assessment diet, they will have to adjust to the demands of the group and manage the distribution of the work, communicating effectively with their peers.

The aim of this resource is to provide:

  1. background information on less traditional assessment tasks
  2. practical advice on how the tasks can be organised.

Three annotated presentations are available. Academic developers could use them separately or as part of a series. Academic staff can draw on them to plan new forms of assessment.

The slides were designed as short, informal lunchtime ‘taster’ sessions for busy academics. Tailored consultancy was then offered to help staff to plan and introduce new assessment methods.

The sessions were interactive so that staff could share any relevant experience. There was often a lively exchange of views which enriched learning.

Reference

BROWN, G. (2001) Assessment: a guide for lecturers. Learning and Teaching Support Network Generic Series Assessment.

GIBBS, G. (1999) Using assessment strategically to change the way students learn. IN BROWN, S. & GLASNER, A. (Eds.) Assessment Matters in Higher Education: Choosing and Using Diverse Approaches. Buckingham, SRHE/Open University Press.

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Assessing Student Learning in Diverse Ways: Portfolios





Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Assessment tasks for inclusion in portfolios

Introduction

This resource draws on the learning outcomes in the Honours Degree subject benchmark statements for a few subjects and sketches how students might demonstrate that they have achieved them. These learning outcomes would be relevant across a range of subjects.

The benchmark statements are available here:

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/subject-guidance/Pages/Honours-degree-benchmark-statements.aspx

They are written at threshold level, the minimum for achieving a pass.

The assessment tasks in the tables could also be used singly outside a portfolio or clustered with other assessment tasks to evidence the attainment of multiple learning outcomes in a portfolio.

Electronic portfolios are versatile

The rationale for recommending electronic portfolios is that they are flexible and allow for the inclusion of sound, film, figures and other images. They can be accessed by a range of people who might want to see what a student has achieved.

Preparing students to work on portfolios

The scope of each task needs to be limited by the tutor and students should be given assessment criteria before they embark on the tasks. Although portfolios are normally produced by individual students, group work can be included. Students can reflect on their role within the group and produce an analysis or critique of a specific aspect of the task which can be individually assessed.

A series of tasks spread over time (a term or year or a certain aspect of a programme) lend themselves well to inclusion in portfolios, but there is nothing to prevent the approach being used for shorter pieces of work with multiple facets, such as short enquiry-based projects, design projects, cases in healthcare courses, or small-scale undergraduate research projects. Students can derive a sense of satisfaction from appreciating what they have achieved when work is assembled in a portfolio.

Teacher workload and assessing portfolios

Teachers can spread their workload by encouraging a cycle of drafting with peer feedback and redrafting. Tutors can look at sections of the portfolio as they are completed and provide feedback.

Final tutor assessment of the whole product is important if the portfolio is to contribute to final course results, but very detailed reading of the completed portfolio will not be necessary if feedback has been provided on separate elements. The key is the annotated table of contents with the student’s explanation of how attainment of learning outcomes is evidenced and where the relevant texts or virtual artefacts are to be found. Hyperlinks can be used in electronic portfolios for easy access to the appropriate sections of the portfolio. The link between learning outcomes and evidence of how these have been achieved needs to be strong. Tutor evaluation of the attainment of learning outcomes is the essence of the assessment of the student’s work.

Examples of learning outcomes and assessment tasks

1. Anthropology

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Subject-benchmark-statement-Anthropology-.aspx

Learning outcome Possible assessment tasks for portfolio inclusion

Show a basic ability to recognise some of the ways in which anthropological knowledge is applied.

Study a piece of anthropological research. Excerpts from journal articles can be used or students can be invited to choose their own topic. See for example this cultural anthropology website. http://www.culanth.org/

Students should produce a text (web page, mind map, presentation, or essay) which explains how anthropological knowledge has been applied in the example.

Demonstrate some ability to recognise the ethical implications of anthropological research and enquiry.

Anthropological research could be used to demonstrate this learning outcome. Students could plan their own small research project and consider the ethical implications. This would be a good group activity. Reflection in the form of a log of the process could be included. Images, films and written texts could be used to trace students’ development of their awareness of the ethical implications of anthropological research.

2. Construction, property and surveying

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Subject-benchmark-statement-Construction-property-and-surveying.aspx

Learning outcome Possible assessment tasks for portfolio inclusion
Present quantitative and qualitative [construction, property and surveying] information, together with analysis, argument and commentary, in a form appropriate to the intended audience, including appropriate acknowledgement and referencing of sources. Study specific aspects of a building project (real or planned). Students may choose from a range of relevant options. Students prepare and give a short presentation which demonstrates their ability to analyse, structure an argument, and make a commentary tailored to a specific audience. Students have the opportunity to practise and get feedback from peers. Handouts should be carefully referenced. The process of preparing the presentation should be documented in the electronic portfolio. A video of the presentation can be uploaded using YouTube or Flickr for example.

3. Chemistry

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Subject-benchmark-statement-Chemistry.aspx

Learning outcome Possible assessment tasks for portfolio inclusion
Apply standard methodology to the solution of problems in chemistry.

Students are given a series of chemistry problems and apply standard methodology to solve them. The problems could be solved theoretically in which case mathematical problem-solving could be used. They could also be solved practically in a lab environment in which case lab reports could be put into the portfolio. Incidentally, this is a very clear presentation about problem-solving in chemistry:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V34-7ystD9w

4. Sociology

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Subject-benchmark-statement-Sociology.aspx

Learning outcome Possible assessment tasks for portfolio inclusion
Provide an analytical account of social diversity and inequality and their effects

Students select a case study from a selection. They analyse how inequality of certain social characteristics have impacted on the examples in the cases. Students could work in groups and suggest which elements of inequality appear most damaging in the cases. What steps might be taken to help lessen these inequalities?

The analysis and suggested solutions could form part of a portfolio. If the work was detailed, drawing on a range of resources, it could be submitted as a portfolio. Further learning outcomes such as referencing and structuring a report, and team working if chosen, could be evidenced.

Concluding comment

Note that all these examples show how the learning outcome is demonstrated in the assessment task. If, for example, application is required, application is carried out in the course of the assessment task, and so on.

Core learning outcomes can be complemented with outcomes related to the process of the production of the portfolio, such as working successfully in teams, reflecting on professional practice, referencing and writing a certain type of text (report, essay, review etc).

All outcomes need to be based on learning activities. If students are asked to reflect, they need to be provided with guidance as to what reflection means in their context, be given the opportunity to practice reflection, and understand how reflection might be evidenced. The same applies to many other complex skills such as analysis and critical thinking.

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Feedback systems and student engagement in the immediate use of feedback

Students need to engage with feedback and understand what it means if they are to benefit fully from it. Planning feedback related to assessment criteria which are clear and understood by students is a useful basis for feedback systems which support student learning. Student insight into the nature of good work through the use of exemplars will often enable them to improve standards.

Feedback systems with some of the characteristics of academic peer review have the potential to enhance student learning. The following elements are recommended:

  1. Clear assessment criteria related to core learning outcomes
  2. Practice at applying the criteria to students’ own work and the work of peers
  3. The opportunity to draft, self-assess, and peer-assess work and redraft before submission
  4. Brief tutor comments on self and peer assessment before redraft
  5. Brief or targeted tutor comments on the redrafted final version of the work. Comments relate to self and peer assessment and include explicit suggestions as to what to do to improve future work
  6. Follow-up discussion of comments either face-to-face or online
  7. Plans for improvement written by students.

Write an outline of a feedback system and publish it on your virtual learning environment site/in course handouts at the start of term. The text below is a suggestion.

Feedback

The provision and use of feedback is important for learning. The feedback system on this course is modelled on the academic practice of peer review. Information on the type of work required underpins the model. The critical scrutiny of work by the writer/producer of the ‘text’ in its broadest terms (essay, lab report, presentation, poster, project report etc) results in revision and comments (self assessment). This is followed by assessment by peers who also comment on the work. The text may be revised again. All the versions of the text together with comments are submitted to the tutor who marks the text and makes brief, explicit suggestions as to how the student can develop her/his work to produce a better result in future.

Working in this way will help you to develop your ability to evaluate your own work and the work of your peers, which is a useful skill. Remember that receiving feedback is an emotional experience. Balance positive and negative feedback and do not give negative feedback without suggesting ways of improving. End written and spoken feedback on a positive note, relating good elements of the work to an explanation of why quality in a particular area is high.

Introducing the feedback system

Students need to become accustomed to this way of working. It may be easier to suggest that they write short texts to begin with to familiarise themselves with assessment criteria and try out the draft/feedback/redraft system.

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Feedback to Students





Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Self- and Peer Assessment

Formative and Summative use

Self- and peer assessment can be used in formative assessment (feedback to students). They are useful as a component of a dialogic feedback system which offers students multiple opportunities to revise their work, learning from and reflecting on it and improving quality.

Self- and peer assessment can also contribute to final marks (summative assessment). In most assessment regimes, they do not account for a large proportion of marks because of the high stakes attached to summative assessment. Academic staff need to be responsible for the allocation of marks which contribute to final degree results.

Student engagement with feedback and focus on tasks

Students are too often the passive recipients of results. They focus on marks when it is too late to develop the work concerned and may not feel motivated to engage with feedback.

These approaches are advantageous because they lead to active involvement with feedback and a strong focus on the piece/s of work concerned. Students engage repeatedly with the prerequisite knowledge and develop their thinking and any other skills involved. Students also gain a great deal from collaborating with their peers.

Exemplars and assessment criteria

Examples of good work and the assessment criteria which are applied to evaluate that work are needed if self- and peer assessment are to be effective. Self- and peer assessment both have to be based on an understanding of what constitutes a good piece of work. Students will then be able to judge how their own work and the work of their peers compares with what is required and to close the gap between their current performance and a good/excellent standard.

It is good practice for students to try assessing typical work before they start assessing in earnest. This is an excellent learning activity. Students can see how complex learning can be made visible through the relevant assessment tasks - writing, lab work, presentations, projects, etc.

Planning self- and peer assessment

If you would like to use self- and peer assessment to enhance student learning, consider the following.

  • Devise assessment tasks which give students the opportunity to show that they have achieved intended learning outcomes;
  • Build in choice and drafting and redrafting following self- and peer assessment;
  • Self- and peer assessment can be applied to oral or filmed work, uploaded to a virtual learning environment such as Moodle, or done orally during face to face teaching sessions. Wikis provide a perfect forum for providing peer feedback, redrafting and creating web pages together.

Practical steps

  1. Write one or two learning outcomes for each assessed task so students know what learning they are demonstrating;
  2. Write assessment criteria for the task (or write them with your students) so students know what aspects of the work are being evaluated;
  3. Give students the chance to practise applying the criteria to short texts or video clips of presentations;
  4. Help them to provide constructive feedback.

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.


Guidelines

Target users

The unit provides a range of resources for anyone concerned with assessing students' work or providing feedback to learners in higher education. The materials can be used for private study or as a resource for workshops or other sessions on assessment. The advantages of learning with others are well-documented so we recommend discussion with colleagues and group study if this can be arranged.

Flexible approaches

There is some overlap in the materials. The aim has been to enable users to adopt a flexible approach according to their needs.

This unit has been designed so that users can select what is of interest. For instance, if your aim is to develop new ways of providing feedback to your students on their work, then you can go directly to the relevant section.

If you would like to develop your knowledge and expertise in a more general and comprehensive way, you may choose to work your way through the unit from the introduction to the conclusion, studying each section in numerical sequence.

Consider your own teaching, learning and assessment environment

It is important to relate the approaches suggested in this unit to your own practice and your students' learning. If you read the sections without thinking about your own situation as a teacher, it will be difficult to introduce any innovations which would be of benefit to you and your students.

You are invited to apply the ideas in the presentations and resources to your own courses. Opportunities to consider how this might be done are embedded in the materials. You may want to refer to examples of your current course materials, such as course or module handbooks, or recent exam papers or assessment criteria.

Obstacles to change and small-scale innovation

Teachers often complain that local regulations prevent them from changing approaches to assessment. However, small adjustments can have an impact on student learning. For example, a teacher recently complained that her students failed to demonstrate analytical ability in their exams. We discovered that subject-related analytical skills were not taught. Students got no feedback on analysis in preparation for the exam. The simple introduction of a brief session on analysis using exemplars of analytical texts resulted in a considerable improvement in the quality of students' papers.

Usefulness

We hope you will find many helpful approaches here and that you enjoy studying 'assessment and feedback to students'.

Licence

Creative Commons Licence
Assessment and feedback to students by Dr Rosalind Duhs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.





Contact us: cpd4he@ucl.ac.uk

Bookmark and Share
CPD4HE Banner Small