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Students learn to produce outputs – assessments directed at an audience: Dimension five

Are some assessments outward facing, directed at an identified audience, giving students a voice beyond the class, engaging a public beyond the marker?

Through some of the work they produce for the purpose of being assessed, students can engage explicitly with external audiences. Some of their assessments can become, in effect, ‘outputs’ from their research and enquiry, which mirror those produced by researchers. 

Output modes are selected to be appropriate to the audience (e.g. videos, group presentations, articles, blogs, posters or essays etc).

The work that students produce should vary in form across the programme, enabling them to develop the digital practices and communication skills needed to engage with diverse audiences. 

Ideally, some of their work will even be developed in partnership with local or wider communities – whether in person or online – and make a meaningful contribution to society. 

Students are engaged as partners in co-developing assessment activities with external audiences. They undertake multiple assessment activities directed at external audiences, using them to communicate the depth, breadth and applications of their intellectual enquiry.

They are able to produce peer-reviewed ‘outputs’ and research data, both in collaboration and independently, which inform and engage audiences effectively. Students have a sophisticated knowledge of the complexity and diversity of audiences.

Students will have opportunities to practice completing these diverse forms of assessment, with formative feedback.

Where to start: asking questions of your programme of study

  1. Are some student assessments outward- facing, directed at an audience, thereby enabling them to connect with local and/ or wider communities (whether online or face-to-face)?
  2. Are student assessments across the programme suitably varied, enabling them to develop a range of skills including expertise in digital practices and communications?
  3. Can students demonstrate an ability to use a range of digital media effectively, as well as different modes of writing, visual & oral communication?
  4. Are students required to revisit and use feedback on their tasks, both formative and summative, in order to improve their work?
  5. Are students exposed to digital methods for assessment such as web pages, blogs, podcasts, videos and the like with the potential of reaching an external audience?
  6. Are there opportunities for students to draw on the themes of inclusion and diversity through their assessment work?

Don’t forget: It’s important to consider all dimensions of the Connected Curriculum across all years of study – a holistic view across a programme. 

Top tips for implementation

Chapter 7: Outward-facing student assessments in A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education (Dilly Fung 2017), see particularly page 108 on Showcase Portfolios.

  • Curating connections in the art history curriculum, Chapter seven (page 106) in Developing the Higher Education Curriculum (Carnell & Fung), also has some good examples.
  • Students are very motivated by this dimension: consider hosting a special Staff-Student Consultative Committee (SSCC) to ask students how their assessments could be improved to engage an audience.
  • Encourage your students to aspire to be part of Posters in Parliament – an opportunity to develop their public engagement and research poster production skills.
  • Make sure your students can develop their digital skills: see the Digital Skills Development training available for staff and students.
  • Book a bespoke ABC curriculum design workshop to design/redesign programmes and modules that helps you plan to fully incorporate the dimensions.

Get advice and support by contacting the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education at arenacentre@ucl.ac.uk.

Examples of this dimension in action

Below are case study highlights, with more coming soon.