Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Aim higher?

So my final year group are currently planning their student led learning activities. I am enjoying the process of negotiating with them about their topics - ensuring a good spread so that the curriculum is covered but allowing for personal preferences and interests to direct the process.

Yesterday I tried out a new approach to developing the assessment criteria for the presentations - by getting them to contribute to writing them. I have toyed with doing this for some time but been put off by the complexity - especially when working with a large group.

Here's what I did. In preparation I created a blank spreadsheet listing the learning outcomes for the module and suggesting four key areas that might be relevant for this assignment: communication and IT skills; research; Academic Skills (such as referencing) and collaborative teamwork.

On the spreadsheet I gave them the core descriptors for each grade band (as prescribed by the University) to indicate the spread from Exceptional First to Fail.

Then, in small groups they worked to come up with descriptors for specified outcomes at specified levels:  Communication Skills - First and Fail;  Academic skills: 2:1 and 3rd etc

At the end of the exercise I collected in their descriptors and used these to construct the finished assessment feedback sheet.

In truth this wasn't radically different from grading matrices used elsewhere on the course (which is good because it demonstrates that they have engaged with those!). Most interesting was the discussions we had on differentiating between a 2:1 and a first: most tend to think that if they tick the boxes then they should get a first whereas the assessment model used in this University would say that a first is beyond what would normally be expected. This is a useful point to try and get across, especially for final year students who are hoping for those important higher degree classifications, and this is perhaps a good time to be reminding them of the standards for the level to which they aspire.

Peer evaluation is also built into the process and the next phase will be to work with the students on designing an evaluation questionnaire which they will distribute following their sessions.The final step is to use the assessment criteria to create a self-evaluation of their own work.

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