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National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 A move toward more authentic.

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Presentation on theme: "National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 A move toward more authentic."— Presentation transcript:

1 National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 National University of Singapore Teaching Academy May 20. 2016 A move toward more authentic learning and assessment in higher education Rick Glofcheski Faculty of Law University of Hong Kong 1

2 Why do we do what we do? How do we teach? How do we assess? What is the reason for current practices? 2 Is there an important connection between the teaching/learning of law, and assessment, that we are overlooking? Through reflection and discussion and drawing on our experience as teachers we can create a more meaningful and sustainable learning experience for our students Can the choice of these practices be pedagogically explained or justified? Do we follow them because they are familiar to us? Because our teachers used them?

3 Questions to consider Do current assessment practices serve learning goals very well? Does assessment have post-assessment learning value? Does it bear much relation to what graduates do in their careers? Can assessment be used more strategically to achieve more meaningful and sustainable learning? Can it be done in large law classes within existing resources? 3

4 Two Primary Functions of Assessment Summative: a judgment about student learning achievement – usually produces a grade or mark (is it accurate? What exactly is it that is being assessed?) 4 Formative: through feedback and application students’ understanding can improve (does it really work this way? Do students pay attention to feedback? Are there any opportunities for students to apply feedback?) A third function? Assessment for Learning: assessment strategically designed to elicit the right kind of learning; assessment that produces a learning opportunity. This can be achieved in different ways. 1 2 3

5 The Role of Assessment in Learning “Students can survive bad teaching but they cannot survive bad assessment” (Boud, 1995) 5 “Students learn what they think they will be tested on” (Biggs and Tang, 2011) “From our students’ point of view, assessment defines the actual curriculum” (Ramsden, 2003) “The goals proposed for learning…will be subverted if they are not supported by assessment methods that reinforce those learning objectives” (Redmond-Roper, 2001) “If we wish to discover the truth about an educational system, we must look into its assessment procedures” (Rowntree, 1987)

6 How Law is Taught and Learned Students read case reports written by judges, and textbooks/journal articles In lectures, cases are subjected to a critical reading by the teacher, to uncover their meaning and their contradictions internally and across the body of case law. Students take notes. This is a model adopted by teachers from their own teachers, perpetuating the same method over the generations, and meets the expectations of the profession. This is a model premised on the notion of knowledge transfer: the lecturer transmits knowledge which students are required to master and reproduce/apply on final examinations 6

7 Plus a change? “I suspect that if Professor Langdell walked into a contemporary law school in the US or Australia…he would feel right at home. Although the elective programs at modern law schools have expanded enormously and become ever more specialized, and clinical electives are now available, the nature of the core curriculum, the dominance of doctrine, and the basic approach to pedagogy have changed very little.” Kift (2003) 7

8 How Law is Assessed - There are now multiple possibilities, but assessment still takes place largely by way of examination, often consisting of a series of hypothetical narratives created by the teacher - Typical student practice is to become familiar with all the cases, even by name, and then practice writing answers to the kinds of questions typically set by that teacher; this can involve anticipating the questions based on past papers and clues dropped by the teacher, followed by intense revision in the lead-up to the examination. In this model student effort is not spaced throughout the year. - However much a critical understanding of the legal principles is essential in becoming a good lawyer, the learning and assessment activities bear little resemblance to the tasks to be undertaken post- graduation. 8

9 Survey-based Study on How Law Students Learn (2006): Focus – What the Students said 9 Moreover, many students reported that most of their learning is soon forgotten “its not relevant to examinations which don’t require deep understanding, just need to know what the teacher wants”

10 Assessment and real-world relevance Neither the learning methods and context nor the assessment bear resemblance to the sorts of tasks typically presented in professional practice. There is little if any attempt to align learning and assessment with the skills and attributes required in real-life settings. 10

11 Student focus is on mastering this format. 11 Most law examinations typically consist of a series of teacher-designed neatly-sequenced events covering a range of legal subject matter. In the aggregate the sequence is both improbable and unrealistic.

12 Ben was driving a coach full of rugby supporters to the Rugby Sevens Tournament in Causeway Bay. Just as he was reaching to answer his cell phone, Tom, a five year-old boy, stepped into the road in front of the coach to retrieve his football. Ben applied the brakes and swerved but crashed into Tom, who was seriously injured. James was working on scaffolding nearby and when he saw the coach swerve out of control he jumped from the scaffolding and was injured when he fell to the ground. In fact, the coach missed the scaffolding, and finally crashed into Michael’s street-front restaurant. The collision caused the gas cooker in the restaurant to explode. The shop was damaged and Michael suffered burns to his body. He also suffered lost profits as a result of the closure of his restaurant for 2 months of repairs. The coach passengers were uninjured, but Mary, a front row passenger, now suffers psychiatric injury. 12

13 Survey of Tort Teachers’ Examination Practices Summary of 22 replies: heavily weighted final examinations (69.3% of the course) consisting mainly of complex problem questions (79% of the questions) consisting mainly of fictional problems (18/22) designed to achieve coverage of issues (22/22) limited or no choice of question in the examination (13/21) exaggerated fact patterns not likely to happen (12/21) 13

14 We know that student learning practices are driven by the form of the assessments, so… what sort of learning practices will this kind of assessment encourage? 14

15 Some problems with the hypothetical problem They are recognizable as hypothetical, ie they are often exaggerated and in the sequences presented bear only limited resemblance to the world of real events They are teacher-invented, and carry the expectation of a pre- conceived solution which the students must uncover Students may focus on what the teacher was thinking rather than the problem itself They are not very conducive to identification and discussion of social policy issues They may distance students from the social policy context, that legal problems are puzzles to be solved, rather than real problems suffered by real people, a concern expressed by the authors of the Carnegie Report in the third of its five Key Observations: http://archive.carnegiefoundation.org/pdfs/elibrary/elibrary_pdf_632.pd f http://archive.carnegiefoundation.org/pdfs/elibrary/elibrary_pdf_632.pd f 15

16 Authentic Learning and Assessment “The tasks that students perform are arguably the most crucial aspect of the design of any learning environment. Ideally such tasks should comprise ill-defined activities that have real-world relevance…”. Herrington (2005) “The raison d’etre of a higher education is that it provides a foundation on which a lifetime of learning in work and other social settings can be built. Whatever else it achieves, it must equip students to learn beyond the academy, once the infrastructures of teachers, courses and formal assessment is no longer available.” Boud and Falchikov (2006) 16

17 News reports as learning and assessment tools Characteristics of news reports: - The material is realistic, authentic and relevant to the community. - It is generally complex, requiring multiple perspectives in analysis, including social policy - The material is often factually incomplete, thereby mimicking a realistic professional scenario - Its authenticity and relevance can foster a more serious approach to analysis and develop the habit of spotting issues in unflagged situations - It fosters good reading habits 17

18 1. Examinations, Assignments and Tutorials Consistent usage, following the principle of constructive alignment (show examples, including exams, tests and OLO tutorial) Alignment of assessment and learning 18

19 Survey: administered by Eddie Leung, Nov 30 – Dec 2, 2010 For Qs 1-5 please answer Yes or No. 4. Do you find that test and tutorial problems based on real-life events as reported in the media provide a better learning experience than problems that are invented by the teacher? yes = 100 (88.5%); no = 13 (11.5%) 5. Do you find that the use of test and tutorial problems based on real-life events helps develop your skill of identifying and understanding tort issues independently, in unflagged situations, such as when reading newspaper articles and news websites, or in your daily experiences? yes = 109 (96.46%); no = 4 (3.54%) 6. Any other comments? See next slide. 19

20 Using real-life events as tutorial problems makes me feel that the subject can really relate to our daily lives. Since those problems invented by teachers often give me the feeling that they are too "tailor-made" in accordance with the chapters taught. Now when I read the newspapers I would think more about what tort issues can be brought about from it. Using real-life events as questions sometimes make it more difficult, but it seems more relevant to our life long learning. Very useful session to reinforce understanding of and gain insights into the law. It helps me better understand how to apply the law to new situations. 20

21 Although a real-life event makes the whole course more practical, it increases the variety of answers which could be given based on the uncontrolled amount of facts in the news. Sometimes, a deep analysis would be needed to justify some unique views on the unique facts of the case, raise some less prominent cases in support. This would need time, and 50 minutes is only barely enough for application of general legal principles. The short time renders analyses shallow and students are unable to develop their own views to various conflicts in the law. I think that more time should be allowed for the test, especially when the problem is a real life example, where the facts pattern may contain more complexities and not that straight forward. More time should be given to students to think about different issues and explore into some side issues and uncommon ones. 21

22 Problems 1. Are coverage concerns sufficiently addressed? 2. Is there sufficient material in the media? 3. Will students be able to anticipate questions? 22

23 References Biggs, J., and Tang, C., Teaching for Quality Learning at University (Open University Press, 4th edn, 2011) Ramsden, P. Learning to teach in higher education (London & New York: Routledge Falmer, 20030 Rowntree, D. (1987). Assessing students: how shall we know them? London: Kogan Page Boud, D. (1995) Enhancing Learning through Self Assessment London, Kogan Page Kift, S. First Year Renewal to Engage Learners in Law, 7th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference (2003) Herrington, J., and Herrington, T., Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education (Information Science Publishing, 2005) Boud, D., and Falchikov, N., Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education: Learning for the Longer Term (Routledge, 2007) 23


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