Presentation on theme: "Assessment and feedback in university teaching"— Presentation transcript:
1 Assessment and feedback in university teaching Kieron Flanagan
2 Outline The nature of university teaching Purposes of assessment Types of and routes for feedbackPlagiarism
3 What is university teaching for? We teach our students things (“subject knowledge and understanding”)However, in the course of learning those things they should also develop a range of skillsStudents tend to forget about the latter
4 A university education should encourage students to build… Subject-specific skills (e.g. accounting conventions, techniques)General (transferrable) skillsGeneral critical thinking and analytical skills
5 General (transferrable) skills Team-workingTime/task managementActive reading and active listeningCritical thinkingDocument preparationCommunication skills (oral/written)&c.
6 Critical thinking and analytical skills These are the skills necessary to analyse information, weigh up evidence and arguments, draw (own) conclusions and justify themWe shouldn’t let our students think that these are just obscure or useless scholarly skillsTypically these are the skills most employers are looking for from graduates
7 Critical thinking skills… Of course they are also the skills that will get them good marks…What does critical thinking mean in practice?
8 Critical thinkingCritical thinking means thinking about the positions taken by authors, about the validity of their evidence, the strengths of their argumentsThis includes the student being critical (critically appraising and reflecting upon) their own stanceClearly, it does not mean blindly criticising everything – it is an informed process
9 Critical thinking FAQs Q: How can I be critical of academic experts or people in important positions? They know more than I do…A: We are trying to develop critical skills…They may be biased in some wayThey may have ignored important evidenceThey may have overdone their conclusionsQ: But isn’t it disrespectful to criticise your teachers?A: If a student disagrees with us but backs up their argument with evidence then we will always give them credit for it!
10 Uncritical thinking is… Accepting (and repeating) the arguments of authors - or lecturers/tutors - without questionPutting forward own personal views without reflecting critically upon them, or otherwise taking a position without explaining why
11 Evidence of uncritical thinking… Stating in assessed work that something is ‘obvious’ or ‘clearly correct’ without providing an explanationRegurgitating lecture notes in assessed workBasing assessed work entirely on one or two readings (or on the results of a Google or Wikipedia search)
12 We expect our students to take responsibility for their own learning The style of learning that takes place at a university is very different from school or college. It is largely self-directed (i.e. most of the learning is meant to be done outside contact time).Lectures are intended to guide this learning.Seminars are supposed to help students discuss what they are learning, and to receive feedback.We need to encourage students to develop an active learning style.
13 Active learning?Active listening in lectures (taking detailed notes, not relying on handouts)Taking an active part in seminars, the most important part of their contact time: taking notes, contributing, and listening actively and respectfully to othersMaking the time to do the necessary reading and preparation beforehand (this is part of the total study time)Reading actively: with a pencil, taking notes, not using a highlighter, not using a PC to cut-and-paste.Active reading can also be selective reading – use of abstracts, tables of contents, indices, introductions, summaries etc to help find and focus on what is important to the task in hand
14 If they don’t do these things? Seminar attendance is compulsory (poor attendance goes on their record and could potentially be reflected in the references we write for them)More importantly, lack of preparation or participation and lack of active learning will mean they are wasting their (and your) time in lectures and seminars…and that will lead them to FAIL….
15 How can students become more active learners? They need to understand their own attitudes to learningThey need to understand their own study and critical thinking skills (audit) and how they can be improved (guides, help)They need to practice! Encourage them to take advantage of their strengths and work on their weaknessesEncourage them to seek help and support (student guidance service, ELC, etc. etc.)
16 Purposes of assessment? The purpose of assessment is ultimately to demonstrate learning from the course (i.e. subject knowledge + skills)Assessment can have both formative (to build confidence & improve performance) and summative elementsSome assessment is mainly formative (e.g. practice essays, presentations)Some assessment is mainly summative (e.g. final exams)Mostly it is some mixture of the two…
17 Some Purposes of Feedback FORMATIVESUMMATIVETo encourage better work in the futureSubject knowledge and understandingTo correct errors of understanding (or of omission)SkillsTo identify strengths and weaknesses in skillsTo reward good workTo account for the grade givenTo help them understand the progress they are making in their programme
18 Some important considerations Validity – does assessment really measure the intended learning outcomes? Reliability – is assessment consistent from student to student, examiner to examiner? (Hence need for explicit learning outcomes, grading criteria, and for safeguards such as moderation)
19 FeedbackArguably, the UK system is historically biased towards summative assessmentStudents often (& sometimes fairly) complain about alack of timely and useful formative “feedback”However, it’s also crucial to address common student misconceptions about feedback…
20 FeedbackStudents tend to associate “feedback” with written comments on essays…This can tend to be rather brief and generic, and can use negative or inaccessible language which doesn’t work well as formative feedbackBut feedback comes via multiple routes and it is important to help the students to realise that
21 Multiple routes for feedback Informal advice and discussion during a lecture, seminar, workshop or lab. (For this, students need to participate!)Online exercises and quizzesResponses to your questions from a member of staff or tutor, including feedback provided via , to a group via an online discussion forum or via FAQsSpecific course related feedback sessionsWritten and/or verbal comments on assessed or non assessed coursework
22 Multiple routes for feedback Written and/or verbal comments after a group or individual presentationGeneric feedback posted on Blackboard regarding overall assessment performance (common problems, etc)Group and individual discussions/meetings with an Academic Advisor or with a Programme Director
23 What should students expect? It is MBS policy that feedback should be…PromptIndividualConstructiveRelated to progressionRelated to learning outcomes
24 What should students expect from tutors? Clarification and discussion of the lecturesThe opportunity to discuss the themes of the course in seminars, with the tutor and with each otherAdvice on prioritising their readingTimely feedback on essay plans etc. where appropriateContinuous informal feedback on their developing understanding of the subject (and on their developing skills) through seminar discussions, presentations &c and on demand
25 Approaches to feedback The Open University recommends the ‘feedback sandwich’start with the good thingsmove onto (constructive) criticismend on a positive note for future improvementFocus your feedback – be specific, relate feedback to learning outcomes and avoid unhelpful comments like “could do better”, “not a bad effort” &c.Structured versus less structured approaches
26 A few words about plagiarism… Despite warnings, lectures, etc. many of our students have a poor understanding of plagiarismExperience suggests this is often related to a poor understanding of good academic practices (and why they are important)Tutors have a crucial role in reinforcing positive messages here…
27 A few words about plagiarism… We should encourage our students to:Develop their critical thinking/reading skillsThink about what resources are appropriate/reliable (information literacy)Develop good note-taking practicesDevelop good referencing, quotation, citation practices
28 A few words about plagiarism… Individual assessment requires that students demonstrate their own learningThey must do this by critically appraising evidence, sources and by constructing their own argument to answer the questionAnd not by assembling an essay from quotations or close paraphrases of others’ arguments and conclusions
29 A few words about plagiarism… Plagiarism does attract serious (life-changing) penalties and MBS students are caught and disciplined!Tutors can play an important part in positively encouraging students to better understand the purposes of assessment, develop good practices - and avoid risky onesTutors can also look out for signs of personal problems, non-attendance etc. which are sometimes associated with plagiarism
30 Thank you for your attention! Questions? Feedback?