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Assessment and Feedback Principles Theory and Practice

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1 Assessment and Feedback Principles Theory and Practice
David Nicol Visiting Professor in Centre for Higher Education Practice University of Ulster Emeritus Professor: University of Strathclyde Website: reap.ac.uk Festival of Innovative Practice 18 June 2013 Magee Campus

2 Plan Background: Assessment and Feedback principles
Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP) project: University of Strathclyde Ulster’s principles: research basis and examples Dynamics of Implementation JISC-funded Viewpoints project (University of Ulster): the A&F design toolkit A principles-based discourse approach to institutional change.

3 REAP: Re-engineering Assessment Practices project
Scottish Funding Council (£1m): Goals: learning quality and teaching efficiencies 3 HEIs (Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian Business School, Glasgow University) Large 1st year classes ( students) Range of disciplines (19 modules ~6000 students) Many technologies: online tests, simulations, discussion boards, e-portfolios, e-voting, peer/feedback software, VLE, online-offline Outputs: new practices, institutional embedding Assessment for learner self-regulation

4 Barriers to transformational change in teaching and learning institution-wide
Lack of shared educational frame of reference to guide innovations in practice Difficulty defining good educational practice Isolation of academics from educational research Disciplinary differences in teaching and learning Weak links between local practices and educational policies and strategies Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in See Nicol & Draper (2009) Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

5 Background (1) Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C (2004)Conditions under which assessment supports students learning, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1, 3-31. See: Formative Assessment in Science Teaching (FAST) project at:

6 Gibbs and Simpson (2004) Assessment tasks [Conditions 1-4]
Capture enough study time (in and out of class) Are spread out evenly across timeline of study Lead to productive activity (deep vs surface) Communicate clear and high expectations i.e concern here is with ‘steers’ about how much work to do and the quality of what is done

7 Background (2) Literature Review
Nicol, D. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 34 (1), Nicol, D & Milligan, C. (2006), Rethinking technology-supported assessment practices in relation to the seven principles of good feedback practice. In C. Bryan & K. Clegg, Innovative assessment in higher education, Routledge. Background Student Enhanced Learning through Effective Feedback [SENLEF] project funded by HE Academy

8 Key aspects of research
Students are always engaged in self-assessment/ self-regulation of their own learning (Winne, 2005). The act of using teacher feedback implies that self-assessment must be present (Black and Wiliam, 1998). Feedback in HE is being reduced so how are students still learning. The question is: how can we scaffold students’ learning so they become better at self-regulation (Lajoie, 2005)

9 Rethinking assessment and feedback
1. Consider self and peers as much as the teacher as sources of assessment and feedback Tap into different qualities than teacher can provide Provides considerable learning benefits Better use of teacher time 2. Focus on every step of the cycle: Understanding the task criteria (Sadler, 1983) Applying what is learned in action 3. Not just written feedback: Also computer, dialogue, formal and informal

10 Seven principles of good A&F practice
Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). Facilitate the development of reflection and self-assessment in learning Deliver high quality feedback to students: that enables them to self-correct Encourage peer and student-teacher and peer dialogue around learning Encourage positive motivational beliefs & self esteem through assessment Provide opportunities to act on feedback Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape their teaching Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006)

11 Two meta-principles Meta-principle 1: time and effort on task (in and out of class (engagement) i.e. steers on how much work to do and when – Gibbs and Simpson 4 conditions Meta-principle 2: developing learner self-regulation (empowerment/self-regulation) i.e steers to encourage ownership of learning – the Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 7 principles.

12 Original Principles of Assessment and Feedback
Engagement Assessment tasks capture sufficient study time (in and out of class) Are spread out evenly across timeline of study Lead to productive activity (deep learning) Communicate clear and high expectations Gibbs and Simpson (2004) Empowerment Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). Facilitate the development of reflection and self-assessment in learning Deliver high quality feedback to students: that enables them to self-correct Encourage peer and student-teacher and peer dialogue around learning Encourage positive motivational beliefs & self esteem through assessment Provide opportunities to act on feedback Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape their teaching Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006)

13 The REAP project

14 Implementation Local redesigns
19 module redesigns: principles guided implementations Success: learning gains in exams (11 out of 19 modules) improved quality w/o extra costs, high levels of student satisfaction, efficiency gains. Institutional developments Dep. Principal T&L set up working group: new A&F policy (Strathclyde) grounded in principles agreed by Senate Principles embedded in QA procedures Many departmental/university initiatives referencing REAP and using the principles Sharing of good practice using principles as reference Widespread use of principles:nationally & internationally

15 Barriers to transformational change in teaching and learning institution-wide
Lack of shared educational frame of reference to guide innovations in practice Difficulty defining good educational practice Isolation of academics from educational research Disciplinary differences in teaching and learning Weak links between local practices and educational policies and strategies Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in See Nicol & Draper (2009) Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

16 Thinking behind REAP The vision – Assessment and Feedback should support the development of learner self-regulation A set of assessment & feedback principles based on research – to operationalise this vision Principles as translation device – to make the research accessible to busy academics Implementation strategy: REAP team supported course teams engaged in redesigns (i.e. application of A&F principles in modules and programmes and technologies) Evaluation of innovations to build institutional commitment Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

17 Addressing the barriers to change
Lack of shared frame of reference to guide innovations: the big idea and principles Difficulty defining good educational practice Isolation of academics from educational research: simplifying research into some key ideas Disciplinary differences – tight-loose structure of principles Weak links between local practices and educational policies and strategies – single set of educational ideas, tying each course design to policy framework Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

18 Good formative assessment and feedback practices should:
Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards) Encourage time an effort on challenging learning tasks Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct Provide opportunities to act on feedback Ensure that summative assessment supports formative learning processes Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer, t-st) Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of assessments. Involve students in decision making about assessment policy and practice Support the development of learning groups and communities Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape teaching

19 Principles of assessment and feedback for learning
Clarify good performance Help to clarify, from the early stages of a programme, what good performance means (goals, criteria, standards); Encourage time and effort on task Encourage 'time and effort' on challenging learning tasks, which recognise the importance of learning from the tasks, not just demonstrating learning through tasks; Deliver timely high quality feedback Deliver timely learner-related feedback information that helps students to self-correct and communicates clear, high, expectations and professionalism; Provide opportunities to act on feedback Provide opportunities for students to act on feedback and close any gap between current and desired performance through complementary and integrated curriculum design and pedagogic practice; Encourage positive motivational beliefs Ensure that all assessment has a beneficial, constructive, impact on student learning, encouraging positive motivational beliefs, confidence and self-esteem; Develop self-assessment and reflection Facilitate the development of self- and peer-assessment skills and reflection on learning, to enable students to progressively take more responsibility for their own learning, and to inspire a lifelong capacity to learn; Encourage interaction and dialogue Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning and professional practice (student-student, lecturer-student and lecturer-lecturer) including supporting the development of student learning groups and peer learning communities.

20 Good assessment and feedback practice should
Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). Teacher provides criteria before task insufficient Teachers provide a range of model answers Students derive criteria from exemplars before the task Students create criteria for new task Students compare own work against standards descriptors Students rank peer work in order of quality and discuss Students must develop a concept of quality

21 Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage time and effort on task Reduce size and increase number of learning tasks Give small number of marks for completion Provide tasks as out-of class homework activities that link to in-class activities (e.g. MCQs) Group tasks are important here (e.g. EVS) Create structures that promote ownership and effort

22 Good assessment and feedback practice should:
Delver timely high quality feedback: that helps students to self-correct Students request feedback they wish (cover sheet) Feedback on processes and skills – maximise transfer Don’t give feedback – point to resources where answer/issue can be elaborated Feedback on students’ self-assessments and/or peer reviews Calibrate students’ ability to make evaluative judgements (see Hattie and Timperley, 2007)

23 Good assessment and feedback should:
Provide opportunities to act on (respond to) feedback Students respond to teacher feedback in writing Sequence assignments so feedback is used Provide feedback as action points Students say how used feedback when submit next assignment [proforma] Reward use of feedback in a new task (Gunn, 2010) Ensures feedback is processed and leads to knowledge building. Key principle if your goal is to enhance NSS results

24 Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem Encourage climate of respect and accountability Sequence tasks for progressive level of difficulty Use real life (authentic) learning tasks Give learners choice in topic, methods, criteria Implement other principles (group working etc) Balance structure with increasing learner responsibility About giving students a sense of control over their learning

25 Good assessment and feedback should:
Develop self-assessment (and peer assessment skills) and reflection. Students identify what is strong and weak when they hand in an assignment Provide an abstract with an essay (reflection) Implement peer review where students’ comment on each other’s work (see Nicol, 2013: Nicol et al, 2013) then review their own work Give students practice in making evaluative judgements

26 Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer, student-lecturer, lecturer-lecturer) Electronic voting methods: polling and peer discussion Discussions of feedback in tutorials Peer review using pairs and groups Collaborative assignments Wrap dialogue around all assessment processes (Nicol, 2010) Attenuates teachers’ voice and strengthens students’ voice (shifts responsibility towards students)

27 Key focus of current research
Developing students’ capacity to make evaluative judgements about own and other’s work (Boud, 2013: Sadler, 2013: Nicol, 2013). Making judgements has not received enough attention in HE (Cowan, 2010) Evaluative capability underpins all graduate attributes (Nicol, 2009) Assessment in HE does not replicate what happens in professional practice Peer review – producing reviews is qualitatively different from receiving reviews (Nicol et al, 2013)

28 Questions and discussion

29 Bigger picture: learning from REAP
Principles-based approach has great potential People talked about and used the principles – an emerging discourse Widespread take-up of principles in UK and internationally – principles legacy more enduring than REAP innovations themselves Question: how to take things further forward so that the ideas and discourse spread more rapidly and deeply across the whole institution. Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

30 The JISC-funded Viewpoints project
Took the REAP assessment and feedback principles and put them ‘in the hands of the user’ The principles as a workshop tookit - prompts to think through an assessment and feedback design. The principles as ‘social objects’ to seed and sustain a new educational discourse. Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

31 Assessment and Feedback Principles
REAP (http://www.reap.ac.uk/) Clarify good performance. Encourage time and effort on task. Deliver high quality feedback. Provide opportunities to act on feedback. Encourage interaction and dialogue. Develop self-assessment and reflection. Give assessment choice. Encourage positive motivational beliefs. Inform and shape your teaching. *Implementation ideas for each principle on back of cards.

32 Viewpoints Assessment and Feedback workshop

33 The Artefacts:Timeline worksheet & Principles
Click to add notes

34 Discussing the objective
Course team agree the objective for their session and write it at the top of the module worksheet. Click to add notes

35 Reading the front of the cards
The team read the principles on the front of the cards, choosing ones appropriate to their objective. Click to add notes

36 Mapping the cards to the learner timeline
The team take their selected cards and map them to the appropriate point on the timeline (e.g. at the induction phase, during first few weeks of course) Click to add notes

37 Reading examples on cards
Workshop participants turn the cards over and read the examples/ideas on the back. Click to add notes

38 Choosing relevant examples
The team might select or adapt any examples that would fit with their course objective and their teaching practice. Click to add notes

39 Adding in own ideas/comments
The team produce their own examples, ideas, comments and use post-it notes develop their own assessment and feedback design. Click to add notes

40 Workshop outputs Form basis of an Assessment & Feedback (or other theme) strategy Provide reference for future course team discussions (planning resource) Key information will be transcribed into table (Word or other format)

41 Users/teams define the outputs
These can be orderly or messy – it’s up to you

42 Features of workshop discourse
Agenda set by participants (course teams) Peer interaction, discussion and sharing of ideas Concepts/examples on cards inform discussion (i.e. It is research informed) Principles call on each other in use Construct & co-construct meaning – not about telling Learner-focused not content focused Problem-focused yet exploratory and creative Structured by a timeline Socially engaging- like a board game Ideas extend beyond the workshop

43 Evaluation of REAP, Viewpoints and of other HE institutions that have used educational principles
Model of change extrapolated Principles-based discourse model Discourse shapes how people think about things and therefore how they act; and how people act and think about things shape their discourses. (Marshak and Grant, 2011) Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

44 Principles-based discourse model for change
Way of addressing change in complex organisations Discourse is not just about conversations but also about written texts, official documents, s, memos, stories, narratives, metaphors, slogans etc. Focuses on meaning-making and the social construction of reality About back-stage processes as much as front-stage events Focus is discourse as a driver for change not just as a symptom There are already discourses about assessment and feedback but are these educationally informed? Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

45

46 Extending the reach: many contexts of application
Many reference points and opportunities for discussion in other forums and contexts Facilitated by support services (LLL, TEL, Acad Practice Unit), staff induction, staff development, through revalidation & course review processes, and devolved to departments to meet their needs Links made when discussing other agendas – graduate attributes, employability etc. Through student initiatives Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

47 Embedding the discourse in documents and texts
In educational policy (Strathclyde, Ulster) In publicity materials for students and staff In reference documents – QAA procedures, audit, course approval and review, student evaluations, external examiners briefing docs, etc. As framework to comment on other educational innovations – linking language Interest in FA Summative A can undermine the value of fa e.g.

48 Some of my Publications
Nicol, D., Thomson, A. and Breslin, C (2013) Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, contact DN Nicol, D (2013), Resituating feedback from the reactive to the proactive. In D. Boud and L. Malloy (Eds) Effective Feedback in Higher and Professional Education: understanding it and doing it well, Routledge UK Nicol, D (2011) Developing students’ ability to construct feedback, QAA Scotland, Enhancement Themes. Available on Scottish Enhancement Themes website Nicol, D (2010) The foundation for graduate attributes: developing self-re gulation through self and peer assessment, QAA Scotland, Enhancement Themes. Available at: Nicol, D (2010) From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback in mass higher education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35:5, Nicol, D and Draper, S (2010), A blueprint for transformational organisational change in HE: REAP as a case study (see reap.ac.uk website) Nicol, D (2009), Transforming assessment and feedback: Enhancing integration and empowerment in the first year, Published by Quality Assurance Agency, Scotland Nicol, D (2009), Assessment for learner self-regulation: Enhancing achievement in the first year using learning technologies, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(3), Nicol, D (2007) E-assessment by design: using multiple-choice tests to good effect, Journal of Further and Higher Education.31(1), Nicol, D, J. & Macfarlane-Dick (2006), Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), See also for copies.


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