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From Outcomes to Outputs: Shifting the Culture of Assessment in the 21st Century Learning Environment Dr Gordon Heggie Dr Neil McPherson

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Presentation on theme: "From Outcomes to Outputs: Shifting the Culture of Assessment in the 21st Century Learning Environment Dr Gordon Heggie Dr Neil McPherson"— Presentation transcript:

1 From Outcomes to Outputs: Shifting the Culture of Assessment in the 21st Century Learning Environment Dr Gordon Heggie Dr Neil McPherson Higher Education Academy/Pedagogic Research Institute & Observatory Inclusive Assessment in Practice Conference University of Plymouth, 24 November 2014 School of Media, Culture & Society University of the West of Scotland

2 Context “Engaging students in the process of research and of creating resources does far more than simply enhancing the learning experience. It also develops valuable skills for life – while improving research outcomes too” (Jisc Inform, 37: 14 – Open Lives Project) Our focus: To link active, inquiry-based learning with the production of editable, re- usable, re-purposable learning objects Our approach: Introducing Xerte as a mode of summative assessment on an interdisciplinary research-based module on BA Social Science programme (Year 3/Level 9)

3 Rethinking & reconfiguring learning, teaching & assessment – external and internal drivers Considering ‘research-type’ graduate attributes/embracing uncertainty, unpredictability, super-complexitity Learning in ‘research mode’ / developing ‘research mindedness’ Engaging students as producers of knowledge Growing potential of Xerte Context

4 Heggie & McPherson, 2014 “Undergraduate education…requires renewed emphasis on a point strongly made by John Dewey almost a century ago: learning is based on discovery guided by mentoring rather than on the transmission of information” Boyer Commission 1998: 15 Context

5 How did we do it? Participatory pedagogy developed from learning in partnership model Supported through ambassador/champion framework Framework of formative engagement supporting summative assessment From outcomes to outputs, shifting the culture of assessment Learning outcomes Quality assurance Structure learning Provide measure of performance However Prescriptive Restrictive Dampen creativity Learning outputs Open to creativity Support originality Builds on the work of others Encourages critique Open ended (See Neary, 2010)

6 Xerte is a free open source authoring tool that allows users to produce interactive learning objects underpinned by the principles of inclusivity and accessibility See Xerte Homepage at Why Xerte? Heggie & McPherson, 2014

7 Our reflections Disruption of ‘normal’ learning, teaching & assessment practice Embraced uncertainty & ‘failure’ (together) Enabled self direction & authentic experience Integrated negotiated learning & engaged leadership (learners as teachers) Personal development, lifelong learning & employability “the purposes of open-ended exploration could be puzzling and unsettling to students who held strongly reproductive conceptions of learning” (Levy & Petrulis 2012: 96)

8 How did we navigate the challenges of inquiry-based learning and new methods of assessment? We formed collaborative and inclusive learning communities From the outset, I was apprehensive as to be honest it looked a bit daunting; as I had never and like most of the class done anything like this before. However, as it went on there was a sense of lets work together, giving us a sense of control and ownership over our learning plus the fact we were all sort of in the same boat, as we the students were learning just as much as the lecturers and we were all learning together

9 How did we navigate the shift from outcomes to outputs? We engaged in co-creation and creativity At first, I wasn’t interested in this module. The reason for this is because I’m not a person who verbalises, I’m more of a creative, artistic person. I view life in shapes, colours and objects, not in words. Art is my style of writing. Throughout this module, the lecturers deliberately gave a reduced amount of guidance in order to encourage creativity and this definitely encouraged me to use my creative skills and critical thinking

10 Can students act as ‘change agents’ in reshaping the learning and assessment landscape? I only found it scary because I was introduced to this way of learning so late in to my degree - do it earlier!!! It facilitates learning. That's all I need in a teaching style, and the current system fails at that Should be implemented more as it allows the experience of university education to be more stimulating, interactive and therefore more enriching Personally I think students taking ownership of their learning and becoming co- creators of their own learning experience has to be the future of Higher Education in Scotland

11 Generation X: learning in partnership with Xerte

12 References Boyer Commision (1998) Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities. Stony Brook: State University of New York at Stony Brook Levy P & Petrulis R (2012) How do first-year university students experience inquiry and research, and what are the implications for inquiry-based learning?. Studies in Higher Education, 37(1): Neary, M (2010) Student as producer: Research engaged teaching and learning at the University of Lincoln User’s Guide Lincoln: University of Lincoln Dr Gordon Heggie Dr Neil McPherson


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