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Enhancing student learning through assessment: a school-wide approach Christine OLeary & Kiefer Lee Sheffield Business School.

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Presentation on theme: "Enhancing student learning through assessment: a school-wide approach Christine OLeary & Kiefer Lee Sheffield Business School."— Presentation transcript:

1 Enhancing student learning through assessment: a school-wide approach Christine OLeary & Kiefer Lee Sheffield Business School

2 The Changing Contexts Changing student population – diversity in background and learning needs Large student numbers - high student:staff ratio Technological changes – need to develop digital fluency Changes in University LTA focus Assessment identified as a most pressing area for development – existing practice not pleasing anyone Emphasis on active engagement of learners in assessment process, employability and learner autonomy Assume assessment for and as learning, as well as of learning

3 The Literature Review Three conditions for excellence in student learning (Cross, 1996): High expectations Student engagement Assessment and feedback Every act of assessment gives a message to students about what they should be learning and how they should go about it (Boud, 1995:37) One possible way of achieving it is to align the assessment methods to the teaching and learning outcomes…(Biggs, 2003) Assessment for learning is any assessment for which the first priority in its design and practice is to serve the purpose of promoting students learning through enhancing assessment processes and practice

4 The Project Embed the Assessment for Learning agenda into all courses at module level Strategic Aims: Change the assessment culture from focus on simply measuring performance to assessment at the heart of learning Ensure students are actively engaged in the process of assessment Develop use of self, peer and negotiated assessment Modernize assessment practices by encouraging use of new technologies The change agents: New University assessment regulations Programme Revalidation Assessment processes and technologies

5 The Method Collect data: Types used What is tested How they contribute to learning Impact on staff Diet across level Findings: Pockets of good practice/ innovation Predominance of certain traditional methods e.g. essays, exams. Phase One: Developing School-wide assessment principles (as part of revalidation) Emphasis on process as well as content, a balanced diet and strategies encouraging self, peer and timely tutor feedback. Phase Two: Creation of a School-wide implementation team comprising of relevant senior managers, administrative and academic leads. Phase Three: Raise awareness and engagement through workshops to actively engage staff in the process, share 'good practice', encourage dialogue and iron out any barriers, including admin procedures. Phase Four: Collect data on assessment practice for each module The assessment methods, relative weightings and feedback strategy. Phase Five: Conduct mapping of modules across level to ensure balance of assessment diet Information stored on a database. Consult module leaders and influence change in line with principles. Phase Six: Evaluation of Impact Faculty Roll-OutThe Pilot

6 Evaluation of Impact Changes in practice: 1st and 2nd Years All templates included some formative assessment e.g. portfolio-based assessment, online self- assessment, in- module retrieval and so on. The feedback strategy of all modules was clearly articulated and included peer/ self as well as tutor feedback where appropriate. Still limited innovation in some areas e.g. finance still keen on phase tests and exams but increased variety.

7 Evaluation of Impact Student learning and assessment experience Early indication of improvement of the student experience from module surveys/ reviews but remaining issues with group assessment and/or detailed feedback in some modules. Concerns expressed at Subject Boards that students may be tactical and may choose not to take some assessment tasks (not corroborated by specific evidence). Detailed / qualitative evaluation to be carried out in some modules in 2009/10.

8 Evaluation of Impact Student achievement especially in killer modules 51% of level 4 modules (33/64) showed an improvement in the first time pass rate, with a shift of 10% or above in 28% of cases between 07/08 and 08/09. 18% (17/86) of level 5 modules showed an improvement with only 0.04% indicating a shift of more than 10% in the same period. A particularly problematic statistical module at level 4 saw its pass rate increase by 47.45% (HND- 40 students) and 16.28% (BA-800 students). At level 4, 4 of the 5 highest levels of improvement in the first time pass rates were in financial and/or accounting modules.

9 Conclusion The increase in the pass rate at level 4 suggests that assessment for learning may help students in the transition to HE, with the opportunity for a range of feedback throughout the course. There is still a lot of work to do in the School around feedback, particularly in relation to students' expectations and engagement with a wide range of feedback mechanisms. The School-wide project has facilitated a more holistic approach to tackling assessment and feedback, with some early gains. It lays the ground for further development in this area, building on existing 'good' practice recorded in the form of case studies.

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