Simon Housego 2008

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Simon Housego 2008

  1. 1. Sowing the seeds Observations & opportunities Observations & opportunities Observations & opportunities <ul><li>Simon Housego </li></ul><ul><li>IML, UTS </li></ul>
  2. 2. The puzzle <ul><li>If engaging students in assessment is a useful thing to do, why do we see so little evidence of it in practice? </li></ul><ul><li>What can we do about it? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Clarifications <ul><li>by &quot;Engaging students in assessment&quot; I mean in the general sense that Falchikov (2005) uses it, encompassing – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>development of self-, and peer-assessment capability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>improved understanding of assessment criteria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>increased responsibility, learner autonomy, and so on... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>My claims for limited takeup are based on conversations about assessment practices with many teachers at UTS over the last 10 years. </li></ul><ul><li>I am not aware of any research quantifying the extent of assessment practices of this kind. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Possible explanations, 1 <ul><li>Decisions about assessment are commonly left to the teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A common view of assessment is that it follows content, so when &quot;content is king&quot; the focus is on getting the content right... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With little or no overlap in content between courses there is no perceived need to coordinate the nature of assessment activities across courses (except, perhaps, to avoid timing clashes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Little or no expectations of a collective approach involving colleagues when making choices about assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Administrative concerns often constrain possibilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Availability of markers, time, need for quick turnaround </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concerns about cheating result in certain types of assessment being favoured over other, possibly more authentic, approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>'Robust', objective assessment (think MCQs) rather than more open, subjective, reflective approaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>focus on summative over formative assessment </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Possible explanations, 2 <ul><li>Teachers don't know how to engage students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited knowledge of possible assessment practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding space within exisiting structure - in addition to, not instead of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If assessment is primarily about judgement, then only the teacher can do this ... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Departmental cultures & practices might be antipathetic to changes of this nature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teachers don't know why they should engage their students in assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aren't students already engaged? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it isn't broken then why does it need fixing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fragmented understanding of the crucial role of formative assessment </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Another piece in the puzzle
  7. 7. Graduate Attributes <ul><li>Claims about the knowledge, skills & attributes that an institution makes for its graduates. </li></ul><ul><li>Example </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to acquire, develop, employ and integrate a range of technical, practical and professional skills, in appropriate and ethical ways within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively and across a range of disciplinary and professional areas. </li></ul><ul><li>The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts that is based on the ability to make effective judgments about one’s own work. The capacity to learn in and from new disciplines to enhance the application of scientific knowledge and skills in professional contexts. </li></ul><ul><li>excerpted from UTS:Science GAs </li></ul>
  8. 8. Observations about GAs <ul><li>GAs go beyond disciplinary knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>They encourage a shift in viewpoint towards the student and away from the teacher </li></ul><ul><li>Unless they are assessed they are just rhetoric </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge of integration when added or retrofitted to existing programs </li></ul><ul><li>They may require a developmental approach, with trajectories longer than the standard semester cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Developmental approaches need a formative, not just summative, perspective </li></ul>
  9. 9. The connection <ul><li>Graduate attributes are about </li></ul><ul><ul><li>developing learner autonomy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the ability to make complex judgements about one's own work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Boud's Sustainable assessment is a useful framework for consideration of these issues </li></ul><ul><li>The assessment approaches needed for the development of GAs are ones that engage students in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>taking more responsibility for their learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>making judgements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dealing with uncertainty, subjectivity, complexity... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sound familiar? </li></ul>
  10. 10. One way to approach the challenge of engaging students in assessment
  11. 11. A strategic approach <ul><li>Taking a whole-of-program view </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A wider view of the nature & suitability of assessment activities across a program to ensure that gaps are identified and filled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring (enforcing?) variation of activities to support developmental trajectories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A shift from summative, towards formative assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires cooperation between course coordinators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>giving up content to allow for development of a GA </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>reduce duplication </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>identify over-assessment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>When could a strategic approach be taken? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of new programs, reaccreditation, in-situ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mid-cycle, revamping </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. To succeed <ul><li>Leadership - to persuade colleagues of the need </li></ul><ul><li>Time and space for teachers to develop understanding of the changes needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New ideas about assessment take time to take on </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A shared agreement of what needs to be done </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a program level matrix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>duplication, over-assessment, gaps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Buy-in by those being asked to take on changes </li></ul>
  13. 13. But <ul><li>Sometimes the opportunity afforded by program reviews is missed because the focus of the review is on getting the content right </li></ul><ul><li>What incentives are there for teachers, secure in their subject silos, to engage in change when they are being pressed to lift research outputs? </li></ul><ul><li>What chance of success when GAs are seen as 'in addition to' rather than 'instead of' (some) content? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Where does this lead us?
  15. 15. An observation <ul><li>Accreditation processes are growing teeth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AUQA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing interest in seeing evidence that GAs are being acquired </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How will this be gathered? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maturing of assesment vehicles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ePortfolios that support & sustain developmental trajectories greater than a single semester </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>General acceptance of the worth of GAs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No longer a question of 'Why?', so much as 'How?' </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Lots of scope for localised responses <ul><li>A need to develop teachers' understanding of what it means to engage students in assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Small examples to learn with </li></ul><ul><li>A need to do something about GAs, now </li></ul><ul><ul><li>teachers often struggle to come up with a meaningful way to address, and assess, GAs in their course </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lots of examples in Falchikov 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Isolated take-up won't achieve the strategic transformation required but it can prepare the ground for the next accreditation cycle by sowing the seeds of understanding </li></ul>
  17. 17. A local response (Rust, et al. 2003) <ul><li>Much formative feedback is wasted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not timely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not understood </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can't be applied </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rust - Understanding assessment criteria </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opt-in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unpacking meaning, discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice in applying criteria to example work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Result: </li></ul><ul><li>A significant improvement in the ability to understand and apply assessment criteria </li></ul>
  18. 18. Unpacking this <ul><li>Students developing the ability to make judgements about their own work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>engaging in self- and peer- assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More complex, subjective task </li></ul><ul><li>Students active in doing, not passive in getting </li></ul><ul><li>Assessing a GA - Lifelong learning skill </li></ul><ul><li>Improved learning outcomes for student </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced marking load for teacher because the key work of feedback has already been done </li></ul><ul><ul><li>consider skipping feedback for opt-outs </li></ul></ul>
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