Equitable assessment of the practical component of scientific modules

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  • Should be titles moving laboratory work into the higher orders of the cognitive domain, in line with Blooms taxonomy of learning objectives
  • Written assessment methods favour students with good language and planning skills but can disadvantage some learners in particular anyone with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, those with English as a second language, auditory learners. Students with organisational difficulties can struggle when composing a written laboratory report. The originality of written reports can also be dubious and marks can be achieved which may not reflect a students competence or knowledge. Anti-plagerism software can minimise this possibility; however, students who spend excessive hours preparing written work can still achieve inordinately high marks relative to their competence.
  • Formal oral laboratory assessment exams can disadvantage students with poor auditory and language skills but is often preferred by auditory learners and students who have poor written skills. It can also be very challenging for students who suffer from anxiety.
  • Discuss difference between 2011 and other years: greater correlation – may be due to better teaching of the lab element in-classFavours reflective learners & good attenders?Low marks in lab exam for some 2010 students who did well in the module exam may reflect difficulties with the a stretching data interpretation question. A similar question was asked in 2011 lab exam but the theory was more comprehensively explained and discussed in-class.
  • A flexible range of laboratory assessments is a more inclusive approach. Some assessment methods for laboratory work not considered in this study include;The option of laboratory assessments through visual learning environments or multi media tools eg moodle quizzes facilitates visual learners and can be favoured by students with reading, writing and organisational difficulties. Other assessment options which cater for students with poor literacy skills and a global and visual learning style include the option of a mindmap as an alternative to a written laboratory report. Laboratory work is often performed in groups so some level of peer assessment which goes towards the overall practical mark is worthwhile if it can be conducted anonymously.A reflective journal completed throughout the semester can provide evidence of learning. It can again favour students with good written skills.A poster can be a very effective alternative to a laboratory report. The most inclusive assessment approach is to offer students multiple assessment methods throughout the module.
  • A flexible range of laboratory assessments is a more inclusive approach. Some assessment methods for laboratory work not considered in this study include;The option of laboratory assessments through visual learning environments or multi media tools eg moodle quizzes facilitates visual learners and can be favoured by students with reading, writing and organisational difficulties. Other assessment options which cater for students with poor literacy skills and a global and visual learning style include the option of a mindmap as an alternative to a written laboratory report. Laboratory work is often performed in groups so some level of peer assessment which goes towards the overall practical mark is worthwhile if it can be conducted anonymously.A reflective journal completed throughout the semester can provide evidence of learning. It can again favour students with good written skills.A poster can be a very effective alternative to a laboratory report. The most inclusive assessment approach is to offer students multiple assessment methods throughout the module.
  • Equitable assessment of the practical component of scientific modules

    1. 1. Darvree Downey and Maeve Scott Science Department Institute of Technology Tallaght 1
    2. 2. 2
    3. 3. Study• Background• ObjectivesModule• Descriptions• Delivery of practical elementMethod• Statistical methodsResultsConclusions 3
    4. 4. Laboratory Assessment ~ 35% of modulemarksLaboratory assessment aims to assessachievement of the practical-componentlearning outcomes.Changes have been introduced in laboratoryassessment practices in ITT in recent years. 4
    5. 5. Since the last programmatic review (in 2006) there isno failed element in any of the laboratory subjects inITT’S Science Department.Anecdotal belief that students are getting sufficientmarks to pass without achieving core learningoutcomes 5
    6. 6.  How does laboratory assessment equate with students achievements in other summative assessments within the same module? Is correlation with other forms of assessment indicative that the laboratory assessment is equitable? 6
    7. 7. Interpretation of Application of Use of analyticallegal requirements calculations and equipment or guidelines statistics Analysis, interpretation and Critical evaluation of Organisational skills application of resultspublished resources Meeting industry Time management needs 7
    8. 8.  The practical component of laboratory exams are designed to assess laboratory technique and equipment usage skills. Learning outcomes common to both theory (final module exam) and laboratory exams include organisational and time management skills and data analysis skills. 8
    9. 9. To determine if current laboratory assessment methods used for a range of scientific modules in ITT Dublin are1. Reliable indicators of a student’s ability to meet the overall module learning outcomes.2. Equitable for all learning styles 9
    10. 10. Students have diverse learning styles soassessment methods should vary for anequitable approach.Summative assessment methods should notdisadvantage any group of students. 10
    11. 11. The practical element of a course can beassessed a number of ways to determine thesame learning outcomes. All assessmentmethods have benefits and limitations. 11
    12. 12.  Suits students with good language and planning skills Can disadvantage some learners, in particular  Students with Dyslexia  Students for whom English is a second language  Auditory learners  Students with organisational difficulties Too much time spent writing reports at the expense of getting to grips with the subject matter (Race, 2006) 12
    13. 13. 1. Originality? ◦ Anti-plagiarism software2. High marks not necessarily reflective of laboratory competence ◦ Revision of marking schemes ◦ Introduction of practical lab exams ◦ In-class questions & observation 13
    14. 14.  Helping the students to think about the quality of their own work (Rust, 2005) Generation of internal feedback 14
    15. 15.  Formal oral laboratory assessment exams can disadvantage students with poor auditory and language skills Challenging for students who suffer from anxiety Preferred by auditory learners and students who have poor written skills. 15
    16. 16. Questioning of students during laboratorysessions can assess the preparation, depth oflearning and organisational skills.difficult to assess through other methods? 16
    17. 17. ◦ Students with poor language skills can have difficulties with providing articulate responses◦ Students with auditory problems can have comprehension difficulties.◦ Questions during laboratory work can add additional stress to students with poor organisational skills such as those with specific learning difficulties 17
    18. 18.  A chance to assess students’ laboratory technique and data analysis skills Should suit sensing learners Reflective learners can find practical skills assessment stressful Dyslexic students and students with other learning difficulties may not be given extra time/special consideration 18
    19. 19. 19
    20. 20.  4 modules: ◦ Systems Validation (Pharmaceutical Science, Semester 7) ◦ Scientific Analysis (Pharmaceutical Science, Semester 4) ◦ Biochemistry (Bioanalysis & DNA&Forensic Science, Semester 4) ◦ Principles of Biochemistry (Pharmaceutical Science, Semester 3) Final exam as marker of module competence Lab assessments methods as predictors Statistical analysis: Regression 20
    21. 21. 21
    22. 22. 22
    23. 23. Suggests need for failed element? 23
    24. 24. 24
    25. 25. 25
    26. 26. Suggestion of a ‘better teaching’ effect? More in-class timeAcademically spent on laboratorymore capable preparation &students? NO feedback? YES 26
    27. 27. 27
    28. 28. Laboratory assessment and module exams measure different learning outcomes but there is crossoverVery high correlation not expected Where there is very little correlation, it does suggest a disconnectIntuitive learners struggling withpractical skills? Sensing learners struggling to relate the theory to the practical? Are global learners losing out in the laboratory? 28
    29. 29. For ITT Re-instatement of failed element where applicable to ensure theory and practical learning outcomes are met Use of this type of analysis in all laboratory-based modules to highlight inconsistencies and measure the effects of year-on-year assessment changesGeneral Use the wealth of data available to highlight potential areas for improvement of summative assessment practices 29
    30. 30.  Measure how learning style affects summative assessment outcomes for laboratory-based modules Monitoring effects of new laboratory interventions on summative assessment outcomes 30
    31. 31. Broaden the range of lab assessmentmethods…..VLEs; Mindmaps; Reflective journals; Posters,Broaden use of questions in labs & oralassessments 31
    32. 32. Acknowledgement:Many thanks to James Reilly, ITT Dublin for his help andadvice on statistical methodologies 32

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