The first year experience of assessment


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Slides for the presentation by Alison Bone (University of Brighton) at LILAC10

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The first year experience of assessment

  1. 1. The first year experience of assessment Alison Bone University of Brighton 29 January 2010
  2. 2. The first year experience <ul><li>Transition to UG study has been the focus of several research projects eg Kift 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Bone 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>One of the key aspects of such transition is the assessment - often in a form that is new to students </li></ul><ul><li>A recent survey of law students indicates that they DO learn material even if they are not going to be assessed on it Bone 2010 but lecturers may doubt the validity of this…. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Brighton L and T Fellowship Award <ul><li>Awarded for study in 2009-10 of first year assessment in Brighton Business School </li></ul><ul><li>First stage consists of an assessment audit of all first year modules, followed by interviews with teaching staff and student focus groups </li></ul><ul><li>LLB (Law with Business) done first </li></ul>
  4. 4. 21st century students <ul><li>It's a new world out there.... </li></ul><ul><li>So what do we ask them to do? </li></ul><ul><li>- google search and report back in class? </li></ul><ul><li>- create internet page? </li></ul><ul><li>- make/take video? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Assessment on LLB Year 1 <ul><li>Students study six modules: </li></ul><ul><li>Legal and Academic Skills : variety – first piece is case report </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Institutions and Method : variety – another case report and an essay plus an online debate </li></ul><ul><li>Economics : essay </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Financial Information : analytical report (group and individual) </li></ul><ul><li>Public Law : essay (plus e-learning) </li></ul><ul><li>Tort : problem (essay) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why do tutors assess this way? <ul><li>“ The purpose of the assignment is to assess their subject knowledge - they should already have the [writing] skills” (Public Law Essay) </li></ul><ul><li>“ I always set a problem to develop their problem-solving skills - it’s quite a complex one - and they do better in the problem questions in the exams. But of course I don’t know if this has anything to do with the fact they have a problem for their assignment. I think many students just prefer to tackle problems” (Tort Law problem) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Rationale <ul><li>“ I was told to set an essay - that’s what they do in Economics….” </li></ul><ul><li>“ There’s a good variety of tasks that test all the aspects but it is so bitty and very time-consuming…I inherited this. The timing is not very good” (Legal and Academic Skills) </li></ul><ul><li>“ There’s such a lot to do that group work means they can cover everything – I’m not sure if they do any other group assignments in Year 1” (Understanding Financial Information) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Preliminary findings <ul><li>Good range of varied assessment tasks in Legal and Academic Skills and Legal Institutions and Method but very time-consuming. Two case reports for two different subjects (LAS and LIM) </li></ul><ul><li>Blended learning provides opportunities for formative assessment in Public Law </li></ul><ul><li>Timing not all it could be – students don’t get feedback on first case report until they’ve submitted their second one but so much pressure during first term </li></ul>
  9. 9. Views of the students <ul><li>Small sample only from three out of four seminar groups (total =7) </li></ul><ul><li>Very happy to talk but may not be representative </li></ul><ul><li>More focus groups will be held towards the end of the year </li></ul>
  10. 10. “ Timing could be better” <ul><li>NSS shows that Assessment and Feedback usually receive the lowest scores although Brighton does better than average (and this is based on Year 3) </li></ul><ul><li>No formal feedback/mark until end of Autumn term – receive feedback on case report after hand-in date of essay on judicial precedent </li></ul><ul><li>“ I made the same mistakes twice with my referencing because I wasn’t told I was doing it wrong until too late” </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ Law assessments have helped my learning” <ul><li>“ Case report helped my research skills and I built on this for my (LIM) precedent essay” </li></ul><ul><li>“ By the time I get round to doing my Public Law essay I should know how to reference properly” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I understood much more about how precedent worked after doing my LIM essay” </li></ul>
  12. 12. And the other subjects? <ul><li>“ Economics essay quite straightforward” </li></ul><ul><li>“ UFI is not easy and working in groups is a challenge – but the assignment makes sense” </li></ul>
  13. 13. So overall? <ul><li>“ My research skills have definitely improved and I feel more confident now about how to put an argument together” </li></ul><ul><li>“ My referencing is getting better” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Time management is still an issue – we have three big assignments due in in three weeks” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Anything else? <ul><li>“ We don’t get pushed enough in seminars – lots of people don’t do any work at all” </li></ul><ul><li>“ We want some positive feedback too! One lecturer shouted at us and told us all the things we’d done wrong [in our essay] – it was demotivating” </li></ul>
  15. 15. Some ideas? <ul><li>A wider variety of assessment tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Presentations in first term? </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-modular assessment (shock horror!) </li></ul><ul><li>Wider use of discussion boards for seminar preparation/participation </li></ul><ul><li>How can we get students to value their learning opportunities? </li></ul>
  16. 16. References <ul><li>Sally Kift (2009) ‘Articulating a transition pedagogy to scaffold and enhance the first year student learning experience in Australian higher education’ </li></ul><ul><li>,%20Sally%20ALTC%20Senior%20Fellowship%20Report%20Sep%2009.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>Alison Bone (2009) ‘Facing the challenges of legal education while engaging the learner’ </li></ul><ul><li>(2009) ‘The 21 st century law student’ The Law Teacher Vol 43 (3) </li></ul>