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Exploring assessment task design and implementation


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IAEA 2014 Singapore

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Exploring assessment task design and implementation

  1. 1. Exploring assessment task design and implementation David Carless IAEA, Singapore, May 2014 The University of Hong Kong
  2. 2. Overview  The nature of ‘good’ assessment tasks  Examples from five award-winning teachers in different disciplines  Exploring the ‘History’ case  Implications for assessment task design The University of Hong Kong
  3. 3. Aims of paper • To explore the nature of good assessment tasks in undergraduate education; • Through critically analyzing the practices of award-winning teachers The University of Hong Kong
  4. 4. Task design principles • Valid and reliableValid and reliable • Fair and transparentFair and transparent • Encourage deep approaches to learningEncourage deep approaches to learning • Distribute student effort evenly acrossDistribute student effort evenly across topics and weeks (Gibbs, 2006)topics and weeks (Gibbs, 2006) • Permit choicePermit choice • Be contextualised, authenticBe contextualised, authentic The University of Hong Kong
  5. 5. Task design issues • How many tasks for a module? • What mode of task(s)? • How much variety? • What kind of sequence, linkages and coherence? (cf. Boud et al, 2010) The University of Hong Kong
  6. 6. TASK DESIGN IN FIVE CASES BUSINESS: Promote dialogue GEOLOGY: Three tasks, including Group project and exam LAW: ‘Struggle’ against primacy of exams ARCHITECTURE: Portfolio of designs HISTORY: Three tasks, including a participation grade The University of Hong Kong
  7. 7. Context of History case • Making History: a first year foundation course taught with a diverse cohort of 110 students. • Aim for students to engage critically with representations of the past and interpret connections between the past and the present. The University of Hong Kong
  8. 8. History case Fieldwork report 30% Participation 30% - tutorial participation 15% - ‘one sentence response’ 15% Individual Project 40% (draft 10%; final 30%) The University of Hong Kong
  9. 9. Teacher rationale I want to get away from the orthodoxy of the essay and provide other ways of communicating, so students can showcase their ability to master discourses of history. … I provide choice because I want students to explore something that energizes them and they have a stake in it. The University of Hong Kong
  10. 10. Assessing participation I’ve moved towards the position that students would mainly see the relevance of what goes on in the class if it is assessed. I want classroom participation to be assessed and for students to feel they have a got a stake in what goes on. The University of Hong Kong
  11. 11. ‘One sentence response’ (OSR) In each lecture of the course, students complete a short handwritten response to an issue. Examples: - Describe your fondest memory. Explain your choice. - Is history a science or an art? Explain your answer. The University of Hong Kong
  12. 12. Teacher rationale for OSR I want to assess their learning experience during classroom time and keep ‘bums on seats’: provide an incentive for attendance. I am a firm believer in the value of short written exercises. I think it is a great way of honing their communication skills; after all we live in an age of Twitter and students rarely have call to write long research pieces. The University of Hong Kong
  13. 13. Students’ views on OSR • The OSR question is always related to the topic of the next lecture. By doing the OSR, I can predict what the next class will be about so it acts as a kind of preparation. • I like it because we get to look at others’ responses, so we know how others think. It broadens the way I think and helps to develop critical thinking. It is quite fun too. The University of Hong Kong
  14. 14. Learning orientation of OSR • Encourages sustained engagement • Promotes student thinking/involvement • Anticipates the next class • and stimulates dialogue “puts students’ voices into the class” The University of Hong Kong
  15. 15. Features of History task design • Variety of tasks • Fieldwork e.g. Museum visit Participation in the discipline • Student choice • Assessing participation The University of Hong Kong
  16. 16. Students’ views • … flexibility … initiative … autonomous learning • “if you want a high grade, you really need to learn things” • Some possible lack of congruence between lecture content and project content (dependent on student choice) The University of Hong Kong
  17. 17. Issues in History task design • Personal student investment • Heavy teacher (and student) workload • Assessing participation (reliability vs productive learning) • Coherence and linkages? The University of Hong Kong
  18. 18. Implications The University of Hong Kong
  19. 19. Competing priorities • Fairness/reliability <-> promoting learning • Variety <-> familiarity • Innovation <-> conservatism • Confidence <-> defensiveness • Trust <-> accountability The University of Hong Kong
  20. 20. Good Assessment task design • Resolves competing contingencies by focusing on promoting student learning; • Facilitates persistent intellectual engagement; • Mirrors real-life uses of the discipline; • Permits some degree of student choice; • Engineers in-class feedback dialogues in relation to tasks and work in progress. The University of Hong Kong
  21. 21. THANK YOU The University of Hong Kong
  22. 22. Criteria for excellent OSR • “shows clear evidence of independent thinking, a critical approach to the question posed, and perceptive reflection upon the issues it raises. It leaves the reader no doubt as to the position of the author and why she or he has adopted it. It presents a clear, well-developed and effective justification for the author’s position”. The University of Hong Kong
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