Chapter Six - The Consider C
The Consider C is concerned with the reflective elements of learning and the
ways in which learners can demonstrate how they have achieved their learning
outcomes; in other words it is about the assessment elements of learning.
Reflection and assessment are key drivers for learning and hence appropriate
design of these elements is crucial. This chapter will begin by providing an
overview of the key concepts of reflection and assessment and will then describe
a number of ways in which these can be promoted.
Reflection is a metacognitive strategy to help learners to reflect on experiences
actions and decisions, in other words the active application of experiences to
gain new or better understanding. Reflection is more than just thinking, it s an
intentional and intellectual activity. The importance of reflection was highlight
by Dewey (1916). Dewey believed that education and learning are social and
interactive processes. He argued that:
Reflection involves not simply a sequence of ideas, but a consequence—a
consecutive ordering in such a way that each determines the next as its
proper outcome, while each in turn leans back on its predecessors
(Dewey 1933 pg 1).
He defined reflection as:
… an active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or
supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it
and the further conclusions to which it tends (Dewey, 1933, pg. 6).
He describes five aspects of reflection: leaping to possible solutions,
intellectualisation of a problematic experience into a problem to be solved, the
use of hypotheses to guide further observation and information gathering, the
elaboration of ideas in to a reasoned supposition and the experimentation and
testing of hypotheses.
Dewey articulates that there are two kinds of experiential processes that result
in learning. The first is trial and error, which leads to a ‘rule of thumb’ decision.
The second was, what he termed, ‘reflective activity’, which involves the
perception of relationships and connections between the parts of the experience.
He considered reflection on experience as a learning loop, continually oscillating
between the experience and the relationship being inferred.
Moon defines reflection as:
Reflection is a form of mental processing – like a form of thinking – that we use
to fulfil a purpose or to achieve some anticipated outcome. It is applied to
relatively complicated or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious
solution and is largely based on the further processing of knowledge and
understanding and emotions that we already possess (Moon 1999).
Tate and Sills define reflection as:
We learn through critical reflection by putting ourselves into the experience &
exploring personal & theoretical knowledge to understand it & view it in
different ways (Tate and Sills 2004).
Reflection can be both informal and formal. Informal reflection involves self -
questioning and develops our awareness of our own assumptions. Formal
reflection draws on theory and practice, and provides guidelines for practice.
Mezirow argues that we need to make an interpretation of an experience to
make sense of it and in doing so we learn (Mezirow 1990). He goes on to argue
that critical reflection is about critiquing the presuppositions on which our
beliefs are built. In other words:
Learning may be defined as a process of making a new or revised interpretation
of the meaning of an experience, which guides subsequent understanding,
appreciation, and action (Mezirow, 1990, pg. 1).
Mezirow suggests there are three levels of reflection. The first is non-reflection, i.e. the
absence of reflective thought. The second is lower level reflection, which involves the
awareness of judgments, observations and descriptions, evaluations of planning, and
assessment of decisions. The final level is critical reflection, which is the process of
reflection and includes assessment of the need for further
Sherwood et al. argue that reflection is a way of bridging the gap between theory and
practice and that reflection enables tacit knowledge to be made explicit (Sherwood,
Freshwater et al. 2005). They argue that reflection is a metacognitive strategy
concerned with: self-monitoring, self-evaluating, and self-reinforcing goal-orientated
behaviours. They suggests a number of ways of facilitating reflection (Sherwood,
Freshwater et al. 2005). Firstly, through writing reflective diaries of blogs, to reflect on a
learner’s experience and how this has transformed their learning. To this I would add
peer critiquing of blog posts to foster dialogue between learners and the development of
shared co-construction. Secondly, through the use of video and audio tapes. For
example, learners might engage in a role-play activity, which is recorded. Afterwards the
learners watch the video and discuss particular episodes to further their understanding
of what happened. Thirdly, the use of the critical incident technique, which identifies
particular helpful or unhelpful behaviours in a specific critical situation. Fourthly,
discussion, for example in class or through a discussion forum. Learners might be given
a topic to discuss or use the space to reflect on their learning to date. Fifthly, the use of
visual technical to map out concepts and their relationships, for example through
drawing or concept maps. Sixthly, through role play, for example in a face-to-face
situation or in a virtual world. Role play allows learners to act out a particular event,
problem, or situation. For example, learners might take different roles (such as nurses,
doctors, administrators, patients, etc.) in a medical ward simulation, where a series of
events occur that they have to respond to. Wills et al. have written a book which
describes a range of role-play designs (Wills, Leight et al. 2010). Finally, through
storytelling, which is a power discourse, which has a long history.
Boud et al. argue that it is important to provide opportunities for learners to build on
their prior experience and to enable them to be actively engaged in what they are
learning (Boud, Keogh et al. 1985).
Schön defines reflection as ‘the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a
process of continuous learning’ (Schön 1987). He introduced the concept of the
reflective practitioner and argued that reflective practice is an important facet of
professional practice, enabling individuals to reflect on their own practice and
hence develop. It is about lifelong learning, whereby a practitioner analyses their
experiences in order to learn from them. He states that reflective practice is ‘ a
dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skillful’. He argues
that ‘reflection in action’ concerns thinking about something whilst engaged in
doing it, having a feeling about something & practicing according to that feeling.
It is concerned with practicing critically. ‘Reflection-on-action’ on the other hand,
occurs after the activity has taken place when a person thinks about what
happened, judging how successful it was and whether any changes to what
occurred could have resulted in different outcomes.
Assessment is one of the key drivers for learning. Boud and Falchikov (2007)
argue that assessment directs attention to what is import and acts as an
incentive to study. It affects what students study and how they study. The Quality
Assurance Agency (QAA) defines assessment as:
… any processes that appraise an individual's knowledge, understanding,
abilities or skills (QAA 2012).
The American Association for Higher Education defines it as:
Assessment is an ongoing process aimed at understanding and improving
student learning. It involves making our expectations explicit and public; setting
appropriate criteria and high standards for learning quality; systematically
gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well
performance matches those expectations and standards; and using the resulting
information to document, explain, and improve performance. When it is
embedded effectively within larger institutional systems, assessment can help us
focus our collective attention, examine our assumptions, and create a shared
academic culture dedicated to assuring and improving the quality of higher
education (Angelo 1995).
There are four types of assessment: diagnostic assessment (to ascertain a
leaner’s current level of understanding of a topic), formative assessment by a
tutor or by peers (to provide feedback on a learner’s work), and summative
assessment (which contributes to the learner’s final grade. Assessments can be
norm or criterion referenced. Norm referencing is where the students are placed
in rank order and the grades are assigned by comparison to other students’
performance rather than upon the absolute quality of their performance.
Criterion referencing is where achievements are judged in relation to objectives
or criteria irrespective of other students’ performance.
Race et al. argue that:
Nothing that we do to, or for, our students is more important than our
assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our
assessment influence our students for the rest of their lives and careers – fine if
we get it right, but unthinkable if we get it wrong (Race, Brown et al. 2005).
Spurlin suggests there are three facets to assessment: a focus on student
learning, the collection, analysis and interpretation of information, and
application for the purpose of improvement (Spurlin 2006).
The Jisc publication ‘Effective assessment in a digital age’ states that:
Assessment lies at the heart of the learning experience: how learners are
assessed shapes their understanding of the curriculum and determines their
ability to progress. At the same time, assessment and feedback form a significant
part of practitioners’ workloads and, with increased numbers, reduced budgets
and higher learner expectations, continue to be a matter of concern for many
institutions (Jisc 2010).
The report argues that technology can be used in a number of ways for
assessment and it lists the following benefits:
Greater variety and authenticity in the design of assessments
Improved learner engagement, for example through interactive formative
assessments with adaptive feedback
Choice in the timing and location of assessments
Capture of wider skills and attributes not easily assessed by other means,
for example through simulations, e-portfolios and interactive games
Efficient submission, marking, moderation and data storage processes
Consistent, accurate results with opportunities to combine human and
Increased opportunities for learners to act on feedback, for example by
reflection in e-portfolios Innovative approaches based around use of
creative media and online peer and self-assessment
Accurate, timely and accessible evidence on the effectiveness of
curriculum design and delivery
It is it is now understood that learning opportunities that provide enable
learners to acquire skills of self-monitoring and self-regulation (for example by
assessing their own work against defined criteria) prompt deeper and more
Boud (2007) lists the following principles for good assessment:
They must provide whatever information is necessary for judgements to
be recorded of student performance
They must have a positive influence on what students do from prior to the
act of assessment to their subsequent learning afterwards
They must be valued by students as worthwhile activities
In terms of the learning activity the student engages with, he argues that:
The activity should be a learning experience
The activity is seen as valid and worthwhile
It actively promotes learning and skills beyond the act itself
The student is an active agent throughout
It has a strong positive backwash effect on learning during the course
It enables students to celebrate and portray achievements
It is part of a sequence of great designs over the course as a whole
It arises from a great learning environment
It is not excessively resource-intensive
It requires and prompts informed judgement
The Re-Engineering Assessment Practice (REAP) project1 provides a framework
for discussing how assessment and feedback can have a beneficial impact on
learning. Nicol et al. list the following good principles of assessment and
feedback (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006; Nicol and Draper 2009).
Good feedback processes should:
Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards)
Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning
Deliver high quality information to students about their learning that
helps them self-correct
Encourage teacher-student and peer dialogue around learning
Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
Provide opportunities to act on feedback
Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape their
Effective assessment tasks should:
Capture sufficient study time in and out of class
Distribute student effort evenly across topics and weeks
Engage students in productive learning activity
Communicate clear and high expectations to students
Lombardi argues that Educators who strive to bring authentic learning
experiences to their students must devise appropriate and meaningful measures
to assess student learning and mastery of concepts at hand (Lombard 2008). She
provides a comparison of traditional versus authentic assessment2 as outlined in
2 A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real -world tasks that demonstrate
meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills from
Table 1: The difference between traditional and authentic assessment
Brown et al. (2005) argue that assessment should be: valid, reliable, transparent,
authentic, should motivate students to learn, promote deep learning, fair,
equitable, timely, incremental, demanding, enable the demonstration of
excellence, efficient and manageable. They list the following reasons to assess:
To guide students’ improvement
To help students decide on which options to choose
To help students to learn from their mistakes or difficulties
To allow students to check out how well they are developing as learners
To classify or grade students
To allow students to make realistic decisions about whether they are up
to the demands of the course or module
To determine fitness for entry to a programme
To give teachers feedback on their teaching
To enable students to do serious (deep) learning
To translate intended learning outcomes into reality
To add variety to students’ learning experience
To help teacher structure their teaching and constructively align learning
outcomes to assessments
To allow students to place benchmark their learning against that of their
To gather statistics on the course
To lead to appropriate qualifications
Race3 lists the following mechanisms for assessing: unseen, time-constrained
written exams, open book exams, open notes exams, structured exams, essays,
reviews and annotated bibiligraphies, reports, practical work, portfolios,
3 Adapted from
presentations, vivas, student projects, posters, dissertations and thesis, and
Kolb’s experiential learning model
Kolb, built on the work of Dewey (Dewey 1933), Lewin (Lewin 1942) others. He
argues that ‘learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the
transformation of experience’ (Kolb 1984 pg. 38).
Kolb’s experiential4 learning model consists of four stages (Figure 1): the
concrete experience stage, i.e. the ‘do’ aspect of learning, the reflective
observation stage, the abstract conceptualisation stage, i.e. the ‘think’ aspect of
learning, and the active experimentation stage, i.e. the plan aspect of learning. It
is possible to begin anywhere in the cycle and learning occurs through iteration
between the four stages. In the first stage, concrete experience, the learner
actively experiences something, the second stage, reflective observation, is
where the learner consciously reflects back on that experience, the third stage,
abstract conceptualisation, is where the learner conceptualises a theory or
model to explain what was observed. The fourth stage, active experimentation, is
where the learner plans how to test their theory or model
Figure 1: Kolb's experiential learning cycle
Kolb argues that there are a number of key characteristics of experiential
learning. Firstly, that learning is a process, it is not solely about outcomes.
Secondly, learning is a continuous process, grounded in experience. Thirdly, the
process of learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically
opposite modes of adaptation to the world. Fourthly, learning is a holistic
process of adaptation to the world. Fifthly, learning involves transactions
between the learner and their environment. Sixthly, learning is a process of
Taylor’s reflective approach
Taylor (2000) argues that there are eight stages to reflection:
4 To emphasis the importance of experience in learning
Identify the issues, problems or phenomenon for reflection,
Decide on the reflective method and clarify its intent,
Plan the stages in a research proposal,
Follow the method and use the process,
Institute changes and improvements and continue to reflect on outcomes,
Report on outcomes,
Use the outcomes in practice as evidence.
Technologies can be used in a variety of ways to support assessment. The JISC
roadmap for e-assessment report states:
The variety of applications of e-assessment reported and their innovation and
general effectiveness indicate the potential of e-assessment to significantly
enhance the learning environment and the outcomes for students in a wide
range of disciplines and applications (Jisc 2006).
The JISC/QCA provide the following definition:
e-Assessment is the end-to-end electronic assessment processes where ICT is
used for the presentation of assessment activity, and the recording of responses.
This includes the end-to-end assessment process from the perspective of
learners, tutors, learning establishments, awarding bodies and regulators, and
the general public (Jisc 2007).
The following are important considerations when designing effective assessment
practices: appropriateness, timeliness, relevance, accessibility, validity and the
quality of supporting systems (Jisc 2007). E-assessment can provide more
authentic learning experiences, through the use of e-portfolios, reflective diaries,
blogs and role-play in virtual worlds. Multiple choice questions and computer-marked
assessment can provide timely formative feedback to students. Students
can provide each other with peer feedback and review, for example on blog post
or in discussion forums.
Biggs developed the concept of constructive alignment, which consists of two
parts: learners construct meaning from what they do, and the teacher aligns the
planned learning activities with the learning outcomes (Biggs 1999). The central
premise is that the curriculum is designed so that the learning activities and
assessment tasks are aligned with the learning outcomes that are intended in the
course or module (Figure 2),
Figure 2: Biggs' constructive alignment
There are three aspects to this:
Define the learning outcomes.
Select learning and teaching activities likely to enable the students to
attain the outcomes.
Assess the students' outcomes and grade the students learning.
Biggs states that constructive alignment starts:
with the outcomes we intend students to learn, and align teaching and
assessment to those outcomes. The outcome statements contain a learning
activity, a verb, that students need to perform to best achieve the outcome,
such as “apply expectancy-value theory of motivation”, or “explain the
concept of … “. That verb says what the relevant learning activities are that
the students need to undertake in order to attain the intended learning
outcome (Biggs n.d.).
Learning outcomes should have three components: a measurable verb, the
condition under which the performance will occur and the criteria for
acceptable performance, i.e. how the learner demonstrates their learning.
Learning outcomes can be mapped to Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom 1956),
which was later adapted by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001). Table 2 lists the
seven levels of Bloom’s taxonomy along with the appropriate verbs for each
level (corporation n.d.).5
Table 2: Verbs associated with Bloom's taxonomy
Level and meaning Verbs
Knowledge: the remembering of
previously learnt materials, i.e. the
recall of facts
Define, distinguish, identify,
inquire, label, list, match,
memorise, name, read, recall,
recognise, relate, repeat, record,
Comprehension: the ability to grasp
the meaning of the knowledge
Associated, describe, differentiate,
discuss, explain, extend, generalise,
give examples, illustrate, infer,
interpret, locate, rearrange,
reorder, restate, rewrite,
summarise, transform, translate
Application: the ability to use
learning materials in new ways
Apply, calculate, choose, classify,
demonstrate, develop, generalise,
illustrate, operate, organise,
practise, restructure, sketch, solve,
Analysis: the ability to break
material down into its parts so that
its organisational structure can be
Analyse, categorise, classify,
compare, contrast, deduce,
describe, detect, diagram,
distinguish, experiment, group,
inspect, point out, put into lists,
question, sub-divide, test
Synthesis: the ability to combine
previous experiences with new
material to form a whole new
Combine, compile, create, design,
generate, integrate, modify, plan,
produce, propose, solve
5 See also
Evaluation: the ability to judge the
value of material for a given
Appraise, assess, choose, compare,
conclude, consider, criticise,
evaluate, judge, measure, rate,
score, select, support, validate,
The JISC-funded Cogent project produced a list of verbs that can be used in
learning outcomes, along with a description of each verb.6
The viewpoints principles
The JISC-funded viewpoints project produced a set of principles for assessment
and feedback, each written on a card.7 Each principle begins with an active verb
such as clarify, encourage, provide, deliver to emphasise that an action must be
carried out by someone in order to implement that principle. Each card
comprises a guiding principle of good practice for assessment and feedback on
one side (e.g. help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria and
standards)) and some examples of disciplinary applications of that principle on
the other side (e.g. provide opportunities for discussion and reflection about
criteria and standards before learners engage in a learning task). The cards are
used in curriculum design workshops with academic staff and others involved in
designing for learning (such as learning technologists and librarians). Evaluation
of the workshops indicated that the resources helped practitioners rethink their
design process and enabled them to think beyond content to the learner
experience, in particular around the themes of ‘assessment and feedback’,
‘developing information skills’, and ‘learner engagement’ (Nicol 2012). The
following quotes are illustrative of workshop participants’ views: ‘ideas that
represented good practice’, ‘a useful starting point for a discussion about
curriculum design’. ‘good use of building on existing research’ and ‘a validated
set of pedagogical ideas to support curriculum design’.
These were underpinned by the principle that ‘assessment and feedback should
help empower and engage learners and provide opportunities for feedback
dialogue (peer-learner and/or teacher-learner)’. The first guideline is about
clarifying good performance, in terms of determining to what extent do learners
have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before
and after the assessment task. The second is concerned with encouraging time
and effort on task, and in particular encouraging students to engage in regular
study to promote deep learning. The third promotes delivery of high quality (and
7 http://wiki.ulster.ac.uk/download/attachments/29557521/Assessment&Feedback.pdf ?api=v2
learning. The fourth is about providing learners with opportunities to act on
feedback, to enable them to close the gap on current and desired performance.
The fifth is about encouraging interaction and dialogue with peers and the
teacher. The sixth is concerned with developing self-assessment and reflection.
The seventh is about giving learners assessment choices, in terms of topics,
methods, criteria, weighting and the timing of the assessment. The eight is about
encouraging positive motivational beliefs. The ninth is about ensuring that the
assessment and feedback processes inform and shape teaching. For each of these
there are a set of checklists for the designer to consider. There are also
guidelines to help enable learners to develop their information skills8 and ways
to foster learner engagement.9
Designing assessment activities
The UK’s Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) suggests the following steps for
designing assessment activities (QAA 2012):
Decide on the intended learning outcomes. What should the students be
able to do on completion of the course, and what underpinning
knowledge and understanding will they need in order to do it that they
could not do when they started?
Devise the assessment task(s). If you have written precise learning
outcomes this should be easy because the assessment should be whether
or not they can satisfactorily demonstrate achievement of the outcomes.
Devise the learning activities necessary (including formative assessment
tasks) to enable the students to satisfactorily undertake the assessment
Checklists and rubrics for assessment
Table 4 lists a set of assessment checklist questions, to ensure the design of
meaningful and measureable assessment of learning against learning outcomes.
Table 3: An assessment checklist
Are all the learning outcomes assessed?
Do the learning outcomes have active verbs, which can be measured?
Are there any elements of diagnostic assessment?
Are the assessment elements staggered at an appropriate pace across
the course or module?
Is formative feedback provided?
Are there any elements of peer assessment?
Have clear assessment criteria being developed mapped to grades?
Is an appropriate mix of assessment methods used?
Is the assessment accessible and inclusive?
Are the assessment elements clearly described?
Are the assessment elements at an appropriate level?
Is the time students spend on each assessment element appropriate?
Is feedback clearly linked to the purpose of the assessment and the
Does the assessment process enable learners to demonstrate
achievement of all the intended learning outcomes?
A rubric is an assessment tool that clearly indicates marking criteria. It can be
used for marking assignments, class participation, or overall grades. There are
two types of rubrics: holistic and analytical:
Holistic rubrics group several different assessment criteria and classify
them together under grade headings.
Analytic rubrics, on the other hand, separate different assessment criteria
and address them comprehensively. The top axis includes values that can
be expressed either numerically or by letter grade. The side axis includes
the assessment criteria.10
Designing rubrics consists of the following stages:
Decide what criteria or essential elements must be present in the
student’s work to ensure that it is high in quality. At this stage, you might
even consider selecting samples of exemplary student work that can be
shown to students when setting assignments.
Decide how many levels of achievement you will include on the rubric.
For each criterion or essential element of quality, develop a clear
description of performance at each achievement level.
Leave space for additional comments and a final grade.
Table 4 shows an example of a generic assessment criteria rubric.11 For each
grade there is a clear indication of the criterion that needs to be met, from
complete attainment of all the learning outcomes to partial or little attainment.
Table 4: Mapping grades to assessment criteria
A Clear attainment of all learning outcomes, showing complete and
comprehensive understanding of the course content, with development
of relevant skills and intellectual initiative to an extremely high
B Substantial attainment of most learning outcomes, showing a high level
of understanding of the course content, with development of relevant
analytical and interpretative skills to a high level
C Sound attainment of some major learning outcomes, with
understanding of most of the basic course content and development of
10 Adapted from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/
11 Adapted from http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_12158_en.pdf
relevant skills to a satisfactory level
D Some attainment of a range of learning outcomes, showing a basic
understanding of course content with development of relevant skills
More specialised rubrics can be developed, for example to evidence cooperative
learning, assessment of PowerPoints, podcasts, web pages, e-portfolios, writing,
games and simulations, research reports, oral presentations, use of social media,
assessing wikis, blogs or the use of Twiter.12
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has produced a set of guidelines on
assessment rubrics.13 They list the following benefits of assessment rubrics:
They provide a framework that clarifies assessment requirements and
standards of performance for different grades. In this, they support
assessment as learning; students can see what is important and where to
focus their learning efforts.
They enable very clear and consistent communication with students
about assessment requirements and about how different levels of
performance earn different grades. They allow assessors to give very
specific feedback to students on their performance.
They encourage students to take responsibility for their performance
When used for self-assessment and peer assessment, they can make
students aware of assessment processes and procedures, enhance their
meta-cognitive awareness, and improve their capacity to assess their own
They can result in richer feedback to students, giving them a clearer idea
where they sit in terms of an ordered progression towards increased
expertise in a learning domain.
By engaging staff teams in rubric-based conversations about quality, help
them develop a shared language for talking about learning and
They can help assessors efficiently and reliably interpret and grade
They systematically illuminate gaps and weaknesses in students'
understanding against particular criteria, helping teachers target areas to
The EdTechTeacher website14 lists a useful set of resources for assessing: blogs,
wikis, websites/digital portfolios, technology and social media, video, screen
casts and digital story telling, podcasts, graphic organizers and coding/gaming.
There are a number of tools for creating assessment rubrics, such as the ‘Score
Guides’ website, 15 rubistar,16 and rubric builder.17
12 Examples of each of these are available from
13 Adapted from https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/assessment-rubrics
Methods of assessment
There are numerous methods of assessment, the most traditional being essays
and examinations. Technologies can be used to assess students learning in a
number of ways; in terms of diagnostic, formative and summative assessment.
Diagnostic assessment is used to assess a student’s current level of
understanding of a topic, for example assessing a student’s level of mathematical
ability at the beginning of a course or their level of language skills. This can then
be used to tailor the learning materials appropriately, which might include
pointing the student to additional remedial materials. E-assessment, for example
through multiple-choice questions is a common means of achieving this.
Formative assessment is used to give students appropriate and timely feeding on
their learning and understanding of a topic. Getting students to keep a reflective
blog about their learning is a useful means of achieving this. Blogs can be used to
encourage knowledge sharing, reflection and debate (EDUCAUSE n.d.). The
teacher can provide comments on the blog posts, current misunderstandings and
direct the student to additional useful materials about the topic. Alternatively,
peers can provide feedback on blog posts. Discussion forums can also be used to
provide feedback. This can be in the form of a frequently asked questions thread,
or a discussion thread on a particular topic, where students are invited to
contribute to the discussion; the teacher then responses to these comments.
Summative assessment is used to grade students work and to assess to what
extend they have achieved the course’s learning outcomes. An alternative to the
traditional essay is the use of e-portfolios, where students gather evidence of
their achievement of the learning outcomes. An additional benefit of e-portfolios
is that they can enable students to reflect on their learning. For example,
students might be asked to keep a reflective blog and then to select three key
posts that evidence their understanding. To do this the student needs to read
through all their posts and make informed choices for which posts they choose.
They may also be required to describe why they have chosen those posts.
Gray (2008) defines e-portfolios as follows:
An e-portfolio is the product, created by the learner, a collection of digital
artefacts articulating experiences, achievements and learning.
She argues that the primary aim of an e-portfolio may be to collect evidence for
summative assessment, to demonstrate achievement, record progress and set
targets. She suggests that e-portfolios have a number of purposes:
Application – providing evidence in support of an application for a job or
for admission to further study
Transition – providing a richer and more immediate picture of learners’
achievements and needs as they progress to a new environment, and
supporting them through the process of transition
Learning, teaching and assessment – supporting the process of learning
through reflection, discussion and formative assessment, and providing
evidence for summative assessment
Personal development planning (PDP) and continuing professional
development (CPD) – supporting and evidencing the pursuit and
achievement of personal or professional competences
Lorenzo and Ittelson (2005) define e-portfolios as follows:
An e-portfolio is a digitized collection of artifeact, including demonstrations,
resources, and accomplishments that represent an individual, group,
community, organization or institution. This collection can be comprised of text-based,
graphic, or multimedia elements archived on a Web site or on other
electronic media such as a CD-ROM or DVD.
They argue that e-portfolios can help students become critical thinkers, as well
as helping them to develop their writing and multimedia communication skills.
E-portfolios can be created using a website, a blog or a specialised e-portfolio
tools, such as PebblePad.18 In addition most Virtual Learning Environments
(VLEs)/Learning Management Systems (LMSs) have e-portfolio tools. For
example, MOODLE has Mahara.19
E-portfolios support lifelong learning and can be used by the student not only in
their course, but more broadly, for example sharing the e-portfolio with potential
Classroom response systems or clickers are a useful way of eliciting student
feedback in the classroom. They can be used in a variety of different ways, such
The teacher poses a multiple-choice question to their students via an
overhead or computer projector.
Each student submits an answer to the question using a handheld
transmitter (a “clicker”) that beams a radio-frequency signal to a receiver
attached to the teacher’s computer.
Software on the teacher’s computer collects the students’ answers and
produces a bar chart showing how many students chose each of the
The teacher makes “on the fly” instructional choices in response to the bar
chart by, for example, leading students in a discussion of the merits of each
answer choice or asking students to discuss the question in small groups.
Examples of clicker questions
Recall Questions, where students are to recall facts, concepts, or
techniques relevant to class.
20 Adapted from http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/clickers/
Conceptual Understanding Questions, which go beyond recall and assess
students’ understanding of important concepts.
Application Questions, which require students to apply their knowledge
and understanding to particular situations and contexts.
Critical Thinking Questions, which require students to analyse the
relationships among multiple concepts or make evaluations based on
Student Perspective Questions, which ask students to share their opinions,
experiences, or demographic information.
Confidence Level Questions, which ask students a content question, then
following that by asking students to rate their confidence in their answers.
Monitoring Questions, which are designed to provide instructors with
information about how their students are approaching the learning
process in their courses.
Classroom Experiments, which can be used to collect data from students
for classroom experiments often used in the social sciences.
The freetech4teachers website21 compares nine e-assessment tools, these are:
TodaysMeet, Padlet, Socrative, Infuse Learning, Kahoot, Plicjers, 81 Dash, Geddit
and Answer Garden.
This chapter has provided an overview of the Consider C, namely ways in which
learners can be encourages to be reflective and to demonstrate their
achievement of learning outcomes. Key research on reflective learning and
assessment are described, along with practical examples of creating assessment
activities, which are constructively aligned with the intended learning outcomes.
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University of Strathclyde.
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educational discourse. Evaluation of the viewpoints project at the
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