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Assessing ‘off campus’ psychology students strategic design and development of psychology assessments from a programme-level perspective


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This paper aims to demonstrate the utility of taking a programme-level approach to the design of assessments on a psychology programme.
Assessment has the potential to be a driving pedagogical instrument in third-level psychology education. The function of assessment should not merely be to measure learning, it should be an occasion for psychology students to engage with and develop their learning.
Staff developing psychology assessments for an ‘off-campus’ BA in Humanities (Psychology Major) in Dublin City University do so in line with an assessment matrix that is designed to ensure that assessments provide students with reasonable opportunities to achieve all programme learning outcomes, across the programme, as well as all module learning outcomes within a specific module. This process is supported by training workshops and an online course for assessment writers.
This approach provides a way in which it can be demonstrated that there is appropriate constructive alignment on a psychology programme.

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Assessing ‘off campus’ psychology students strategic design and development of psychology assessments from a programme-level perspective

  1. 1. Assessing ‘off-campus’ psychology students: Strategic design and development of psychology assessments from a programme-level perspective Dr James Brunton & Elaine Walsh Open Education Unit, National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University
  2. 2. Psychology and Flexibility “Now, more than at any point in our recent history, there is a compelling economic and social case for new initiatives to raise levels of education and skills among adults in the wider population in Ireland” (HEA, 2013, p.4)
  3. 3. • "Practically all higher education institutions of the sample have started to embrace e-learning. Most of the surveyed institutions are using blended learning (91%), integrating e-learning into conventional teaching, but surprisingly 82% of institutions also indicate that they offer online learning courses. Less frequent, but seemingly also on the rise, are other forms of provision such as joint inter-institutional collaboration and online degree courses. Online examinations are likely to become more widely used for all students in all or most disciplines, also for conventionally taught courses. Besides pedagogical and economic motives, the institutions refer to a growing need for flexibility of time and place, and better use of resources, benefiting both residential students and a wider range of professional and other lifelong learners." (EAU Publications, 2014, p. 7)
  4. 4. Full-time NUI Maynooth Dublin Business School NUI Galway Waterford Institute of Technology Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design Technology University of Limerick University College Dublin University College Cork Trinity College Dublin Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick Dublin City University (School of Nursing and Human Sciences) Ulster University Queens University Belfast
  5. 5. Flexible ‘Off-campus’/Online/DE • Dublin City University (Open Education) • (UK) Open University
  6. 6. Students focus on assessment Flexible Learners really focus on assessment
  7. 7. Teaching and Learning Model
  8. 8. Stakeholders Stakeholders Students Tutors/ Assessments Monitors Programme Team Assessment Writers/ Subject Leaders
  9. 9. Constructive alignment – Programme and Module Learning Outcomes • Constructive alignment • Analysis of Programme Learning Outcomes - Identified skills etc. • Mapped to assessment type – Online discussions – Reflective practice – Online experiments – Final year project – Statistical analysis – Examinations • Module assessments mapped to module learning outcomes
  10. 10. Development of the Assessment Matrix • Programmatic view of assessment • Ensure sufficient opportunities for students to achieve PLOs • Assessment types identified • Humanities Programme: 30 Modules – flexible routes with some registration rules • Psychology Major: 12 Modules – Some flexibility with more restrictive registration rules • Mapped the assessment types to each module • Lists (per module) each assignment type, examination, assessment weightings • Created a Moodle-based Humanities Assessment Writers course, supported by annual workshops
  11. 11. Screenshot
  12. 12. Humanities Assessment Writer Course
  13. 13. Links to Accreditation Processes
  14. 14. The messy reality
  15. 15. Thank You!