Embedding Assessment into Course Design – A View from Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong L...
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Embedding Assessment into Course Design – A View from Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. Dr Nick Jones [email protected] Cardiff University Centre for Lifelong Learning. c. 400 courses a year to individuals and to business ( Choices and Open for Business prospectuses).

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Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Embedding Assessment into Course Design – A View from Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning

Dr Nick Jones

[email protected]


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Cardiff University Centre forLifelong Learning

  • c. 400 courses a year to individuals and to business (Choices and Open for Business prospectuses).

  • c. 4000 enrolments per year (c. 500 FTEs).

  • Accredited courses enable academic progression – Foundation Certificates, Certificate of HE and Diploma of HE, Pathways to degrees.

  • Our learners: ‘non-traditional’, career development (including CPD), stepping stone to HE and degree study (Pathways and Widening Access), Free Standing Module (UG) students (330 enrolments in 2010/11 = 27.5 FTEs).

  • Part-time delivery: face-to-face, online, blended learning, day schools and residential courses.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

The Humanities Programme

  • 60–70 courses per academic year.

  • Subject areas: Creative Writing, Historical Studies (Art and Architecture, History and Archaeology, Folklore), Music, and Philosophy.

  • 30 tutors.

  • Diverse student profiles.

  • The programme provides:

    - courses not otherwise available in the area;

    - highly transferable employability skills and opportunities for academic progression;

    - a stimulating and coherent set of courses.

  • Part of my role is to provide academic support and leadership to the tutors.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Embedding Assessment into Course Design: Why?

Key objective:

To engage diverse cohorts of adult learners in module assessment

  • Non-traditional learners can be resistant to essays and exams – and to any form of assessment in general.

  • Learners often attend a course to expand their knowledge of a specific subject and do not wish to be assessed on it (the so-called ‘leisure learners’).

  • 60% of the student cohort studying Choices courses in 2010–11 already had degrees.

  • In the academic year 2010–11, approximately 11.7% of LEARN students disclosed a disability on their enrolment forms.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Scholarly literature

Scholarly literature agrees that assessment is at the heart of the learning process (Brown et al. 1997, Ramsden 2003) and must be an integral part of constructive alignment (Biggs and Tang (2007)).

‘Assessment is sometimes the last thing we think about when designing our courses’ (Norton 2007: 93).

‘The alignment of assessment with other features of a course is the basis of course design and central to effective assessment’ (Brown 2001: 4).

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


The tension

Providing students with a variety of assessment methods is therefore essential:

it offers many educational benefits for our learners;

when a student gains credits Cardiff University recognises that they have successfully completed a course of study and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales supports the course financially.

Educational benefits vs. financial benefits

The tension!


The incremental approach

The incremental approach

  • If the assessment is embedded – integrated – into course design then students are more likely to attempt it.

  • For the method to work effectively, the assessment tasks need to be incremental:

    Ideally, feedback to students should be continuous. There is a sense therefore in enabling small units of assessment to build up into a final mark or grade. This avoids surprises, and can be much less stressful than systems in which the whole programme rests on performance during a single time-constrained occasion. (S. Brown et al. 2005: 4)

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


The key principles of embedding assessment

The key principles of embedding assessment

  • Assessment tasks should be aligned with intended learning outcomes and with learning and teaching activities;

  • Assessment tasks should be diverse and inclusive;

  • Assessment tasks should be incremental, set at appropriate stages throughout the module and weighted appropriately;

  • Assessment tasks should enable development and progression of students’ skills, knowledge and confidence.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Examples ofembedding assessment

(1) History module

Assignment 1: 300-word questionnaire, set in week 2 (20% of final mark)

Assignment 2: 500-word source analysis, set in week 5 (30%)

Assignment 3: 700-word essay, set in week 8 (50%)

(2) Music module

Assignment 1: tutorial worksheet (short answers), set in week 2, completed in class/home (30%)

Assignment 2: CD/book review exercise, set in week 5 (20%)

Assignment 3: short essay (c. 700 words), set in week 8, started in class, completed at home (50%)

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Successes

  • A shared understanding between tutors of what embedding assessment actually entails (tutor workshops).

  • Evidence of diverse and inclusive modes of assessment.

  • A percentage increase in students attempting assessment.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Students attempting assessment

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Areas for concern

  • Not all tutors embraced the approach.

  • Not all students embraced the approach.

  • In the first year of implementation isolated instances of high marking as a result of tutors giving greater emphasis to reflective exercises (such as course journals, short class and homework tasks) rather than to extended written work which employs academic study skills, such as independent research and critical thinking.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

Areas of development

  • The production of a new Tutor Handbook for each subject area, offering advice on how to embed assessment into course design (including assessment weightings), marking criteria, an assignment cover sheet and feedback/feedforward form, and photocopyable handouts for students with regard to writing learning journals and essays.

  • A new Blackboard Module for all the Centre’s tutors – the Tutor Information Centre – which provides academic support and advice on different aspects of L&T, including assessment and feedback.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


Dr nick jones jonesn3 cardiff ac uk

References

Biggs, J and Tang, C. 2007. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. 3rd edn. Maidenhead: The Society for Research into Higher Education & The Open University Press.

Brown, S., Race, P. and Smith, B. 2005. 500 Tips on Assessment, 2nd edn. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer.

Brown, G. 2001. Assessment: A Guide for Lecturers. York: LTSN Generic Centre.

Brown, G, Bull, J and Pendlebury, M. 1997. Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education. London: Routledge.

Norton, L. 2007. ‘Using Assessment to Promote Quality Learning in Higher Education’, in Campbell, A, and Norton, L (eds.), Learning, Teaching and Assessing in Higher Education: Developing Reflective Practice, Exeter: Learning Matters, 92-101.

Ramsden, P. 2003. Learning to Teach in Higher Education. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong LearningCanolfan Caerdydd ar gyfer Addysg Gygol Oes


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