Non-traditional assessment in traditional subjects Work Placement, Employability and ePortfolios
Context • Since the 1980s there have been consistent governmental drives to increase the effectiveness of HE in preparing students for working life • Role of internships increasingly seen as critical in marketplace – improving candidates skills, widening access to professional networks and developing social capital
Work placement modules and humanities • Hawkins and Woolf in Lavender ed. (2011) estimate that currently 32% of depts have wk placement provision • Predominately those in the post-92 sector • Assessments tended towards reflective essays and placement journals/diaries • Hawkins and Woolf (2011)- ‘little use was made of any form of e-assessment’; ‘portfolios…involved students submitting a collection of items assessed individually, rather than…holistic portfolio[s]’
ePortfolios and employability • ePortfolios have been seen for some time as a valuable extension of PDP • Valued for developing goal-setting and reflecting skills, improving language and communication skills, and independent planning/initiative • HEFCE e-learning objective (2005) – "encouraging e-based systems of describing learning achievement and personal development planning"
Why do we want to do it? • To correct perceptions that humanities subjects do not develop transferable skills • To improve the employability of our humanities students • To encourage students to develop their career plans
Humanities Work Placement @ Roehampton • Work placement originally assessed via essay alone • Revised by Dr. Kathryn Tempest to include portfolio • Improve engagement with placement • Greater integration of academic subject and placement opportunity • 2 & 3yr UG Students from TRS, Philosophy, History and Classical Civilisations • Students secure their own placement • Assessed via 25% eportfolio and 75% essay on subject related to placement
Requirements • The ePortfolio is posted as a Mahara ‘view’ • It must contain: • A reflective journal • A copy of the student’s CV both before and after placement • A description of the host institution • Other potential items – covering letter; references from placement institution • But many of our students do an awful lot more…
Potential • ePortfolios allow students greater flexibility in recording the placement experience (video, photographs, links as well as text) • Gives students the freedom to create a very rich resources (so rich that some material ‘borrowed’ by placement institutions) • Potential for peer-to-peer learning via Mahara group
References • R. Hawkins and H. Woolf, ‘The Assessment of Work Placement Learning in UK Undergraduate History Programmes’ in L. Lavender ed., History Graduates with Impact (HEA, 2011), 37-43 • JISC myWorld case study
Questions for discussion • Do ePortfolios deliver on the skills they are designed to foster (reflection, independence, language/communication)? • How can employability be enhanced further? • Should ePortfolios be given more weighting in module assessment? • Should we move towards outward-facing portfolios for work placement modules (portfolios that can be shared with future employers)?