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Extraordinary Experiences Conference University of Bournemouth September 2007 WHAT’S WRONG WITH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

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H o s p i t a l i t y , L e i s u r e , S p o r t & T o u r i s m T o w a r d s L e a r n i n g C r e a t i v e l y. Extraordinary Experiences Conference University of Bournemouth September 2007 WHAT’S WRONG WITH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING BEING ‘MORE FUN’?. Presentation Structure.

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H o s p i t a l i t y , L e i s u r e , S p o r t & T o u r i s m

T o w a r d s L e a r n i n g C r e a t i v e l y

Extraordinary Experiences Conference

University of Bournemouth

September 2007


presentation structure
Presentation Structure
  • Introduction and background to the TLC Project
  • Key Research Findings 2005-7
  • Summary
  • Creative Activity
the tlc project
The TLC Project

Project Aim

“To enhance the student

learning experience by

developing creative and

inclusive modes of

assessment which do

not rely solely on

written evidence”.

project rationale
Diversification of student population

Creates a need for more varied approaches to LTA

Project focuses on inclusive assessment

Particularly students with dyslexia

Project Rationale
innovation and balance of assessment
Innovation and Balance of Assessment
  • Innovation in and balance of assessment so ALL students have opportunities to develop their strengths as well as address weaknesses
what is innovative assessment
What is innovative assessment?
  • Assessment is innovative for students and staff if it is new in their context.
  • It is trying to do something new.
  • There is a shift in purpose rather than just using a new method. (McDowell, 2002)
structure of the website
Structure of the website

  • Based on layered iceberg model:
  • Top of iceberg
  • Videos, recordings and photos of students taking part in the assessments.
  • Middle of the iceberg
  • Reflective Case Studies written by lecturers trialing assessments.
  • Bottom of iceberg
  • Links to underlying pedagogic theory
what is on the tlc website
What is on the TLC website?
  • Reflective case studies written by lecturers
  • Links to pedagogic theory
  • TLC Research findings
  • Project links and information
case studies
Case Studies

Divided into oral, practical and visual modes

summary of tlc action research 2005 7
Summary of TLC Action Research 2005-7
  • Literature survey on oral, practical and visual assessment theory.
  • Assessment modes audited on six courses in three HEIs.
  • Focus groups of student and staff attitudes to assessment
  • Workshops at national conferences.
  • In-depth interviews with managers and education developers.
  • In-depthinterviews with students who have experienced innovative assessment.
year one an audit of assessment modes on 6 courses
Year One.An Audit of assessment modes on 6 courses

The audit found that at the three universities written assessments in HSLT subjects dominated (70% written of 334 assessments).

students views on essays
Students’ views on essays
  • Have more time to work on the structure than an exam.
  • There are too many of them.
students views on visual assessments i e making a video
Students’ views on visual assessments, i.e. making a video.
  • Allows students to work together
  • Allows for choice of topic/independence/variety
  • Practical and leads to an end product.
students views on oral assessments i e presentations
Students’ views on oral assessments, i.e. presentations
  • Allows them to get ‘real world experience’.
  • Develops self awareness, allows for exchange of ideas, students get to know each other.
  • Preparation for future working life.
emerging themes from year one research
Emerging themes from Year One research
  • Students and staff prefer a varied diet of assessment that suits students’ learning styles.
  • ‘Innovative’ assessment recognised as good for developing employability skills and putting theory into practice.
  • Staff overwhelmed by marking of exams/essays.
  • Staff can face barriers when wanting to making changes to their assessments.
  • Staff felt high assessment driven culture leads to a reduction in student creativity, less risk taking and students adopting a surface approach to learning.
year three interviews with students who have experienced innovative assessments
Year ThreeInterviews with students who have experienced innovative assessments
  • Oral Assessment – The Windfall Assessment.
  • Module: Outdoor Recreational Issues.
  • Role-play interview.
  • Students dress in professional manner, make a presentation on a researched subject and answer questions.
  • 5 students interviewed.
  • Students visualised their experience by creating a model with ‘wicky stix’.
what were the best aspects of the assessment
What were the best aspects of the assessment?
  • “It forces potential”
  • Real-life situation, practical setting

(Kolb, 1984; Knowles,1990).

  • Benefits to dyslexic students who struggle with written assessments
  • Benefits to student who enjoy oral presentations
  • Suits some students learning styles (Fleming,2006).
  • Makes students ‘think on their feet’.
  • Good way to demonstrate understanding. Not fixed like an essay
students visual construction of oral assessment
Students visual construction of oral assessment

This model of a tepee and a man on the ground was constructed by two male students. They thought the assessment had put pressure on them, but this was ‘good’ pressure, symbolised by the man on the ground beside a pair of dumbbells. The tepee represents structure and good preparation for the assessment

students worst feelings about the oral assessment
Students worst feelings about the oral assessment
  • Shy students find oral assessments stressful.
  • Time limit of 10 minutes a challenge.
  • Dyslexic students can still struggle with structuring presentations.
  • Fear factor, unknown, unfamiliar format for some.
  • Some students prefer written formats.
student visualization of worst aspect of assessment
Student visualization of worst aspect of assessment

A dyslexic female student. The blue tear drop represents sweat (nerves before the assessment). “It’s red because I am really hot and it is a bit scary”.

summary of oral assessment interviews
Summary of Oral Assessment interviews
  • Students saw the benefits of oral assessments in developing presentation skills, interview techniques and how these link with what employers are looking for in graduates.
  • Some students felt they had benefited from preparing for the assessment with friends (socio-educational networks).
  • As this is a new approach for some students it is important to keep evaluating feedback from students (Boud D)
summary continued
Summary continued
  • Students responses to the assessment varied depending on their learning style and personality, but generally they liked having a variety of assessments. Gibbs G (2006) found introducing a variety of assessment can confuse and disengage students, but sensible mix can enable greater alignment of assessment and outcomes.
  • Some students would like to negotiate over the mode of assessment.

(Effective forms of assessment involve students designing and negotiating criteria with tutors (Ask, Rust 2006)

  • Some students felt they needed more preparation for the assessment.
practical assessment interviews with students
Practical Assessment Interviews with Students
  • Two Event assessments investigated at two H.E.I’s.
  • Interviews with 13 students at two HEIs.
  • Male and female students, ages 19-33, Level 1,2 and H (year out on placement).
  • Students had to work in groups and organise a live event.
  • Students created a model to express their emotional response to the assessment.
positive outcomes of the event assessment
Positive outcomes of the Event assessment
  • Putting theory into practice (Kolb, 1984; Knowles (1990).

Revans ???

  • Working as a team.
  • Satisfaction of successfully running an event “pure excitement of running an event”.
  • Becoming more involved in the whole process.
  • Having freedom to choose event and manage a budget “being as creative as you want.”
  • Students who had completed the assessment two years previously still remembered the assessment.
student s visual representation of event
Student’s visual representation of Event

The green ticks represent the start and finish. The black is disappointment when coming across a challenge.

worst aspects for events students
Worst aspects for Events’ students
  • Disagreements over the marking.
  • Communication difficulties.
  • Motivating team members.

Equity Theory (Adams, 1964); taking responsibility for learning (Knowles, 1990)

lessons learned from event assessment interviews
Lessons learned from Event assessment interviews
  • Innovative assessments developed employability skills.

(Evidence that some students used the assessment in interviews for placement year)

  • Group work seen both as a challenge and a positive aspect.
  • Ideally involve employers in the assessments.
  • Marking needs to reflect difficulty of event organised.

(Assessment as measurement or judgment (Biggs, 2003). Validity of assessing complex learning tasks – being ‘fair’ vs its relevance (Elton and Johnson, 2002).

final presentation summary
Final Presentation Summary
  • The impact of ‘innovative’ assessments on lecturers and students has been investigated throughout the project.
  • The results indicate that lecturers and students enjoy a varied diet of assessment and that experiential assessments can be challenging but are often rewarding and fun.
  • Lecturers trialing innovative assessments have written reflective case studies for the TLC website.
  • A literature review has linked these case studies with underpinning theory.
  • Lecturers still face barriers when wanting to make changes to assessments. In order to encourage staff to be less ‘risk averse’ any changes need to be showcased and justified. This is the aim of the TLC project website.
sophocles 495 406 bc
Sophocles 495 – 406 bc
  • “One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try”

Adams, J., (1965). Inequity in social exchange, in Buchanan and Huczynski (2004). Organisational behaviour. An introductory text. Harlow: Prentice Hall. pp. 251-253.

ASKe project

Biggs, J., (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University 2nd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Boud, D (1995). Assessment and Learning: Contradictory or complimentary? In Knight, P. (ed) Assessment for Learning in HE, London, Kogan Page

Elton, L. and B. Johnston, (2002). Assessment in universities: a critical review of research. York: LTSN Generic Centre.

Fleming, N., (2001). Teaching and learning styles. VARK strategies.Christchurch, N.Z.: Fleming.

Fleming, N., and Baume, D. (2006) Learning Styles Again: VARKing up the right tree! Educational Developments, SEDA Ltd, Issue 7.4, Nov. 2006, p4-7.

Gibbs, G. and Simpson, S., (2004). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Issue1. 3-31.

Gibbs G (2006). How assessment frames learning. In Bryan, C. & Clegg, K. (Eds) Innovative assessment in Higher Education. Oxford: Routledge


Jarvis, P., Holford, J., and C. Griffin, (2005). The theory and practice of learning. 2nd ed. Oxford: RoutledgeFalmer

Knowles (1990). Action Learning Theory, in Oxford Brookes Centre for Staff and Learning Development available at Accessed 15/08/07

Kolb (1984), Experiential Learning, in Oxford Brookes Centre for Staff and Learning Development available at Accessed 15/08/07

McDowell, E. (2002) Students and innovative assessment, The Higher Education Academy.

Rust.C (2002) The impact of assessment on student learning – how can the research literature practically help to inform the development of department assessment strategies and learner centred assessment practices? Active Learning in Higher Education, 3(2) pp.145 -158.

Rust. C, O’Donovan, B & Price M. (2005) Social- constructivist assessment approaches. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. Vol 30 No. 3