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Students as Change Agents 2009-2010 Law . Alternative means of Assessment The Student view By Luke Dunham and Duncan Gorst. Introduction to the Project. NSS Survey Results, and Discussion within the SSLC and Learn and Teaching committee.

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students as change agents 2009 2010 law

Students as Change Agents 2009-2010 Law

Alternative means of Assessment

The Student view

By Luke Dunham and Duncan Gorst

introduction to the project
Introduction to the Project.
  • NSS Survey Results, and Discussion within the SSLC and Learn and Teaching committee.
  • A move within HE towards Alternative methods of Assessment
  • More Methods of Assessment being offered at Cornwall.
our research proposal
Our Research Proposal
  • The main idea for the Law project this year is to look into the student ‘view’ on the current practice of Exams and Essay based assessment, and to discover the ‘student view’ on alternative means of assessing modules.
our research methods
Our Research Methods
  • We decided that we would use both a Questionnaire and Focus Groups to gather the student view on Alternative Methods of Assessment
  • A caution at this point, was that we conducted research in such as way that we recognised that exams are not popular but that this should not bias our research.
questionnaire research
Questionnaire Research
  • Was conducted at both Campuses - we had 90 students reply at Cornwall and 48 reply for Exeter leading to an overall research sample of 138 students.
  • The Questionnaire was written with the aim of finding out what student opinion was on current assessment practice and to gather the ‘view’ on Alternative means of Assessment
Have you experienced any other forms of assessment

other than exams or essays ?



I feel that methods of assessment other than exams can/could

help me prepare for the workplace ?



Focus Groups
  • Having complete the Questionnaires it was decided that we should use some of the comments on the questionnaires to provoke discussion in the Focus Groups.
  • The Groups where made up of students from all years to ensure that we got as balanced a discussion as possible.
Focus Groups ~ Some Quotes
  • ‘Open note exams are more real-world as an employer is unlikely to ask you to prepare something off the top of your head. On the other hand, closed-note exams are more effective at testing actual ingrained knowledge of the subject.’
  • ‘Please get rid of closed-note exams! They do not reflect or assess any ability with regards to legal skills’
  • [said of summative essays] ‘because they are a test of your ability to use the information that you have been given as opposed to testing your memory’
  • ‘I found this helpful because it builds confidence & it gives you experience of what you may have to do in the future e.g. when going for an interview’
focus groups some quotes
Focus Groups ~ Some Quotes
  • ‘Surely the point of an exam is to examine your comprehension of the law, and not how much you can remember. If everybody could remember the law, we wouldn’t need books’.
  • ‘A degree is meant to test the intellectual rigour of a student and part of this is the ability to retain information. However unrealistic it may be to a real-life situation to expect a student to remember a lot of cases for a single question, a degree is not intended to prepare you for working life’.
  • ‘A modern law degree should facilitate the development of transferable, professional skills rather than examining pure intellectual ability. Written assessments are important but more emphasis should be put on the personal and professional development of the student.’
Where to take this now ....
  • The Research will be fed back into the Law School via the SSLC.
  • We hope that in light of the positive experience of students who have been assessed by alternative methods and the fact that students feel being assessed by way of presentation help equips them for employment/interviews. That the Law School will keep this in mind when creating modules in the future.