Learning from assessment: insights about student learning from programme level evidence Dr Tansy Jessop, TESTA Project Leader Launch of the Teaching Centre School of Politics and International Relations University of Nottingham 15 May 2014 TESTA premises 1) Assessment drives what students pay attention to, and defines the actual curriculum (Ramsden 1992). 2) Feedback is significant (Hattie, 2009; Black and Wiliam, 1998) 3) Programme is central to influencing change. Thinking about modules modulus (Latin): small measure “interchangeable units” “standardised units” “sections for easy constructions” “a self-contained unit” How well does IKEA 101 packaging work for Sociology 101? Furniture Student Learning Bite-sized Self-contained Interchangeable Quick and instantaneous Standardised Comes with written instructions Consumption Long and complicated Interconnected Distinctive Slow, needs deliberation Varied, differentiated Tacit, unfathomable, abstract Production What is TESTA? Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment HEA funded research project (2009-12) Seven programmes in four partner universities Maps programme-wide assessment Engages with Quality Assurance processes Diagnosis – intervention – cure TESTA ‘Cathedrals Group’ Universities Edinburgh Canterbury Christchurch Edinburgh Napier Glasgow Greenwich Sheffield Hallam University of West Scotland Lady Irwin College University of Delhi TESTA “…is a way of thinking about assessment and feedback” Graham Gibbs Based on assessment principles Time-on-task Challenging and high expectations Students need to understand goals and standards Prompt feedback Detailed, high quality, developmental feedback Dialogic cycles of feedback Deep learning – beyond factual recall TESTA Research Methods (Drawing on Gibbs and Dunbar-Goddet, 2008,2009) PROGRAMME AUDIT ASSESSMENT EXPERIENCE QUESTIONNAIRE FOCUS GROUPS Programme Team Meeting Case Study X: what’s going on? Mainly full-time lecturers Plenty of varieties of assessment, no exams Reasonable amount of formative assessment (14 x) 33 summative assessments Masses of written feedback on assignments (15,000 words) Learning outcomes and criteria clearly specified ….looks like a ‘model’ assessment environment But students: Don’t put in a lot of effort and distribute their effort across few topics Don’t think there is a lot of feedback or that it very useful, and don’t make use of it Don’t think it is at all clear what the goals and standards are …are unhappy Case Study Y: what’s going on? 35 summative assessments No formative assessment specified in documents Learning outcomes and criteria wordy and woolly Marking by global, tacit, professional judgements Teaching staff mainly part-time and hourly paid ….looks like a problematic assessment environment But students: Put in a lot of effort and distribute their effort across topics Have a very clear idea of goals and standards Are self-regulating and have a good idea of how to close the gap Two paradigms… Transmission Model Social Constructivist model Focus Group data In pairs/groups, read through quotes from student focus group data on a particular theme. What problems does the data imply? What solutions might a programme develop to address some of these challenges? A3 sheets provided to tease out challenges and solutions. Student voice data Challenges Solutions Theme 1: Formative is a great idea but… If there weren’t loads of other assessments, I’d do it. If there are no actual consequences of not doing it, most students are going to sit in the bar. I would probably work for tasks, but for a lot of people, if it’s not going to count towards your degree, why bother? The lecturers do formative assessment but we don’t get any feedback on it. Theme 2: Assessment isn’t driving and distributing student effort We could do with more assessments over the course of the year to make sure that people are actually doing stuff. We get too much of this end or half way through the term essay type things. Continual assessments would be so much better. So you could have a great time doing nothing until like a month before Christmas and you’d suddenly panic. I prefer steady deadlines, there’s a gradual move forward, rather than bam! Theme 3: Feedback is disjointed and modular The feedback is generally focused on the module. It’s difficult because your assignments are so detached from the next one you do for that subject. They don’t relate to each other. Because it’s at the end of the module, it doesn’t feed into our future work. You’ll get really detailed, really commenting feedback from one tutor and the next tutor will just say ‘Well done’. Theme 4: Students are not clear about goals and standards The criteria are in a formal document so the language is quite complex and I’ve had to read it a good few times to kind of understand what they are saying. Assessment criteria can make you take a really narrow approach. I don’t have any idea of why it got that mark. They read the essay and then they get a general impression, then they pluck a mark from the air. It’s a shot in the dark. We’ve got two tutors – one marks completely differently to the other and it’s pot luck which one you get. Main findings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Too much summative; too little formative Too wide a variety of assessment Lack of time on task Inconsistent marking standards ‘Ticking’ modules off Poor feedback: too little and too slow Lack of oral feedback; lack of dialogue about standards Instrumental reproduction of materials for marks Summative-formative issues 1. Students and staff can’t do more of both. 2. Reductions in summative – how many is enough? 3. Increase in formative – and make sure it is valued and required. 4. Debunking the myth of two summative per module. 5. Articulating rationale with students, lecturers, senior managers and QA managers. 1. Examples of ramping up formative The case of the under-performing engineers (Graham, Strathclyde) The case of the cunning (but not litigious) lawyers (Graham, somewhere) The case of the silent seminar (Winchester) The case of the lost accountants (Winchester) The case of the disengaged Media students (Winchester) 2. Examples of improving ‘time on task’ The case of low effort on Media Studies The case of bunching on the BA Primary 3. Engaging students in reflection through improving feedback The case of the closed door (Psychology) The case of the one-off in History (Bath Spa) The case of the Sports Psychologist (Winchester) The conversation gambit 4. Internalising goals and standards The case of the maverick History lecturer (a dove) The case of the highly individualistic creative writing markers Changes Programmatic Assessment Design Feedback Practice Paper processes to people talking Impacts Improvements in NSS scores on A&F – from bottom quartile in 2009 to top quartile in 2013 Three programmes with 100% satisfaction ratings post TESTA All TESTA programmes have some movement upwards on A&F scores Programme teams are talking about A&F and pedagogy Periodic review processes are changing for the better. www.testa.ac.uk References Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004) Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. 1(1): 3-31. Gibbs, G. & Dunbar-Goddet, H. (2009). Characterising programme-level assessment environments that support learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 34,4: 481-489. Hattie, J. (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research. 77(1) 81-112. Jessop, T. and Maleckar, B. (in press). The Influence of disciplinary assessment patterns on student learning: a comparative study. Studies in Higher Education. Jessop, T. , El Hakim, Y. and Gibbs, G. (2014) The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: a largescale study of students’ learning in response to different assessment patterns. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. 39(1) 73-88. Jessop, T, McNab, N & Gubby, L. (2012) Mind the gap: An analysis of how quality assurance processes influence programme assessment patterns. Active Learning in Higher Education. 13(3). 143-154. Nicol, D. (2010) From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher education, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35: 5, 501 – 517 Sadler, D.R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional Science, 18, 119-144.