The challenge of assessing reflection

Report
Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships
Working for social justice in higher education
www.open.ac.uk/accessobservatory
Inclusive Assessment in Practice
The Challenge of Assessing
Reflection:
The Open University Access Programme
John Butcher, Stefanie Sinclair, Anactoria Clarke
Context
 Critical evaluation of assessment of reflection in Arts
and languages Access module (Y031)
 Y031 is one of three new L0 Access modules. Includes
a range of assessed/non-assessed reflective tasks.
 30 credits, 30 weeks, designed for WP students new
to HE with limited prior qualifications, offering
additional preparation to build confidence to succeed
in L1 UG qualifications.
Issues
How does the assessment of reflective tasks
affect students’ perception of and
engagement with reflective tasks?
How do tutors view the transition to a more
formal assessment of reflective tasks?
Literature
 30 years since key texts theorising reflection
 (Boud, Kolb, Schon). Recently, persistent advocates but
strong critiques around contested areas of learner
engagement, deep reflection and assessment of reflection.
 Reflection in HE: Cowan 2013, Dyment & O’Connell 2011,
Moon 2001, 2006, Race 2010.
 Inclusive assessment in HE: Butcher et al 2010, Gravestock
2006, Hockings 2010, McDowell 2008.
 Formative feedback in HE: Evans 2013, Nicol 2007, 2009, &
McFarlane-Dick 2006, Shute 2008.
How?
 Online survey to Y031 13J students
 Telephone interviews with sample of Y031 tutors
 Analysis of tutor feedback and PT3 assessment
summary on sample of marked TMAs
Findings: what worked?
 Some students spent time on, and thought carefully about
reflective tasks if assessed, perceiving them as important
skills in dealing with future studies.
 Some tutors felt assessing reflection made students take it
more seriously, enhancing active, independent study skills
and progression as distance learners.
 If tutors targeted feedback on reflection as a positive
aspect of learning (not a ‘problem to be solved’), trusting
dialogic learning resulted.
 Younger students more confident in reflecting.
 Students found most helpful activities where they could
reflect on how they used their tutor’s feedback.
Findings:
what needs improving?
 Reflection challenges Access students - some
perceive reflection as waste of time (describing
rather than analysing), prioritising content, so tutors
need to support reflection pro-actively.
 Students with negative prior educational experience
need to trust their tutor to reflect honestly:
quality/quantity of feedback is crucial.
 Tutors need to be more confident about assessing
reflection (assigning a % grade)
Reflection on findings
 Access learners can be vulnerable, lack study resilience and
be at risk of early withdrawal.
 Tutor feedback is crucial to student success
 Prior educational experience of Access students may not
have been positive, they may not value the skills and
experiences they bring to their first taste of HE.
 Tutor trust/support are critical to student persistence
 Tutors may be committed to the benefit of reflection, but
lack confidence in grading/feeding back on reflection.
Assessment is an issue.
 Tutors need to be competent in assessing reflection
Recommendations
 Be explicit why students are asked to reflect: include a
definition, amplify purpose, scaffold ‘prompts’, prioritise
monitoring.
 Reflective activities need to be embedded into an iterative
learning process, and an integrated curriculum and
assessment design, combining assessed and non-assessed
reflective tasks
 To prompt greater dialogue with the tutor, assess
reflective tasks: interaction is cumulative.
 Tutors need further staff development to build confidence
and skills in the assessment of reflection (exemplars of %
grading & feedback).
Inclusive assessment
 How can the assessment of reflective tasks support
Widening Participation?
 In what way can the assessment of reflective tasks be
regarded as inclusive assessment?
Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships
Working for social justice in higher education
www.open.ac.uk/accessobservatory
Dr John Butcher
Deputy Director, CICP
[email protected]
Dr Stefanie Sinclair
Chair of Y031, Lecturer in Religious Studies
[email protected]
Dr Anactoria Clarke
Regional Manager Y031
[email protected]
Any questions?

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