JISC has a long tradition of providing support and encouragement for innovative assessment activities, recognising the crucial role assessment plays in education and the significant concerns about the current state of university assessment and feedback repeatedly revealed by the National Student Survey, stimulus for the National Union of Students’ recent high profile Feedback Amnesty campaign.
Their latest work in this area is focused on a substantial programme of projects funded under the three strands of the current Assessment and Feedback Programme, covering institutional change, evidence and evaluation, and technology transfer. The twenty projects that successfully bid for funding under this programme address a wide range of assessment and feedback processes and educational contexts, illustrated by Grainne Hamilton’s excellent Storified account of the programme start up meeting earlier this month. These projects are focused on using technology to increase the quality and efficiency of assessment and feedback practice on a large scale. Crucially, there is a strong element of sharing running throughout the programme, both in supporting the transfer of technology to new institutions, and in sharing outcomes and learning from previous work to help support future practice – literally feeding forward to the future.
Strand A focuses on institutional change, with the eight projects funded reviewing and revising assessment and feedback processes and practices, and using technology to support major changes and best practice in their chosen area.
Feedback and Assessment for Students with Technology (FASTECH) is working with the Higher Education Academy-funded Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA) project to implement technology-enhanced assessment and feedback processes in a large number of degree programmes at Bath Spa and Winchester Universities. The project will learn about the approaches teachers and learners take to assessment and how technology can be used to affect this. In addition, a range of resources and support will be made available to support practitioners in transforming individual and institutional practice.
COLLABORATE: working with employers and students to design assessment enhanced by the use of digital technologies at the University of Exeter is focused on employability issues, and on ensuring that assessment is designed with students’ future career prospects firmly in mind. The project is structured around a series of collaborations: with employers, with programme and institutional teams, and with students and recent graduates, redesigning assessment to ensure that it is pedagogically sound and realistic in preparing students for life beyond graduation.
FAST (Feedback and Assessment Strategy Testing) led by Cornwall College is facing the intriguing issue of embedding technology-supported assessment in a geographic area which lacks full broadband roll out and with students whose ability to physically visit the college campus is limited by poor transport links or employment. A small-scale pilot on a small cohort in a single campus will be followed with full scale roll out in a Personal and Employability Development module studied by over 700 students on 43 different courses in seven different campuses. The information on technical and support issues encountered and methods adopted to overcome them will be disseminated to the wider community, as will model CPD packages for potential adoption in other institutions.
InterACT at the University of Dundee is also dealing with a rather unique student cohort. Providing continuing education and CPD for practicing doctors, their courses are entirely distance taught and, crucially, the timing of assessment submission is entirely at the discretion of the individual student. This leads to issues around timeliness of feedback and feed forward, which may have an impact on learner satisfaction and, subsequently, on retention. This project will examine the ways in which a range of technologies such as blogs, FriendFeed, VOIP, webinars and chat tools can enable personalised, timely and focused feedback that encourages reflection and engagement, and enhances the student experience.
The timeliness and effectiveness of feedback is also a focus of the Integrating Technology-Enhanced Assessment Methods (iTEAM) project at the University of Hertfordshire, which is exploring the ways in which electronic voting systems and increased embedding of QuestionMark Perception can be used to provide prompt personalised feedback. A student dashboard will be developed to integrate information from EVS, QMP, the institution’s Managed Learning Environment (MLE) and other relevant sources to provide a central point for information on a student’s performance across all subjects, enabling personal tutors to provide meaningful and personalised support and students to better understand their own learning behaviours.
The Institute of Education’s Assessment Careers: enhancing learning pathways through assessment project will explore the construction of assessment frameworks, incorporating multi-stage assessment and structured feedback and feed forward. There is a strong emphasis on assessment as an holistic whole rather than single, stand-alone events, with assessment instances part of a larger learning journey rather than marking the end point of a phase of study. The framework will be piloted in a number of Masters modules, with learner and tutor experiences then informing the model as it is scaled up for use on an institutional level.
TRAFFIC: TRansforming Assessment + Feedback for Institutional Change at Manchester Metropolitan University builds on MMU’s work in the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery programme to implement an institution-wide assessment transformation programme. The project will undertake an extremely thorough review of assessment across the institution, explore ways in which technology can enhance and support assessment and feedback processes, and provide a very rich range of resources for the broader community.
eAFFECT: eAssessment and Feedback for Effective Course Transformation is the culmination of a range of activities examining assessment and feedback processes undertaken recently at Queen’s University Belfast. The project will examine staff and student approaches to assessment, in particular addressing concerns about workload, learning styles and how technology can support transformation in assessment processes. A practice-based website and extensive supporting documentation will help individual practitioners and institutional change managers apply the lessons of this project to their own contexts.