Day 4: Assessment and Feedback (that works)

Pastel coloured houses.
Plain brick wall.
Shared on Pixabay with CCO licence.

In Day 4, #creativeHE looks at the perennial issue of Assessment and Feedback – in particular, how to include aspects of creativity into the process.

Sandra starts out by linking to a blog post using “Little Boxes on the Hillside” as an introduction to aspects of innovation in assessment (lyrics) – she then asks us to think of songs and how they could link to assessment.

My first thought was Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall (lyrics)

Thinking about how I’d link both to innovation in assessment didn’t take long. Little Boxes has learners being the same, Brick in the Wall has the teacher very much in control. Few staff believe in either, so it wasn’t unduly hard to make the links.

Lets start thinking about Little Boxes – how can I allow students to really demonstrate how they’re unique? In my teaching, I’ve always tried to be innovative, and have included aspects such as assessing contributions to discussion boards, participation in Social media etc, and have encouraged them to use those in ways that suit the way they’ve interpreted their learning.  One issue that I have struggled with other the years, if I am asking students to “reflect” – do they really reflect for themselves and their learning, or are they just following some kind of pattern for writing reflections – as NomadWarMachine notes in the blog post linked from the #creativeHE post above. [As an aside, I’ve used a quote by Rowling often in sessions on reflection for students – See page 3 of Reflective Writing Guidance notes for students (Watton, Collings & Moon 2001) ] It’s a difficult one, perhaps others can suggest how they’ve tried to get students to reflect for themselves – but to also share those thoughts with another. (It’s probably never going to work, few tell others what they’re “really” thinking)

If we now move to Brick in the Wall; how to move away from the teacher being seen as the one in control. For the last several years that I was teaching, I got students involved with the development of a rubric as part of the assessment.  I’d tried various different approaches, but, the final time I tried it, there were several stages. Initially, as a group they developed the rubric (each time I did the activity, I became acutely aware of how little students really understood the generic criteria in use across the University). Once developed, they had to use it for self & peer marking, and I also used it, to mark the same artefact. The final time, however, I added in as a final reflection on that process, getting students to think both about the value of peer / self reflection generally – and whether the final year was too late to introduce it, but I also got them to critique the tool they’d developed.

Pastel coloured houses.
“Little Boxes on the Hillside” flickr photo by Thomas Hawk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Finally, a shout out for the next Learning X – which is going to be on Innovation in Assessment.

Rubrics and Grading forms – the benefits they bring to staff and students

A rubric

A rubric
By Cleonard1973 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As part of the Learning X – Live sessions we would like to invite you to our first session with guest presenters.

We welcome Jenny Woof  and Susie Schofield, who have both used rubrics for marking students work.
The outline for the session will be:

  • An overview of the benefits that using a rubric / grading form can bring to the marking process (Susie)
  • Case study of the way they have been used in Biological and Biomedical Sciences. (Jenny)
  • Group activity – looking at existing rubrics – whether on paper or electronic, and to start to develop new rubrics / grading forms.
  • Technical – short overview of the process of getting from a paper rubric to a Turnitin one. (Emma)

Time / Date: Tuesday November 28th, 2:00 till 4:00 in the Strawberry Bank Ideas Lab (mid floor of the library)

All staff welcome, but please register your intention to come via Eventbrite

Don’t forget, we also have a “How to” session on Wednesday 22nd, looking specifically at using rubrics and quickmarks in Turnitin. (Bookable)

a group of people, some seated, some standing, some with laptops, some out. Lots of speech bubbles
Source: Shared with CC0 licence on Pixabay

Day 4: Adding Interactivity 1 (Quizzes)

Head, full of cogwheels and a questionmark

Head, full of cogwheels and a questionmark
Created by “Tumisu”; shared on Pixaby with CC0 licence.

Most academics know that students value having formative assessment within a module (even if they don’t always access it as often as you might like). Today, we’ll have a look at the Quiz tools that are in My Dundee, and some of the other options that you might want to us, to enable students to engage with formative assessment.

If you haven’t looked at the quiz tools in My Dundee for some time, you might be pleasantly surprised to find the range of question types that are now available.

Click larger version

Blackboard has descriptions of all the question types, and information about scoring options etc.

As formative assessment is primarily to find out what students don’t know, so that they can learn it, one useful trick can be, rather than thinking of multiple choice questions to cover key facts, to have short answer questions – that aren’t automatically graded. You can then skim the answers given by students, and give support in class for common misconceptions. (This method can also be useful to start to build up possible answers for multiple choice, as you’ll be including common errors, rather than errors you think the students might make).

Another option for involving students in this process is Peerwise. It allows you to get students to create multiple choice questions for each other – which gets them to engage with the content, and to identify what the key concepts are.

David Martin (Life Sciences) has used this, and has a playlist of videos to help you get going as a tutor. (Hint: To start, click on the “Get Started” link in the upper right of the screen, don’t try to find Dundee in the large search box!)

How would you see your use of formative assessment in your modules? Do they lend themselves well to multiple choice and other objective question types, or do you feel there are other ways that work better with your cohort?

What do you feel about peer / self assessment? Both My Dundee and Turnitin allow you to set up peer assessments for essays etc, to allow students to reflect on each other’s work – and both allow you to create a series of questions to help the students comment on others work.

If there are any students reading this – what are your feelings on self/peer assessment? Have you had to take part in peer assessment, either at University, or in school/College? What value did you get from having your work peer assessed? What  did you gain from assessing someone else’s?

Blackboard quiz creator

If you are using the basic question types in Blackboard, there are a number of sites that allow you to create a file of questions, and import them into Blackboard.

  • Newcastle – this allows you to include feedback; and it creates a zip file for import into a pool. Once you have input your text, click the “Blackboard” button to generate the zip file.
  • College of DuPage – an overview of other’s tools, (including Southern Idaho, who developed the original tool).

Supporting research

  • Kivunja, C. (2015). Why Students Don’t Like Assessment and How to Change Their Perceptions in 21st Century Pedagogies. Creative Education6(20), 2117–2126.
    Covers assessment generally, rather than just formative, but makes suggestions for approaches to assessment generally.
  • Raes, A., Vanderhoven, E., & Schellens, T. (2015). Increasing anonymity in peer assessment by using classroom response technology within face-to-face higher education. Studies in Higher Education40(1), 178-193.
    While this looks at Classroom response technology, it covers peer assessment generally. The options we have in Turnitin and Blackboard allow for the peer assessment to be anonymous.

The Distracted classroom

series of posts on The Chronicle of Higher Education, looking how technology can distract students, but also how staff can use it to engage students in the classroom.

Question the guru

Many of you will have read Phil Race’s books, and will have seen some of his presentations. In August, he’s offering to answer your questions! August Project: your questions please . So far, he’s not shared any questions on his site, could someone from Dundee be the first?!

As we all know designing MCQs isn’t as easy as it could be. You may have seen this before, as Phil Race uses it frequently – though it’s been used by quite a lot of others, and appears to have originated in Australia.