Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Learning Design Tips for Course Teams: #1 Assessment and Feedback

This set of learning design tips are based around the putting some practical steps to the Nicol & MacFarlane-Dick, Principles of Good Feedback (which I use regular as a starting point with Course Teams).

However, before the tips, I have included some background context via the slides. These look at the why from three integrated perspectives; the Principles of Good Feedback, making time for feedback through the flipped classroom model, and evening out the assessment pattern.

The aims of the following checklist are to act as a discussion point for course teams, e-Learning Developers, Student Representatives, Learning Services and wider stakeholders when considering assessment and feedback within the course design.

These tips have been developed around the Viewpoints Curriculum Development Workshop developed by the University of Ulster. The format is to state the principle, its interpretation by the University of Ulster team, and list some suggested approaches course teams can use to meet this principle.

The hope is, based on this review and the examples used in the checklist the course team can redesign their assessment (summative and formative) process to make it more effective.

Principle: Encourage time and effort on task

To what extent do your assessment tasks encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than surface learning?
  1. reduce the size (limited word count) and increase the number of learning tasks (or assessments). Distribute these across the module [with distance learners need to spread the assessments throughout the module]
  2. make such tasks compulsory with minimal marks (5/10%) [need to focus on activity design which facilitates high order learning skills]
  3. give learners online multiple-choice tests to complete and feedback [provide regular, small MCQs and based on the results identify weaknesses]
  4. provide learners with mock exams / assessments so they have opportunities to experience what is required award fewer marks for early assessments or allocate all marks for the later / last ones [this can be incorporated with point 2]
Principle: Clarify good performance

To what extent do learners in your course have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task?
  1. provide explicit marking criteria and performance-level definitions for all assessments [these can be included as an item associated with the appropriate submission point / activity]
  2. provide opportunities for discussion and reflection about criteria and standards before learners engage in a learning task [as a distance learning course, you could provide a video overview of the criteria, supported with a discussion board activity]
  3. Provide learners with model answers for assessment tasks and opportunities to make comparisons against their own work [release a model answer document - key points, bullet points for student to compare]
  4. Before an assessment, let learners examine selected examples of completed assessments to identify which are superior and why (individually or in groups) [set up an activity where they mark an assessment using the criteria against model answers]
Principle: Deliver high quality feedback

What kind of teacher feedback do you provide - in what ways does it help learners self-assess and self-correct?
  1. provide opportunities for learners to work through problems sets in tutorials - where you can give immediate and timely feedback
  2. give plenty of documented feedback in advance of learners attempting an assessment, ie frequently occurring problems list
  3. give plenty of feedback at the point which they submit their work, ie., release a model answer after submission. Remember, learners are most receptive for feedback when they have just worked through their assessment
  4. ensure feedback is provided in relation to previously stated criteria as it helps link the feedback to the expected learning outcomes instead of providing the correct answer, point learners to where they can find the correct answer
  5. ask learners to self-assess their own work before submission and provide feedback on this self-assessment, as well as the assessment. This might be involving the cover sheet.
Principle: Provide opportunities to act on feedback

To what extent is feedback attended to and acted upon by learners and if so, in what ways?
  1. increase the number of opportunities for re-submission of assessments [for online learners this is technically easy to do, it will be about designing the learning activity to be scaleable from a staff perspective. It might include drafts, or peer-assessment of drafts]
  2. avoid releasing the grade for an assessment or task until the learner has responded to the feedback by commenting on it [can use the journal tool in LearnUCS for the students to comment on their feedback]
  3. ask learners to find one or two examples of feedback which they useful and get them to suggest how it will help them in future assignments [use the journal tool in LearnUCS, and find time to sign this off]
Principle: Encourage interaction and dialogue

What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue (peer and/or teacher-learner) around assessment tasks in your course?
  1. encourage learners to give each other feedback on assessment in relation to published criteria before submission
  2. create peer dialogue by creating group projects. Structure the tasks so they are expected to discuss criteria before submission
  3. use clickers and poll everywhere in class, or other appropriate in class feedback techniques
  4. support the development of learning groups and communities
  5. ask learners (in pairs) to produce MCQ tests with extensive feedback
Principle: Develop self-assessment and reflection

To what extent are there formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment in your course?
  1. structure opportunities for peers to assess and provide feedback on each others work
  2. use confidence based marking (CBM) where learners must rate their confidence that their answer is correct.
  3. use an assessment cover sheet with questions to encourage reflection and self-assessment before they hand it in. In particular, have they met the criteria, and estimate what mark they think they should be given (and why)
  4. directly involve learners in monitoring and reflecting on their own learning through e-portfolios. These reflections might be included within the low-stakes assessment.
  5. ask learners (in pairs) to produce MCQs over the duration of the module, with extensive feedback
Principle: Give assessment choice

To what extent do learners have choice in the topics, methods, criteria, weighting and/or timing of assessment tasks in your course?
  1. give learners the opportunity to select the topics or extended essays, to encourage ownership and increasing motivation
  2. require learner groups to generate the criteria (or some sub criteria) for the assessment and take these into account in the final assessment
  3. ask learners (in pairs) to produce MCQ tests with extensive feedback for key learning objectives, and let the rest of the group share these. A selection could be used in the final assessment
Principle: Inform and shape your teaching

To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes inform and shape your teaching?
  1. deploy one minute papers (students carry out a small assessment task, like a short answer question) and hand it in anonymously at the end of class. You use this to inform your teaching in the next session
  2. provide opportunities for frequent low-stakes assessment tasks with regular outputs to help gauge progress (online objective quiz with short answer feedback etc., or clickers & poll everywhere when in class)
  3. carry out a brief mid-term survey, so you have time to address major concerns
If you have any questions around incorporating TEL within your Learning Designs, please contact the Elevate Team within Learning Services (learningservices@ucs.ac.uk).
Image - With Thanks - http://pixabay.com/p-148815/?no_redirect

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