Monday, November 10, 2008

Re-Engineering Assessment Practices in Scottish Higher Education

This is a really useful set of resources, published by Strathclyde University, and funded by the Scottish Funding Council. The website is

Some of the reources include:

Principles of good formative assessment and feedback.

  1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards).
    To what extent do students in your course have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task?
  2. Encourage ‘time and effort’ on challenging learning tasks.
    To what extent do your assessment tasks encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than surface learning?
  3. Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct.
    What kind of teacher feedback do you provide – in what ways does it help students self-assess and self-correct?
  4. Provide opportunities to act on feedback (to close any gap between current and desired performance)
    To what extent is feedback attended to and acted upon by students in your course, and if so, in what ways?
  5. Ensure that summative assessment has a positive impact on learning?
    To what extent are your summative and formative assessments aligned and support the development of valued qualities, skills and understanding.
  6. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer and teacher-student.
    What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue (peer and/or tutor-student) around assessment tasks in your course?
  7. Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning.
    To what extent are there formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment in your course?
  8. Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of assessments.
    To what extent do students have choice in the topics, methods, criteria, weighting and/or timing of learning and assessment tasks in your course?
  9. Involve students in decision-making about assessment policy and practice.
    To what extent are your students in your course kept informed or engaged in consultations regarding assessment decisions?
  10. Support the development of learning communities
    To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes help support the development of learning communities?
  11. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem.
    To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes activate your students’ motivation to learn and be successful?
  12. Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teaching
    To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes inform and shape your teaching?

Principles of good assessment design

Assessment design should:

  1. Engage students actively in identifying or formulating criteria
  2. Facilitate opportunities for self-assessment and reflection
  3. Deliver feedback that helps students self-correct
  4. Provide opportunities for feedback dialogue (peer and tutor-student)
  5. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
  6. Provide opportunities to apply what is learned in new tasks
  7. Yield information that teachers can use to help shape teaching
  8. Capture sufficient study time and effort in and out of class
  9. Distribute students’ effort evenly across topics and weeks.
  10. Engage students in deep not just shallow learning activity
  11. Communicates clear and high expectations to students.

Universities Face Degree Revolution

At least, that was the headline in the Observer on 9/11/08.

This week DIUS will publish a series of papers which will consider the following: "Traditional university degrees may be radically overhauled, with thousands more students studying part-time, employers funding degrees and universities forced to reveal what benefit they actually give to students."

One of the papers which will argue that the cost of higher education is 'beginning to erode and blur the current distinction between full-time and part-time study', with two-thirds of full-timers doing paid jobs during term, has been written by Christine King.

Other proposals mooted in the article include:
  • Greater flexibility in the way people study in HE
  • Universities publishing more detail of student outcomes
  • Changes to the academic year
  • Review of the degree classification system.
All in all, a fundamental look at how universities operate - watch this space!

The Observer also published a feature in the review section of the paper on "Does a degree really set you up for life."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

International Student Recruitment - the Obama Effect

An article on the Guardian website, suggests that Barack Obama winning the US election could have an effect on UK universities who recruit overseas students.

Since 9/11 UK Universities have benefited form tighter visa restrictions for those wishing to enter the US. However relaxation of US visa rules, at the same time as a tightening of UK visa regulations, together with the feel good factor of a Democratic win could have a major effect on recruitment of overseas students into the UK.

More details here.