Recent Submissions

  • Team-based Learning: Engaging learners and creating team accountability

    de Vries, J.; Tweddell, Simon; McCarter, Rebecca (2018-06)
    Team-based Learning (TBL) is a new teaching strategy that may take small group learning to a new level of effectiveness. TBL shifts the focus from content delivery by teachers to the application of course content by student teams. Teams work on authentic problems, make collaborative decisions, and develop problem-solving skills required in their future workplace. Prior to redesigning the MPharm programme according to TBL principles, several pilots were set up to research how students responded to this new way of teaching. One pilot focussed on the introduction of TBL as a phenomena and aimed to find out if and how TBL engaged students, how students were held accountable by their teams, and more importantly how that affected their lifeworld. Ashworth’s lifeworld contingencies provided the theoretical framework as it ranges from students’ selfhood, embodiment and social interactions to their ability to carry out tasks they are committed to and regard as essential (Ashworth, 2003).
  • Improving Work Based Assessment: Addressing grade inflation numerically or pedagogically?

    Robbins, Joy; Firth, Amanda; Evans, Maria (2018)
    Work based assessment (WBA) is a common but contentious practice increasingly used to grade university students on professional degrees. A key issue in WBA is the potentially low assessment literacy of the assessors, which can lead to a host of unintended results, including grade inflation. We identified grade inflation in the WBA of the clinical module analysed for this study, and to address it we trialled two adjustments over a four-year period. The first and simpler adjustment, reducing the academic weighting of the WBA component of the module, appeared to lower grade inflation but actually had the inverse effect over time. The second adjustment, introducing a structured formative assessment, reduced the average WBA grade both initially and over time. In addition to this desired result, the second adjustment has brought ongoing benefits to the learning and teaching on the module as a whole.
  • Freeing the hoop jumpers: Eportfolio assessment to raise learner engagement on PgCert HE programmes

    Robbins, Joy; Dermo, John M.S. (2016-09)
    The idea of professional development has gradually become an accepted and established part of teaching in higher education (Dearing, 1997; DfES, 2003; Browne, 2010). It is now the norm for new university teaching staff in the UK to complete a postgraduate certificate in Higher Education Practice, Learning and Teaching in HE, or Academic Practice as recommended or even mandatory initial professional development (Laycock & Shrives, 2009). While these certificate programmes are now well-established in the sector and are valued for raising the profile of university teaching and educational scholarship (Shrives, 2012), it is not uncommon for learners to view them as a hoop-jumping exercise, and therefore adopt strategic approaches to get through the programme, resulting in disappointing learning gains. We present an analysis of the barriers to engagement that can cause PgCert learners to take such a hoop jumping approach to their programme, drawing from policy, literature, and participant views. We then propose a teaching and assessment model to address these barriers using an eportfolio approach. While eportfolio use is not new in PgCert programmes and staff development, for example being used notably at York St. John University where learners create a portfolio to evidence how they meet the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and use it as an ‘aide memoire’ in a summatively assessed dialogue (Asghar, 2014), the challenges to engagement for our learners that the current study found lead us to propose a different portfolio approach. There is of course no single right way to design deep learning into a PgCert programme, but we hope that the research-informed eportfolio model presented here may be useful to other practitioners who seek, like us, to remove the hoops from reflective teaching practice.
  • Assessing understanding of complex learning outcomes and real-world skills using an authentic software tool: a study from biomedical sciences

    Dermo, John M.S.; Boyne, James R. (2014)
    We describe a study conducted during 2009-12 into innovative assessment practice, evaluating an assessed coursework task on a final year Medical Genetics module for Biomedical Science undergraduates. An authentic e-assessment coursework task was developed, integrating objectively marked online questions with an online DNA sequence analysis tool (BLAST), routinely used by NHS and research professionals. The aim was to combine the assessment of understanding of complex module learning outcomes with real-world authentic skills highly valued in the work place. This approach challenges the oft-heard accusation that online computer-marked tests can lack validity and authenticity in higher education. The study demonstrates the content and construct validity of this form of e-assessment, showing that careful question design, allied with integration with the real life BLAST tool, enables instructors to assess complex higher order understanding, and requires students to demonstrate skills relevant for the work place. A study of three years of test results and measures of internal consistency data also show the reliability of this assessment. In addition, the results of surveys of student opinion and positive feedback from student module feedback questionnaires suggest that it is effective in terms of face validity.