So we started with our quiz – and that led on to discussing the what, why and how of the Research Report (1000 words – due in W20), the forthcoming PERFORMANCE weeks and assessment. Oh – we handed work back also!
You gave some great replies to the opening question: What are the advantages of qualitative research? Qualitative research allows the gathering of the feelings and experiences of those who have lived the phenomenon that you are investigating. It is interpretist – as opposed to Quantitative Research – which is positivist. Postivism suggests that things, including people, can be fixed and knowable – interpretism suggests more fluidity – and therefore hints that change is possible. We argued that a qualitative approach is more suitable when investigating people’s experiences of social phenomena and that includes their experiences of the various educational forms and processes that you/we are investigating.
The Research Report
This led to a discussion of the forthcoming Research Report where you demonstrated that you knew that:
Findings: is where you summarise the key themes that you identified in the data that you collect from your participants.
Discussion: is where you discuss your themes – against the key ideas that you had discussed in your Literature Review.
Conclusion: is where you summarise the key themes discussed… and
Recommendations: is where you might suggest actions to be taken – by staff or students – in response to what you have discovered.
We noted that in a longer research project, like a dissertation, the production of interesting data might reveal that the Literature Review was not as useful as it might have been – that it offered no relevant ideas to use. In that case a good tip is to engage in more reading – and to improve the Literature Review… This shows that a good dissertation emerges from a cycle of reading – acting – reflecting – reading some more… Oh – just like any successful essay or report process, then!
We took some time to get into embryonic groups and to discuss ideas for your performances in weeks 23, 24, 25 and 26. YES – they are starting a bit earlier than we said in the module handbook – and we are having one more group this year. (If you missed the class – do find a group to join!)
The performance is where you take over the class – and it’s your opportunity to be really creative around the notions of teaching, learning or assessment. It can be a literal performance – we would love to see a LondonMet focussed version of Educating Rita – or you can design a session or a series of activities that make us think about education in new ways. It is up to you… and we hope that you have a great time – that you enjoy the challenge – that you surprise and delight us and each other. This can be something to reflect on in your portfolio and/or in the final essay – but much more than that – it is your time to shine!
Assessment: why oh why?
We moved on to consider the role of assessment in the life of a student… part discussion – part lecture.
What is Assessment?
Assessment of learning: designed to be a measure of what the student has achieved – against the course Aims and Learning Outcomes – and any specific Assessment Criteria for a task. Links to positivism in that it suggests that it is possible to achieve one accurate measurement – and that how, in society, one measurement can often be used to define a person: their ability, their IQ and often there worth as a human being.
Assessment for learning: designed to prompt students to actually take steps to learn the material with which they are engaging. We linked this to the opening quiz – and the fact that the quiz did indeed prompt people to revise their notes and to look up new terms and learn them. Although an extrinsic motivator for learning (in that it comes from outside of the learner) – once students see for themselves that such revision works, it can lead us to more active learning.
Assessment as learning: where assessment activities are seen as part of the learning process: that actively preparing an assignment means that people engage with the ideas and make sense of them for themselves – especially as they struggle to communicate effectively. Seeing assessment as process and as learning can help us to embrace the potential of the activities in which we engage – rather than just been focussed on the grade and the mark… It should help us see that one grade is not the measure of who and what we are!
Why do we assess?
Well – bodies that award qualifications that are portable and seen as valid and reliable require evidence upon which to base their awards – that is the function of assessment at the institutional level.
How do we assess?
Through portfolios, essays, reports, projects, dissertations, exams, presentations … each one has its own genre ‘rules’: its what/why/how – and these should be thought about when preparing an assignment. Tip: when we are preparing for the assignment itself it helps to consider the task – the question – the module aims and learning outcomes – and the rules of the genre with which we are engaging. All this can help us make the most of the assessment opportunity. As Tom says: it is the opportunity to show just how clever we are!
All of the thoughts on assessment we hope are useful to you now as students – and in your future roles of educationalists… not least we hope that you reflect on the different ways that you may want to assess your future students.
You cannot have a discussion on assessment without some discussion on the role of feedback. Good feedback is designed to show where we have done well in a particular assignment – and where we have not perhaps done so well. Errors range from practical things like not referencing properly – to deeper issues like missing out on key parts of the question – not reading the ‘right’ sources – not understanding or writing in sufficient depth. The best thing to do is to reflect on both our strengths – so we repeat them in other assignments – and our weaknesses – so we do something about them. Although feedback can provoke profound emotional responses (oh how we cried!); usually the tutor is not trying to destroy us – but is rather hoping that we notice their comments – and that we then do something about them.
Feedback is particularly useful in an iterative (repetitive) education system: where we visit information in lectures or workshops – discuss in seminars and through our coursework – and then develop further to discuss again via synoptic exam answers. This is why examinations are so popular in some circles… although they are typically not enjoyed by students.
And after all that preamble – work was handed back – grades were focussed upon (!!!) – but we also had the opportunity to speak with people to discuss what they had done well – what they could do differently next time…
Well done everybody!!