Making learning authentic: ‘real-world’ assessments for Masters level study

Workshop presented by Jude Brereton, Lecturer (T&S) in Audio and Music Technology, Deparment of Electronics. 30 January 2017.

Jude presented in her workshop the assessment method developed for her Masters students which can be adapted and implemented with any students, from any discipline, as it can be tailor-made and used in most modules, thus ensuring its relevancy, authenticity and meaningfulness.

When Jude devised the new assessment, she reflected on the experience of her alumni to help future students build a portfolio – making them aware of how important it is to develop their employability skills -, that they would be able to show to prospective employers, something that in her own words, would ‘survive beyond the programme’. Jude developed the assessment for a brand new MSc in Audio Music Technology taking into account the module learning outcomes and programme level learning outcomes as well as other essential criteria needed to design the new 180-credit Masters course.

She wanted students to be highly motivated in their learning and while working on their assessments, being able to both see the benefits and enjoy the process, incorporating active learning and Problem Based Learning (PBL), widely used in the Department of Electronics. Assessment tasks had to be real, not ‘pretend’ real, but actually authentic, and challenging for Masters level students. It is important to note that although the term ‘authentic’ means real, also carries the connotation of meaningful, and what is meaningful for one person might not be the same for another and so on. Therefore, when designing ‘authentic’ assessment it must be diverse and inclusive – appealing to the broad spectrum of learners, their interests and personalities.

Recently, Jude was told by an international employer that a degree was not considered essential for his company, as long as a candidate could demonstrate the appropriate professional attitude, ability, innovative thinking and could do the things that they would be expected to do at the workplace – someone with the desirable transferable skills. The employer added that for them the most important requirement was to be able to programme. Furthermore, the ideal candidate would be someone with cross-discipline skills, who could appreciate the final product, being able to work and develop the different layers of the task/job: someone who could do and understand both software and hardware; who could do programming and was able to appreciate music – in Jude’s field – aesthetically; who could do Maths but also would know how to reflect and write about the job and the process; someone who knows all the technical words but at the same time is able to communicate and engage with the general public. As Jude has put it, the future is ‘hybrid’: in this day and age, mastering one thing is not good enough; her advice to students is to do as much as you can – variety and quality – and to make sure you can show it.

In the workshop Jude also showed how she uses Google Docs to share and follow group work and provide individual feedback to each group.

Zepke’s and Leach’s article titled Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action (2010) clearly resonates behind Jude’s assessment model – follow the hyperlink to access it.

Click here to view Jude Brereton’s presentation

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L&T Session A3: The design and assessment of skills based learning points at York Law School

Chris Wilkinson and Patrick Gallimore, York Law School

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

What do our undergraduates do with degrees? In this workshop Chris Wilkinson and Patrick Gallimore explored the relevance of a law degree to wider education and employment.

The majority of students who embark on a law degree do so with the ambition of gaining employment in the legal sector. However, only about 50% of graduates pursue a career in law, with the other 50% choosing to look outside the legal sector. With this in mind how meaningful is a law degree to other professions and disciplines?

At York Law School thLT Event Talk 61.jpgey have introduced a Careers and Development Programme, which provides students with the opportunity to attend link days and employer events, as well as being involved in mentoring schemes and attending careers presentations and workshops. The Careers and Development Programme has been designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills that students need to make informed decisions about their future work, and the opportunities available to them. The programme aims to balance its appeal to both the students who would like work within the legal profession and those who want to work outside of it.    

Employability skills are also embedded in the core curriculum through the problem based learning that the students are engaged in and the legal skills modules. Students engage in collaborative learning through the student law firms to work on the weekly problems, which are linked to skills simulations which involve a collection of transactions taking place over a couple of weeks, for example a client interview, case evaluation, draft letter. The simulations provide students with the opportunity to apply legal theory and knowledge, through experience of different scenarios.

The presentation ended with a lively discussion about changes to the legal education and how other departments have approach employability.  

 

L&T Session C1: Making learning authentic: ‘real world’ assessments for masters level study

Jude Brereton,  Department of Electronics

AbstractPresentation | Recording

This workshop reported  on recent “real-world” assessment tasks incorporated into a new masters level programme in Audio and Music Technology.

LT Event Talk 128.jpg

‘Real-world’ tasks are those which exist outside the ‘walls’ of the University campus e.g. they have their own life beyond the confines of the classroom and assessment submission.

Four different types of ‘real-world’ tasks were presented:

  • a research blog
  • a data-gathering exercise made available to the wider research community
  • a science communication event for school students
  • a self-promotion video

The student work and staff input for each of these assessments was described, alongside feedback from students who have successfully graduated from this programme. In particular student feedback on what they themselves thought they learnt from each activity and whether the activities had a life beyond graduation. The benefits of using authentic assessments in widening participation and embedding employability into programmes was evaluated.

Workshop participants were invited to explore the use of ‘real-world’ assessments in their own programmes.


Jude’s session allowed participants to consider the link between the discipline and the application of it beyond the course and institution. Within the session we explored a design process that first considers the learning outcomes you wish students to achieve, then generate ideas for different scenarios of involving people outside the institution to bridge the theory-practice gap. Take one of these scenarios further by identifying any constraints/risks and how these can be mitigated to still allow students a realistic practice-based experience meeting the learning outcomes.

What emerged were some very creative responses from participants, in many cases drawing upon the research expertise of the lecturer to identify where the theory-practice opportunities exist. In terms of employability, students through doing such forms of ‘real-world’ assessment have an experience they can refer to in their job applications and personal development plans.

The types of ‘real-world’ assessment demonstrated encouraged students to produce public-facing outputs, via videos and blogs. The E-Learning Development Team can support you in devising these activities and delivering training to enable students to create their own videos. See a similar approach in our Case Study provided by Sara Perry, Archaeology.

Matt Cornock (ELDT), Workshop Chair

Happy New Year and welcome back

Happy New Year! We hope you had a relaxing and recuperative Christmas break…

We are already in the thick of term, but whether you are emerging from piles of marking, working with final year students on their dissertations and projects, planning lectures, or all of these and more all at once, we hope you might find time to take a break and come along to one of our Learning and Teach Forum workshops this term.

the20workshop-218x105We kick off with ‘the Workshop’ workshop on Friday 29 January, 12:45-2:15pm in Law and Managment LMB/023, where Celine Kingman (TFTV) and Jenny Gibbons (Law) ask what we mean by ‘workshopping an idea’ or ‘to do a workshop’?

computer20based20testing-218x142On Monday 8 February, 12:30-2:00pm, you can hear from Zoe Handley (Education) and Richard Walker (Head of E-Learning, ASO) discuss the potential of e-exams in their workshop, ‘Engaging learners with computer-based testing‘, in Heslington Hall HG/21.

 

technology-218x145Sara Perry (Archaeology) and Tom Smith (IT Support) return to talk about technology in practice, in ‘Creativity in the connected classroom‘, covering everything from social media and networking to Google apps, tools and Awesome Tables. How awesome, you ask? Find out on Monday 22 February, 12:30-2:00pm, also in Heslington Hall HG/21.

a20question20of20peer20assessment-218x105The last workshop of the term, on Tuesday 15 March, 12:30-2:00pm, looks at the role of peer-review and assessment, led by  Ollie Jones (TFTV). More details can be found at ‘Deep learning or easy marks? A question of peer assessment.’

For all these workshops, you can sign up via this booking form or by emailing learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk

team20image-218x348Don’t forget that in June we will hold our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference – Value added graduates: enabling our students to be successful – on Tuesday 7 June. The deadlines for applications to contribute and present are coming up: Wednesday 20 January for workshops, and Wednesday 6 April for posters.

And lastly, if you have ideas for any workshops for 2016/17 you think you would like to see, or perhaps run yourself, we are always looking for ideas and volunteers – drop us a line at learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk.

Have a great term!

 

 

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: One size does not fit all: ensuring all students reach their potential


Logo_LTConf2015_Rev2The 2015 Learning and Teaching conference was held on 10 June 2015, with almost 150 delegates, from across the university and externally present. This is the University’s annual event to celebrate, showcase and disseminate the wealth of good practice in learning and teaching across the University.

This year, the main conference theme was based around addressing inclusivity, diversity and equality within the classroom and curricula. The conference will explore the implications of diversifying delivery of programmes and how students are supported in the process of achieving their potential.

Session summaries and materials are now available for the sessions.

L&T Session H – Personalising feedback: Can we bridge the formative-summative gap?

Cathy Dantec and Bill Soden – Language and Linguistic Science and Education

Abstract | Presentation: Session H

Report
The workshop provided us with two perspectives on how the practice of providing formative feedback has developed and its links and implications for summative assessment.LT-Forum-06-15-95

Both Bill and Cathy described how they had used screencasts to provide formative feedback to students. While this had proved popular with students they questioned how effective it had been to support learning. In particular they were both concerned with its potential to reinforce reliance on the teacher for direction, undermining efforts to produce student autonomy and self-correction as well as difficulty in getting this type of feedback to “feedforward” to subsequent assessment.

Cathy described how she has taken some of the ideas around providing targeted feedback to students and incorporated iterative student development (feed forward) and peer review and critique through the development of a summative student writing portfolio that is embedded across the first year of the French Degree programme.

Participants discussion addressed issues such as the nature of formative feedback, differences between disciplines and barriers to its use.

As ever there wasn’t nearly enough time to unpack all the issues in this thoroughly thought provoking session and I look forward to seeing the discussion continue online using the comments feature below.

Simon Davies, e-learning development team