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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Thanks but no-thanks for the feedback

AJC ELF A timely article which chimes with discussions yesterday in our departmental ELF (Enhancing Learning Forum) meeting. Forsythe and Johnson's paper leans on Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset theory, so it's immediately attractive to me. It confirms my biases by having bad things to say about anonymous marking:
"The push towards anonymous, online marking can mean that personal feedback sessions are an incompatible part of the assessment and feedback loop. Anonymous marking is disruptive to the process because it prevents the tutor from giving connected guidance to students on their progress..."

Worth a read then.




Thanks, but no-thanks for the feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 05 Jul 2016 DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1202190
Feedback is an emotional business in which personal disposition influences what is attended to, encoded, consolidated and eventually retrieved. Here, we examine the extent to which students’ perceptions of feedback and their personal dispositions can be used to predict whether they appreciate, engage with and act on the feedback that they receive. The study is framed in psychological theories of mindset, defensive behaviours and new psychometric measures of the psychological integration of assessment feedback. Results suggest that, in this university population, growth mindset students were in the minority. Generally, students are fostering self-defensive behaviours that fail to nurture remediation following feedback. Recommendations explore the implications for students who engage in self-deception, and the ways in which psychologists and academics may intercede to help students progress academically by increasing their self-awareness.





Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Dissecting the assessment treadmill

We over assess students because it is difficult to motivate them to engage without frequent deadlines. But what are the the true effects of frequent assessment? This new paper describes a well conducted study of frequent assessment on Dutch Engineering students (n=219). Using principal component analysis the authors identified and analyzed four elements of assessment:

  • Value - how much value students attribute to frequent assessments: assessment is popular with students (= "value for money"?)
  • Formative function - no evidence that frequent testing had any formative value!
  • Positive effects and Negative effects - no strong cohort wide evidence for either of these (although they may affect individuals).

Summary: Assessment is popular with students but has no demonstrable educational value!


Students’ perception of frequent assessments and its relation to motivation and grades in a statistics course: a pilot study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 03 Jul 2016 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1204532
This pilot study measures university students’ perceptions of graded frequent assessments in an obligatory statistics course using a novel questionnaire. Relations between perceptions of frequent assessments, intrinsic motivation and grades were also investigated. A factor analysis of the questionnaire revealed four factors, which were labelled value, formative function, positive effects and negative effects. The results showed that most students valued graded frequent assessments as a study motivator. A modest number of students experienced positive or negative effects from assessments and grades received. Less than half of the students used the results of frequent assessments in their learning process. The perception of negative effects (lower self-confidence and more stress) negatively mediated the relation between grades and intrinsic motivation. It is argued that communication with students regarding the purpose and benefits of frequent assessments could mitigate these negative effects.




Monday, July 04, 2016

Xenotransplantation and the future of human organ transplants

Figshare It's always a pleasure when a student working on a final year project produces a piece of work which is worthy of a wider audience beyond examiners. I was in this fortunately position this year. Unfortunately, I was not in the position of being able to spend months of my time on the tortuous process of negotiating a paper into a traditional journal, so we decided to go down the Open Access route. My first thought was to try the relatively new bioRxiv, but the paper was rejected by them because they do not publish theses (so only partly open access then). After that it was back to the trusty figshare:

Morgan, Owen; Cann, Alan J. (2016): Xenotransplantation and the future of human organ transplants. figshare. https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3467228.v1






Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Microsoft Forms


I'm still trying to unpack the multitude of components of Office 365 and map them onto a vision of a loosely-joined VLE. Last week we figured out that OneNote Class Notebook (an administrative tool for OneNote) is an LMS add-in rather than a freestanding product. It's not clear whether the new Microsoft Forms is the same or not, but I'd certainly like to get my hands on it and kick the tyres.


Microsoft Forms - a new formative assessment and survey tool in Office 365 Education



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Student peer review

Peer review I'd love to add a peer-review layer to a module I teach in which student write research proposal - but with the salami slicing of module credits, who's got the time?


Student peer review: enhancing formative feedback with a rebuttal. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 13 Jun 2016 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1194368
This study examines the use of peer review in an undergraduate ecology programme, in which students write a research proposal as a grant application, prior to carrying out the research project. Using a theoretical feedback model, we compared teacher and student peer reviews in a double blind exercise, and show how students responded to feedback given by each group. In addition, students wrote a rebuttal for every feedback point before re-drafting and submission. Despite students claiming they could tell if the reviewer was a teacher or student, this was not always the case, and both student and teacher feedback was accepted on merit. Analysis of feedback types and rebuttal actions showed similar patterns between students and teachers. Where teachers differed slightly was in the use of questions and giving direction. Interviews with students showed the rebuttal was a novel experience, because it required a consideration of each comment and justification as to why it was accepted, partially accepted or rejected. Being a reviewer helped students to learn about their own work, and it changed the way they understood the scientific literature. In addition, some students transferred their new peer review skills to help others outside of the ecology programme.





Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Unpacking a little more Microsoft Office 365 confusion

Office 365 Yesterday I wrote that I found Office 365 confusing. Digging around, I found this about some of the different options available:

  • Office 365 is a subscription service that includes the most recent version of Office, which currently is Office 2016. It comes with the applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, plus extra online storage and ongoing tech support.
  • Office 2016 is also sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office applications for one computer.
  • Office Online is the free version of Office that you can use in your web browser. Try the Office Online apps.


It seems to me that any movement towards Office 365 as a VLE replacement is a group work requirement. Office 365 has groups:



On a related theme, I clearly need to get to grips with the OneNote Class Notebook, all the more so because MS has just announced that this is now available for Macs.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Microsoft Office Mix

Office Mix Microsoft Office Mix looks interesting, but after 5 minutes of scratching the surface, seems to have holes in it.

Doesn't currently work on Macs? (it's not even fully cross-browser compatible). It's not clear if it works with Office 2016 on OS X or not. That may have just killed it.

It's not clear what MS means by "polls". They seem to mean multiple-user input quizzes for online presentations (as in "Facebook poll"), rather than live event polls a la TurningPoint - but I may have got that wrong?