Thursday, January 29, 2015

Talking sense about feedback - don't change the feedback, change the students

Pigeon Once again, Graham Gibbs latest post on feedback on the SEDA blog makes so much sense it's impossible not to share it (Making feedback work involves more than giving feedback). A few choice quotes to persuade you to go and read it:

Successful students make quite different use of feedback than unsuccessful students and one approach to making feedback more effective is to simply change average and weak students’ habits so that they use feedback as successful students do.

One of the reasons some students read and pay attention to feedback, while others don’t, is not that some are ‘assessment literate’ while others are not, but that some do not see the point: it does not help them achieve what they want to achieve. Idea No. 1 outlined the different orientations students have been found to display. They want to achieve different things and they pay attention to different things as a consequence. If all a student is interested in is passing or progression to the next stage, then actually learning about the subject matter from feedback may not be on their agenda, especially if the course is almost over or there is no follow-up course that builds on the subject matter. Changing students’ orientation is not at all easy but it is possible to make it difficult for students to pass unless they engage seriously with the course, whether they like it or not. It is also possible to make it easy for students to ignore the teacher’s agenda and still pass, and many courses and their assessment regimes achieve this dubious distinction. Teachers may bemoan how instrumental students have become, but they also often collude to make instrumentalism quite a successful strategy, in order to avoid too many students failing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year 2015

HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year The Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award seeks to identify the UK's leading bioscience Higher Education teachers recognizing the invaluable role played by teachers in HE. This award is run by Oxford University Press, The Society of Biology and the Heads of University Biosciences. The award recognizes outstanding learning and teaching practice in the biosciences. The competition is open to all employed bioscience teachers in the UK HE system and rewards lecturers who:
  • Display individual excellence through the design and development of approaches to teaching that have proven successful in promoting bioscience student learning and achievement
  • Undertake scholarly and professional developmental activities that actively influence and enhance the learning of their students
  • Support colleagues and influence bioscience student learning beyond their own department and institution

The finalists for the HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award 2015 have just been announced and they are:
Dr Alan Cann, University of Leicester
Dr Mark Clements, University of Westminster
Dr Dave Lewis, University of Leeds
Dr Sohag Saleh, Imperial College London
Congratulations to my fellow shortlisted candidates and to all those who were nominated for this year's award. The finalists will now begin the rigorous second stage of the judging process, involving the completion and presentation of a case study, and a 45 minute interview with the judging panel. The winner will be announced at the Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) Spring Meeting, at Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire at the beginning of May.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Students gain more from video-recorded presentations

Video As someone who's currently struggling to organize 300 student oral presentations (though my colleagues are performing heroic tasks), I'm  attracted to the idea that video recording presentations is of high feed-forward value to students. Is this finally a good reason to spend all that money on "lecture" capture technology?

I need to try this. Maybe on a smaller cohort than 300 to start with though...

Karen Murphy & Shane Barry. Feed-forward: students gaining more from assessment via deeper engagement in video-recorded presentations. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 06 Jan 2015 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.996206
Presentation feedback can be limited in its feed-forward value, as students do not have their actual presentation available for review whilst reflecting upon the feedback. This study reports on students’ perceptions of the learning and feed-forward value of an oral presentation assessment. Students self-marked their performance immediately after their presentation, after reviewing a video recording of their presentation and wrote a reflection relating to their experience. Survey data revealed that most students viewed all aspects of the assessment task positively and they rated the process as providing substantial learning value. They also indicated that the video review and overall assessment exercise provided valuable feed-forward information that would assist them to improve future presentations. These data were further supported by content analysis of the qualitative data. Students noted that they perceived the video review task as self-enabling. They also noted that the self-reflection and self-marking exercise provided time for thought although it was personally challenging. Therefore, via carefully designed assessment, it is possible to provide a deep learning opportunity from oral presentations that can feed-forward to enhance students’ future presentations.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Analyzing Science Education in the United Kingdom

Characterizing science education dichotomously as either “formal” or “informal” doesn't make sense:

Increasing evidence suggests that individuals develop their understanding of science concepts in and out of school, using varied community resources and networks. Thus in contrast to historic research approaches that focus exclusively on single organizations and/or educational events, the current paper presents exploratory research in which we utilized specific community ecology analytical tools and approaches to describe and analyze the U.K. science education community as a whole. Data suggest that overall the U.K. science education community is highly interconnected, and collaborative within individual sectors and moderately interconnected and collaborative between sectors; schools and to a lesser degree universities were outliers to this pattern. An important conclusion was that management to maximize the effectiveness of science education the U.K. science education community would involve support for continued diversification of the number of science education entities in the system and encouragement of reciprocally collaborative, synergistic relationships. We posit that systemic research enables a broader, more comprehensive view of a system's strengths and weaknesses, offering useful insights into the structure and functioning of science education activities; insights that could help researchers, practitioners, and policy makers improve the overall quality of science education delivery for all.

Analyzing Science Education in the United Kingdom: Taking a System-Wide Approach. Science Education 17 December 2014 doi: 10.1002/sce.21140

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Increasing Student Engagement with Practical Classes Through Online Pre-Lab Quizzes

Quiz submission rates Laboratory practicals classes are an essential component of all science degrees, but are a pinch point because of rising student numbers, rising student expectations and falling student exposure to laboratory work prior to entering higher education. Augmentation of physical laboratory work with online interventions is not new, but as virtual laboratories become increasingly sophisticated, cutting-edge approaches have become less available to many institutions as they are unable to meet the investment or specialist skills needed to build or maintain these complex tools. This case study examines the possibilities for increasing student engagement with practical work using the simplest tools available in any standard virtual learning environment and available to all. Based on results obtained from a large student cohort, the results indicate that this low-cost, low-tech approach can achieve high levels of student satisfaction.

Cann, A.J. (2014) Increasing Student Engagement with Practical Classes Through Online Pre-Lab Quizzes. Journal of Biological Education, 15 Dec 2014 doi: 10.1080/00219266.2014.986182

PDF here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Peer Assessment - Six is the Magic Number

Moon Peer assessment of high value written assignments? That pretty much describes this week. So this is of interest:

How to achieve accurate peer assessment for high value written assignments in a senior undergraduate course. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 09 Dec 2014 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.987721
The psychometric measures of accuracy, reliability and validity of peer assessment are critical qualities for its use as a supplement to instructor grading. In this study, we seek to determine which factors related to peer review are the most influential on these psychometric measures, with a primary focus on the accuracy of peer assessment or how closely peer-given grades match those of an instructor. We examine and rank the correlations of accuracy, reliability and validity with 17 quantitative and qualitative variables for three senior undergraduate courses that used peer assessment on high value written assignments. Based on these analyses, we altered the single most significant variable of one of the courses. We demonstrate that the number of reviews completed per reviewer has the greatest influence on the accuracy of peer assessment out of all the factors analysed. Our calculations suggest that six reviews must be completed per reviewer to achieve peer assessment that is no different from the grading of an instructor. Effective training, previous experience and strong academic abilities in the reviewers may reduce this number.