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Enhancing assessment and feedback in the first year: principles and practices

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Title: Enhancing assessment and feedback in the first year: principles and practices


1
  • Enhancing assessment and feedback in the first
    year principles and practices
  • David Nicol
  • Professor of Higher Education
  • Centre for Academic Practice and Learning
    Enhancement (CAPLE
  • Director, REAP and PEER projects (www.reap.ac.uk)
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University UCD Dublin 20th January 2011

2
NSS Assessment and feedback (2008)
No Survey Statement England Scotland Northern Ireland
5. The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance 69 69 69
6. Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair 74 74 73
7. Feedback on my work has been prompt 56 51 53
8. I received detailed comments on my work 61 52 52
9. Feedback on my work has helped clarify things I did not understand 56 51 50
22. Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course 82 86 83
3
Plan
  • Background
  • Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP)
    project
  • Concepts and ideas
  • Case studies of practice from REAP
  • Guidelines for implementation
  • Share ideas/practices

4
Background
  • Departments and faculties REAP supporting local
    innovations in assessment feedback
  • Policy/strategy led development of policy (based
    on REAP principles)
  • Students Feedback as dialogue campaign
  • Documentation Course approval and review (JISC
    funded)
  • HE Sector Project facilitator for QAA Scotland
    on AF
  • Research SENLEF, REAP, PEER etc
  • See www.reap.ac.uk

5
Re-engineering Assessment Practices project
  • Scottish Funding Council (1m)
  • Strathclyde, Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian
  • Large 1st year classes (160-900 students)
  • A range of disciplines (19 modules 6000
    students)
  • Many technologies online tests, simulations,
    discussion boards, e-portfolios, e-voting,
    peer/feedback software, VLE, online-offline
  • Learning quality and teaching efficiencies
  • Assessment for learner self-regulation
  • www.reap.ac.uk

6
First Year The academic experience
  • What is important in the first year?
  • Coping with transition
  • Understanding what is required
  • Engagement with academic programmes
  • Receiving support and feedback
  • Experiences of success
  • Feeling in control of own learning
  • Belief that you can succeed
  • A sense of belonging within the academic and
    social culture
  • Based on research by Yorke (UK) and Tinto (US)

7
Background (1)
  • Gibbs, G. Simpson, C (2004) Conditions under
    which assessment supports students learning,
    Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1,
    3-31.
  • See
  • Formative Assessment in Science Teaching (FAST)
    project at http//www.open.ac.uk/science/fdtl/

8
Gibbs and Simpson (2004)
  • Assessment tasks Conditions 1-4
  • Capture sufficient study time (in and out of
    class)
  • Are spread out evenly across timeline of study
  • Lead to productive activity (deep vs surface)
  • Communicate clear and high expectations
  • i.e concern here is with steers about how much
    work to do

9
Background (2)
  • Literature Review
  • Nicol, D. Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative
    assessment and self-regulated learning A model
    and seven principles of good feedback practice.
    Studies in Higher Education, 34 (1), 199-218
  • Nicol, D Milligan, C. (2006), Rethinking
    technology-supported assessment practices in
    relation to the seven principles of good feedback
    practice. In C. Bryan K. Clegg, Innovative
    assessment in higher education, Routledge.
  • Background
  • Student Enhanced Learning through Effective
    Feedback SENLEF project funded by HE Academy
  • REAP project www.reap.ac.uk

10
Rethinking assessment and feedback
  • 1. Consider self and peers as much as the teacher
    as sources of assessment and feedback
  • Tap into different qualities than teacher can
    provide
  • Saves time
  • Provides considerable learning benefits (lifelong
    learning)
  • 2. Focus on every step of the cycle
  • Understanding the task criteria (Sadler, 1983)
  • Applying what was learned in action
  • 3. Not just written feedback
  • Also verbal, computer, vicarious, formal and
    informal

11
Seven principles of good feedback
  • Good feedback
  • Clarifies what good performance is (goals,
    criteria, standards).
  • Facilitates the development of reflection and
    self-assessment in learning
  • Delivers high quality information to students
    that enables them to self-correct
  • Encourages student-teacher and peer dialogue
    around learning
  • Encourages positive motivational beliefs self
    esteem
  • Provides opportunities to act on feedback
  • Provides information to teachers that can be used
    to help shape their teaching (making learning
    visible)
  • Source Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006)

12
  • Good feedback
  • 1 Clarifies what good performance is (goals,
    criteria, standards).
  • Examples
  • Students derive criteria from exemplars (e.g.
    Essays)
  • Students create problems (e.g. MCQs)for others
    to solve (Engineering)

13
  • Good feedback
  • 2. Facilitates the development of reflection and
    self-assessment in learning
  • Students provide an abstract with an essay
    assignment
  • Provide written explanation of the concepts
    underpinning a set of problem-solving questions
  • OR
  • Identify what is strong and weak against criteria
    when they hand in an assignment (report, essay)
  • Evaluate the elegance of different solution
    pathways to a problem

14
  • Good feedback
  • 3. Delvers high quality feedback information to
    students that enables them to self-correct
  • Students request feedback when hand in assignment
  • Teacher provides feed forward rather than
    feedback
  • Focus feedback on skills and on students
    self-assessment abilities
  • OR
  • Dont give feedback point to resources where
    answer/issue can be elaborated

15
  • Good feedback
  • 4. Encourages teacher-student and peer dialogue
    around learning
  • T-S dialogue
  • Discussions of feedback in tutorials
  • Feedback intensives
  • Peer dialogue
  • Collaborative assignments (discussed later)
  • Electronic voting methods polling and peer
    discussion
  • Students reviewing each others work

16
  • Good feedback
  • 5. Encourages positive motivational beliefs and
    self-esteem
  • Focus students on learning rather than on marks
  • Emphasise mistakes are part of learning
  • Align formative and summative tasks
  • Use authentic and group tasks
  • Reader responsive feedback (non-evaluative)

17
  • Good feedback
  • 6. Provides opportunities to act on the feedback
  • Provide feedback as action points
  • Drafts and redrafts with feedback (new
    assignment)
  • Reward use of feedback in a different task

18
  • Good feedbacks
  • 7. Provides information to teachers that helps
    them shape their teaching
  • Requested feedback
  • Just-in-time teaching using online tests
  • Electronic voting methods allow dynamic
    adaptation
  • One-minute papers
  • Discussion boards

19
Application of principles
Problems or bottlenecks Remedies (drawn from the principles)
Learners dont understand the assessment criteria so they under-perform Difficult to provide varied and rich feedback Learners perceive little opportunity to act on feedback Learners appear too dependent on their teachers Learners are doing little work most of the time Teachers dont get enough information to adapt teaching to learners needs Active engagement with criteria Peer dialogue and feedback Inter-relate assignments or drafts and redrafts Enhance reflection and self assessment Lots of assignments evenly spread through through the year Online tests and short one-minute papers
20
Two meta principles
  • Meta-PRINCIPLE 1 time and effort on task
    (structured engagement) i.e. steers on how much
    work to do and when Gibbs and Simpson 4
    conditions
  • Meta-PRINCIPLE 2 developing learner
    self-regulation (empowerment/self-regulation) i.e
    steers to encourage ownership of learning the
    seven principles discussed above.
  • Case examples from REAP applying these
    conditions/ principles

21
  • Example 1
  • Psychology

22
Psychology
  • 560 first year students
  • 6 topic areas (e.g. personality, classical
    conditioning), 48 lectures, 4 tutorials, 12
    practicals
  • Assessment 2 x MCQs (25), tutorial attendance
    (4), taking part in experiment (5), essay exam
    (66)

23
Problems identified
  • No practice in writing skills but required in the
    exam
  • More detail provided in lectures than mentioned
    in exams (not enough independent reading)
  • No feedback except on MCQs (percent correct)
  • Didnt want to increase staff workload
  • Wanted to improve overall exam marks
  • And standard of entrant to second year

24
Psychology Redesign
  • Discussion board in WebCT
  • Students in 85 discussion groups of 7-8, same
    groups throughout year
  • Also open discussion board for class
  • Friday lectures dropped
  • Students discover for themselves through
    collaboration what would have been presented in
    the Friday lecture
  • Series of online tasks

25
Structure of group tasks
  • 6 cycles of 3 weeks (one cycle x major course
    topic)
  • First week light written task (e.g. define
    terms) 7 short answers (all answer)
  • Second week guided reading
  • Week three heavy written task students answer
    guided questions and then collaborate in writing
    a 700-800 word essay.
  • Within each week
  • The Monday lecture introducing material
  • Immediately after lecture, task posted online
    for delivery the following Monday
  • Model answers (selected from students) posted for
    previous weeks task

26
The teaching role
  • Participation in the discussions was compulsory
    but not marked (in subsequent years there is 2
    mark for participation)
  • The course leader provided general feedback to
    the whole class often motivational
  • He encouraged students to give each other
    feedback
  • The group discussions were not moderated
  • Around 8 teaching assistants monitored the
    discussions and reported non-participation to the
    teacher

27
   
Online Project 1 Classical Conditioning
Phenomena. Each Group Member should read the
Passer chapter. Satisfy yourself that YOU can
answer ALL of the questions below. Then agree as
a group who will post the final answer. Build
answers in your online group discussion space,
i.e. show your working online where possible
  Project 1 is to answer these questions as
fully as you can   1) What type of response is
susceptible to Classical Conditioning?   2) Why
does Extinction occur?   3) What is Spontaneous
Recovery?   4) What does the phenomenon of
Spontaneous Recovery tell us about the nature
of Extinction in Classical Conditioning?   5)
etc.  
28
An example of heavy task
  • The Task 800 word essay
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Freuds
    and Eysencks theories of personality. Are the
    theories incompatible?
  • readings suggested
  • questions provided all should try
  • and advice on how to divide task given

29
Relation to the Gibbs Simpsons four
assessment conditions
  1. Tasks require significant study out of class
    (condition 1)
  2. Tasks are distributed across topics and weeks
    (condition 2)
  3. They move students progressively to deeper levels
    of understanding (condition 3)
  4. There are explicit goals and progressive increase
    in challenge (condition 4)

30
Relation to 7 feedback principles
  • Standard format and model answers provide
    progressive clarification of expectations
    (principle 1)
  • Students encouraged to self-assess against model
    answer (principle 2)
  • Course leader provides motivational and
    meta-level feedback and selects model answers
    (principle 3)
  • Online peer discussion aimed at reaching
    consensus is core feature of design about
    response (principle 4)
  • Focus on learning not just marks, sense of
    control/challenge enhanced motivation
    (principle5)
  • Repeated cycle of topics and tasks provide
    opportunities to act on feedback (principle 6)
  • VLE captures all interactions allowing course
    leader to monitor progress and adapt teaching
    (principle 7)

31
Benefits
  • Students worked exceptionally hard
  • Written responses of exceedingly high standard
  • Discussions about learning and leaner
    responsibility
  • High levels of motivation atmosphere in class
    improved
  • Online interactions showed powerful scaffolding
    and community building
  • Feedback possible with 560 students peer and
    self-feedback (model answers)
  • Easy for tutors to monitor participation
  • Improved mean exam performance (up from 51-57,
    plt0.01) weaker students benefit most

32
Has it worked?
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What did we learn from the REAP case studies?
  • Use of simple technologies (discussion board)
  • Considerable thought gone into the learning
    design which is transferable
  • The drivers were learning improvements rather
    than technology (context of use)
  • Key finding across studies was need to balance
    structure and learner control
  • An important finding was the way that the social
    and the academic processes were shown to be
    mutually supportive

37
Guidelines for Implementation
  1. A single principle or many?
  2. Tight-loose maintain fidelity to the principles
    (tight) but encourage disciplines develop their
    own techniques of implementation (loose)
  3. The more actively engaged students are, the
    better the design
  4. Balance teacher feedback with peer and
    self-generated feedback
  5. Focus on developing students own ability for
    critical evaluation
  6. Create opportunities for learning communities
    to develop
  7. Share and get feedback on your learning designs

38
Developments since REAP
  • Principles of Assessment and Feedback approved by
    Senate (2008)
  • Use of principles to inform curriculum renewal
    and QAA processes
  • Feedback as Dialogue campaign with students and
    staff
  • PiP project Building a system to support the
    re-design of module/programme approval and review
    processes (www.principlesinpatterns.ac.uk )
  • PEER Project (Peer Evaluation in Education Review)

39
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41
PEER Project Core Ideas
  • The development of self-regulation in higher
    education requires that
  • Students must learn to critically evaluate the
    quality and impact of their own work both during
    and after its production (e.g. academic texts,
    problem solutions, designs)
  • Enabling condition for 1 that there are many
    opportunities for students to critically evaluate
    their own work (self-review) and the work of
    others (e.g. peer review)
  • Ref Sadler (2010) Beyond Feedback Developing
    students abilities in complex appraisal

42
Some benefits of Peer Review
  • Generating feedback more powerful than receiving
    it
  • It is cognitively more demanding cannot be
    passive
  • Puts student in the role of teacher
  • Students actively exercise criteria from many
    perspectives
  • See a wide sample of work produced by other
    students
  • They learn that in complex tasks quality can be
    produced in different ways
  • Receive a greater variety of feedback thus
    indicating how different reviewers perceive their
    work.
  • See Sadler, R (2010) and Nicol, D. (2010) and
    www.reap.ac.uk/PEER.aspx

43
Feedback procedures should help students form
accurate perceptions of their abilities and
establish internal standards with which to
evaluate their own work (after Mentkowski and
Associates (2000 p82)
Sources
Informal feedback
Formal feedback (explicit)
e.g. teachers answer students questions in class
e.g. teachers write feedback on an assignment
Teachers give feedback
e.g. students discuss the assignment requirements
e.g. students engage in a collaborative task
e.g. peers comment on each others problem
solutions in mathematics
Peers give feedback on other students work
Learning Outcome Students learn to critically
evaluate own and others work
e.g. students evaluate the strengths/weaknesses
of their essay against criteria.
e.g. students generate an abstract to hand in
with an essay
Students evaluate quality or impact of own work
Feedback Development Matrix (after Yorke, 2009)
Feedback is information that might help students
to make improvements in their work
44
Feedback procedures should help students form
accurate perceptions of their abilities and
establish internal standards with which to
evaluate their own work (after Mentkowski and
Associates (2000 p82)
Sources
Informal feedback
Formal feedback (explicit)
Teachers give feedback
Peers give feedback on other students work
Learning Outcome Students learn to critically
evaluate own and others work
.
Students evaluate quality or impact of own work
Feedback Development Matrix (after Yorke, 2009)
Feedback is information that might help students
to make improvements in their work
45
Some of my Publications
  • Nicol, D (2010) From monologue to dialogue
    Improving written feedback in mass higher
    education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher
    Education. 35(5), 501 -517
  • Nicol, D and Draper, S (2010), A blueprint for
    transformational organisational change in HE
    REAP as a case study (see reap.ac.uk website)
  • Nicol, D (2009), Transforming assessment and
    feedback Enhancing integration and empowerment
    in the first year, Published by Quality Assurance
    Agency, Scotland
  • (http//www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/documents/firs
    tyear/FirstYear_TransformingAssess.pdf
  • Nicol, D (2009), Assessment for learner
    self-regulation Enhancing achievement in the
    first year using learning technologies,
    Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education,
    34(3), 335-352
  • Nicol, D (2007), Laying the foundation for
    lifelong learning cases studies of technology
    supported assessment processes in large first
    year classes, British Journal of Educational
    Technology, 38(4), 668-678
  • Nicol, D (2007) E-assessment by design using
    multiple-choice tests to good effect, Journal of
    Further and Higher Education.31(1), 53-64.
  • Nicol, D. Milligan, C. (2006), Rethinking
    technology-supported assessment in relation to
    the seven principles of good feedback practice.
    In C. Bryan and K. Clegg, Innovations in
    Assessment, Routledge.
  • Nicol, D, J. Macfarlane-Dick (2006), Formative
    assessment and self-regulated learning A model
    and seven principles of good feedback practice,
    Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218.
  • See also www.reap.ac.uk for copies.
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