Latest Event Updates
Assessment in Higher Education Conference
The AHE conference
The AHE conference has grown from a half-day University of Cumbria event at the Carlisle campus to an International sector-leading two-day programme held at various locations around the UK. 2017 saw the 6th conference which was held in Manchester. The aim of the conference is to showcase research-informed practice in the areas of assessment and feedback. Each conference has attracted increasing numbers of delegates from over 25 countries. The atmosphere is one of friendliness and sharing practice. It’s an inspiring mix of people, countries and institutions and there is always something new to learn. Please make a note of June 2019 for the next one. In the meantime we have….
The one-day conference
On the ‘off’ year a one-day conference is held. Next year, 28th June 2018, the theme is Transforming Feedback: Research and Development. The keynote for this one-day event is David Carless who will be discussing Feedback for the longer term: Developing student feedback literacy.
Feedback continues to be a challenge for institutions so this is an area ripe for research and evaluation of practice. For more details, please go the website:
The call for contributions is now out so if you feel you have any relevant research or case studies, please send in an abstract. The deadline for submissions is Monday 15th January 2018.
For the latest information and updates on how you can contribute please follow us on twitter.
Pleased to announce the latest staff to gain HEA recognition either through the CPD or PgC route, especially the D4 (Principal Fellow) which is the University’s 2nd D4.
D4: Principal Fellow of the HEA
Nicky MEER, Academic Developer
D3: Senior Fellow of the HEA
Fiona BUCHANAN, Law
Anne GAGER, Education
D2: Fellow of the HEA
Kamal AHMED, Education
Katie BANKS, International Coordinator, LiSS
Dr Elaine BIDMEAD, research fellow, CACHET
Kerrie BROOKS, Law
Laura COLLINS, Mental Health Nursing
Laura DAGLISH, Drama
Lisa DORRIGTON, Children’s Nursing
Kelly FIELDEN, Occupational Therapy
Carly HAWKINS, Adult Nursing
Amanda HILL, Social Work
Dr Davina HILL, Zoology
Dr Claire HOLT, Conservation
Tania HOPLEY, Social Work
Gail JEFFERSON, Medical Imaging
Judith KELLY, Mental Health Nursing
Alex LEEK, Policing
Matthew MADDOCK, Paramedic Science
Christopher MARQUIS, Medical Imaging
Richard MARSH, Project Management
Rebekah POWELL, Career Ahead Coordinator
Jason ROSCOE, Counselling
Francis SIMPSON, Policing
Claire VUCKOVIC, Education
Steve WALKER, WCF/YCD
Assessment for Social Justice: i-LEAD Discussion article
The continued use of numerical assessment grading relies on the assumption that the judgements made about our students’ work are fair, equitable, objective and just. There is however a very large amount of research data to suggest that this is not the case. Given that assessing students’ work is not scientifically measurable, HE assessment processes have been moving towards criteria-based grading in an attempt to mitigate the subjective practices of assessment (Sadler 2005).
In practice this has resulted in what Sen (2010) argues is a tension between proper procedures and ‘lived realities’. Are we creating a culture in which assessment procedures are highlighted and
enforced at the at the expense of learning outcomes? Or in assessment terms, creating clear, unambiguous, neutral conditions and procedures for assessment must naturally lead to fair assessments?
Jan McArthur’s thoughtful and challenging paper on assessment for social justice (2015) discusses many themes regarding ‘Fairness’ and ‘Just’ assessment focusing on the distinction between procedural and outcome processes for social justice. She also argues that a procedural approach to social justice is important in order to ensure fair and equitable processes but that these do not in themselves result in fair and equitable outcomes.
Building on this distinction we can identify ‘best practice’ assessment processes and grading systems to ensure consistency and equity of student experience but this happens within a specific system and a specific society. It could be argued that any educational system is intrinsically biased towards a set of values and beliefs that reflect a society’s dominant ideology (Fraser and Honneth 2003) and therefore those students who are most comfortable and familiar with that ideology may therefore be expected to do better in a system that embeds and embodies it. A similar argument has often been used to critique the notion of I.Q tests and what constitutes ‘general knowledge’ (Jensen 1980).
For assessments to be truly fair and/or equitable they need to go beyond a set of coherent and ‘sameness’ procedures to explore the lived realities of our students in order to ensure our assessment design and grading systems actively address ways to reduce injustice and advance justice through more flexibility and less culture-bound criteria.
To what extent have these values and beliefs consciously or subconsciously manifested themselves into our values and thus fed into our curriculum and the assessment process and therefore student outcomes?
Applying for Principal Fellowship
Hi, my name is Nicky Meer and I am a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development within AQD. On September 15th 2017 I was awarded a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and this blog is written to give you a better understanding of the process of applying for PFHEA and what you need to do.
The application is not very long at 7-8000 words in total. In order to achieve a PFHEA you must be able to demonstrate and evidence: ‘a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning’. How you do this and the examples that you use are unique to you and your work activities, no two applications are the same but you will all have to complete the process which is in three parts:
1.Record of Educational Impact (REI)
This is simply a list and timeline of all of your significant achievements, activities, responsibilities etc. that demonstrate your leadership and the strategic nature of your work within learning and teaching in Higher Education. In my application I included activities such as gaining HEA institutional accreditation, my VC awards for excellence in learning and teaching, my external examiner roles and my pedagogic publications and conferences etc. You may want to include projects that you lead on, areas of decision-making you are involved in, international and/or partnership work or similar. All of the activities listed here will form the narrative (RAP) in part two.
2.Reflective Account of Practice (RAP)
The bulk of your application is a reflective narrative of the significant activities as listed in your REI. This is split into four sections with the maximum word limit being 2000 for each section. Within this narrative you must evidence all the criteria for D4 as per the UK Professional Standards Framework (https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf).
3.Three Advocate Statements
Your application is authenticated by the inclusion of three advocate statements from people who are familiar with your work and who have read your application and will support your claim. These statements are very important and there are detailed guidelines to help your advocates write them effectively. Your advocates must meet the following criteria between them: Be a Fellow (Senior or Principal), be able to comment on the ways in which you have directly influenced their own practice, be external to your institution and be from a Higher Education provider. Getting these statements is difficult. I asked six people and luckily got three back pretty quickly and used them, I am still waiting for one a month after I gained accreditation!
If you are interested in applying for PFHEA, please contact me for an informal chat and advice (firstname.lastname@example.org) I look forward to seeing many more PFHEA at the University of Cumbria.
The theme of this year’s Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C) was Beyond Islands of Innovation – how Learning Technology became the new norm(al) (press release).
The international conference was three days long, each day started with a keynote speaker followed by a packed programme with a wide variety of institutional presentations. The conference provided an opportunity for Andy White and myself to present the teams work on Developing and Maintaining Consistency in Virtual Learning Spaces.
The presentation Keeping Nurses Uniform: Developing and Maintaining Consistency in Virtual Learning Spaces built on our presentation to the ALT Winter 2015 Conference, delivered by Sarah Ruston and myself, and focused on how the move from one single, massive, high-risk, multiple-instructor site to a much more streamline and consistent set of module sites has become the new norm for many staff at the University of Cumbria achieving the consistency between modules that is so important for the student experience.
We presented our work on:
- How we used “parent” and “child” sites to support the inter-disciplinary “Working Together” modules that bring together students from different specialisms, such as Radiography and Midwifery, whilst maintaining the consistency of the module approach and how the assessment element can be overcome with “mark by groups” on Turnitin provided an ideal solution.
- How a benchmarking exercise resulted in the development of a set of Blackboard Protocols which were launched in June 2016 and baselined expectations for module delivery on Blackboard, alongside additional advice for those who wanted to enhance their site further. The protocols require each programme to have their own “programme” site, which contains key content, such as External Examiner reports. Learning technologists have been working with programme teams to enhance the value of these sites to students, for example, by embedding social media feeds and LTi links to PebblePad.
- We reported that 83% of sites surveyed during SEM1 2016/7 were using individual module sites (up from 49% in 2015), very encouraging as this was just a few months after the protocols had been announced.
All supported by examples and feedback from students and academic staff across the institution, this presentation reflects on the work to-date which has helped drive the culture-shift within the Nursing course team’s VLE delivery, and how this work has helped influence practice across the university, alongside next-steps to continue to further innovate course delivery, such as flipping the classroom, helping support an engaging and consistent student-experience within the university’s virtual learning space.
I attended multiple presentations covering topics from Developing Digital Capability: An Organisational Journey to Scaling up media training to enable alternative forms of assessment via new physical and virtual learning spaces.
The conference was an interesting experience and it was particularly rewarding to see how we, at UoC, compare favourably to other institutions. Our digital submission and feedback practices for example are in line with the presentation by Canterbury Christ Church University discussing Engaging learners with digital feedback: how choice of digital presentation may influence how learners use feedback.
Also, the workshop Any space is a learning space: developing mobile resources for meaningful work-based activities and assessment delivered by two UK medical schools, Liverpool and Leeds universities, discussed the effectiveness of mobile resources as learning tools to doctors out on placement.
Their case study reviewed how PebblePad facilitated the move from a paper logbook approach to an eportfolio model which was particularly interesting as this reflects ongoing work and interest within our own institution.
The workshop looked at how mobile resources can be used for meaningful, formative assessment for learning enabling students to develop a portfolio of evidence for their progression.
The session also included ‘hands on’ activities, one of which was a group collaborative activity for which ours was the winner!!
In light of the funding changes for students with disabilities we have developed a working collection of resources, ideas, support, reports and case studies about inclusive practice in Higher Education. It has been developed from a project to support academic staff following the changes to the Disabled Student Allowance. The purpose of resource is to enhance and improve the ways we design and deliver teaching, leading to accessible learning for all our students.
There are a range of practical activities for you to use in various settings such as large group teaching, assessment and giving feedback. There are links to comprehensive resources collected from other universities, reports from the HEA (Higher Education Academy) and a section containing information from recent conferences about inclusive practice.
The case studies section is a work in progress. We hope this is where academic staff will contribute research/ideas or practical activities that can be shared across all departments. Examples of case studies from Sheffield University have been included in this section as a starting point. A case study template has been emailed to departments or you can download it from the site.
The site is designed so that it can be easily updated and modified. We hope that with your support the wealth of experience here at the University of Cumbria this site will expand and develop over time.
The University of Cumbria has been shortlisted for the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE). The CATE award recognises outstanding contributions to teaching by teams at higher education institutions demonstrating ‘excellent practice’, teamwork, and dissemination planning. Teams will need to show they are working in collaboration with direct student involvement in their work.
The University of Cumbria is represented by its Major Incident (MI) team, which brings together forensic science, policing and paramedic practice departments to provide professional, problem-based learning to students in the form of an annual mock crime investigation incident staged in real time over three days. The collaboration facilitates ‘hi-fidelity authenticity’ which cannot be created individually, and enhances opportunities for students to develop employability skills realistic to their professional vocation.
For more information, click here to read the news article on the UoC Website.
The system updates highlighted in February are now in place. Early August has been a time for refreshing some of our core learning technology systems.
- PebblePad has moved to Version 5
- Blackboard has been updated
- The Turnitin Document Viewer has changed to Feedback Studio
- Medial has been updated to Version 5.
The PebblePad update replaces legacy Flash technology with HTML5, which, along with a redesigned interface, makes the system more intuitive and accessible. Find out more ….
As well as security enhancements, and ensuring that we maintain full system support for the next academic year, there are some new features with the Blackboard upgrade. Find out more …
Turnitin’s Feedback Studio has all the same features as the previous Document Viewer, however the interface makes better use of space, and is more accessible and responsive. Find out more ….
Like PebblePad, Medial has moved their interface to HTML5. They have also added a useful multispeed player option. Find out more …
PebblePad has moved from v3 (used Flash) to v5 (uses html5). The main difference is to Pebble+ – the personal space within PebblePad – where assets are created, shared and stored.
ATLAS, the assessment area within PebblePad, remains unchanged.
Everything in your Pebble+ account has transferred over into the new version.
The main differences:
- Works on all mobile devices and looks and behaves the same, no matter what device is used.
- Drag and drop to add files to your asset store.
- Improved text editing functions – you can use your mouse to copy and paste text.
- All Assets and Resources are in one place – no separate tabs for shared assets any more.
Here are some guides to help you navigate your way around the new version:
PebblePad v5: click the link to see what the new interface looks like; how to create assets; upload files; share with people or for assessment and Alumni information.
Academic PPDR instructions: click the link to find out how to fill out your Academic PPDR for the first and subsequent years.
Don’t forget, you can take your PebblePad account and all its contents with you if you leave or graduate from the university and you can continue to use it FREE forever. Just register for an Alumni account before you leave or graduate.
Graham Hallet, Senior Lecturer, SEN/D and Inclusion, and Shelby Mercer, second year student, give their reflections on a student led conference undertaken as part of a 2nd year Inclusion module
An essential part of being a teacher is to reflect on practice, and to use that reflection as the basis for innovation and creativity in our teaching and learning activities. In the summer of 2010, the opportunity arose to implement a different approach in an Education Studies module in the 2nd year of our 4-year BA (Hons) with QTS. The module is on Inclusion, and this is seen to encompass the needs of all marginalized pupils, rather than only on those with special educational needs. Such a huge subject area seemed to require an approach that differed from our usual teaching pattern, to ensure a continued focus throughout the academic year on Inclusion. Accordingly, a number of changes were made to the usual pattern of seminars and occasional lectures.
Two further beliefs shaped the approach of the module. The first was a conviction that far too much emphasis is placed on summative assignments in the University, and far too little is placed on a continued rehearsal of the skills and attributes needed in producing those assignments. Accordingly, a system akin to the idea of Oxford tutorials was introduced; following a lead lecture, on, for example, gender inclusion, students were expected to prepare and submit a short essay of perhaps 750 words to their tutor. A week or so later, in groups of six plus a tutor, these essays were dissected and discussed in a tutorial lasting an hour. This cycle was repeated 5 or 6 times during the module, ensuring the continued development of writing and research skills.
The second belief was that students respond positively and productively to being given responsibility, even at such an early stage of their academic journey. It was decided to give the students the responsibility of organizing an inclusion conference. A model was provided through the provision of a tutor led conference at the end of Semester 1 but it was made clear that the organization of the student led conference rested entirely with the student body. Time had to be allocated within the structure of the day for the students to present a group paper that formed their summative assignment for the module, but otherwise the programme was entirely within their remit.
The first Conference took place in June 2011 and has been followed by further events in each subsequent year. Each has been very different, perhaps reflecting the personalities of the students in that year, but each has been completely successful, with invited speakers of national importance in the field, exhibitions of relevant materials, refreshments provided, webcasts organized and T-shirts produced. Perhaps the best way to show the value of these events is to listen to the student voice; in this case, Shelby Mercer, one of our current second year organisers, gives her views of the conference that was held on the 28th March 2017.
The morning had gone well. My colleagues and I, looking around at one another, felt quietly confident. Our third speaker, half way through her talk, was passionately sharing her experiences with the audience. Eyes were fixed to the front until, suddenly, our speaker’s PowerPoint disappeared and the emergency lighting flickered on. There had been a power cut.
The student-led conference is one of the opportunities that makes our degree unique. I have attended them before and know others that have previously organised them, yet, the degree of autonomy involved was still surprising. Early during the module Graham explained the conference was ours; this meant we were responsible for everything from fundraising to flyers, speakers to spoons. The extent we were involved personally was also up to us; everyone wanted to participate in the planning, driven by the strong motivation of the experience rather than a grade.
I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the lessons learnt from creating and implementing a conference, with 20 peers, at this stage in our learning journey. Here are some:
A group of people can succeed in their goals without a leader. Early on we split into small self-organising teams, each with our own aims such as publicity and fundraising. I am not going to say that it all happened smoothly; some were more active in the planning than others and communication was sometimes lacking. However, this approach allowed us to make decisions by consensus, agreeing together therefore meant everyone was committed to turning our decisions into reality.
Some people will simply ignore your emails. Both the teams responsible for speakers and exhibitors had to quickly learn to deal with rejection or simply being ignored. However, this feeling was overshadowed by the fear that we wouldn’t have enough speakers; a needless worry as we secured four fantastic guest speakers.
Not everything will run smoothly. There is likely to be a moment, or two, or many, of stress. For us this ranged from technical difficulties, to losing an exhibitor in the carpark, and finally the power cut. Conferences are intrinsically social gatherings. It might be a cliché to say so, but, as I watched our final speaker do an impression of a Scouse lion under emergency lighting, I realised we should, after all our hard work, be enjoying ourselves. As Graham said, it’s our day.
These are just some of lessons I have learnt from planning a conference, I’m sure for my peers they may be different. However, the importance, I believe, is that we were given the opportunity to learn them – in our own way.