Two weeks ago the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia hosted HERDSA2017, a key conference on research and development in higher education. This year’s theme was “Curriculum Transformation” with presentations organised around practical implications, drivers and facilitators in curriculum transformation. A few colleagues from Macquarie and I enjoyed stimulating, eye opening and thought-provoking conversations.
Here is what I learned based on selected presentations I attended:
On the 4th of July, I was fortunate to attend a seminar at AGSM by Chris Rust, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, Oxford Brookes University, UK. As Macquarie University is currently engaged in program review, the topic Redesigning course assessment was timely. Over the course of three hours, Chris shared his thoughts and insights into improving programs and unit assessments. I summarise some of the key points and ideas that intrigued me and may interest you.
Sponsored by Australian Business Deans Council Learning and Teaching Network
We are fortunate to have Chris Rust, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, Oxford Brookes University visiting Macquarie University to provide a free interactive workshop on Wednesday 5 July 2017 as follows:
Professor Chris Rust will present Redesigning Course Assessment – A Program Leader’s Guide
This interactive workshop (based on a chapter in a forthcoming book) is intended for any program or course leader, or Head of School/Department, who seriously wants to improve their assessment practice. Supported by current research, the workshop will argue the need to reduce but improve summative assessment, regarding in particular the assessment of program outcomes and integrated learning, while increasing opportunities for formative assessment, the development of the students’ assessment literacy, and effective engagement with feedback – and provide practical examples of how this can and has been done.
Chris Rust is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at Oxford Brookes where he worked for over 25 years. He was Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, and Deputy Director of the Human Resource Directorate from 2001-2011. Between 2005-10 he was also Deputy Director for two Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning – ASKe (Assessment Standards Knowledge Exchange) and the Reinvention Centre for undergraduate research (led by Warwick University). For his last three years, he was Associate Dean (Academic Policy)
He has researched and published on a range of issues including:
the experiences of new teachers in HE
the positive effects of supplemental instruction
the effectiveness of workshops as a method of staff development.
ways of diversifying assessment
improving student performance through engagement in the assessment process
the role & effectiveness of external examiners
He has been a Fellow of the RSA, a Senior Fellow of SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) and was one of the first fourteen Senior Fellows of the UK Higher Education Academy.
We’ve often heard that assessments and feedback can help drive learning. As convenors, you go to great lengths to develop assessments and provide feedback that supports learning. However, are you optimising the impact of assessments and feedback on student learning?
One of the changes introduced by Macquarie’s new Assessment Policy is assigning at least 50% of groupwork for individual contributions. In other words, students who do groupwork need to get different marks.
This change is motivated by research that shows that giving students the same mark for groupwork considerably increases freeloading.
Macquarie undergraduate student Aprill Miles took to the podium to deliver a keynote at the German Undergraduate Research Conference last month. For Aprill, the experience of working on her own research project has been truly transformational. It also opened her eyes on why many students rarely go ‘outside of the box’ in their university assignments. Continue reading University assignments: why students rarely go ‘outside of the box’→
On the one hand, literature suggests that groupwork can be very valuable for students. It provides opportunities for deep learning, social support and practicing collaboration. On the other hand, you probably know someone for whom groupwork was potentially ‘the worst’ learning experience at university.
This contradiction made me wonder: why is it that the wonderful promise of ‘enriching collaboration’ just does not happen for many students?