Helping students really grasp what we are looking for when we assess them

Date / Time: 18 December 2013, 10-11.15am
Venue: TT1.12, McLaren Room, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato

Understanding the rules of the game: Helping students really grasp what we are looking for when we assess them

Susan Bloxham
Susan Bloxham

Sue Bloxham, Professor of Academic Practice and Director of Education Research at the University of Cumbria, has taught in higher education for many years, developing a particular interest in assessment. Sue has published widely in the field including the best-selling Developing Effective Assessment in Higher Education (Open University Press) with her Cumbria colleague, Pete Boyd, in 2007; published the same year that she was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Sue’s interest in assessment focuses particularly on how we manage our higher education assignments and examinations to support the achievement of students from under-represented groups. She has also researched and published on matters such as student skills development, group assessment, feedback, course design and marking. In recent years, her interest in what students need to do to succeed in university assessment has inspired research into how tutors recognise quality in their marking.

One of the questions frequently raised is why innovative interventions in helping students with assessment and feedback rarely result in higher grades. This seminar will debate that mystery. It is based on recent research across education, social science, humanities, medicine and creative arts disciplines which investigated lecturers’ thinking whilst marking or assessing practice. A major outcome of the study is that the learning outcomes, teaching standards or assessment criteria which often form the basis of guidance and feedback to students do not appear to form the basis of lecturers’ judgements which tend to be more holistic and impressionistic.

The finding prompts awkward questions about the messages we give to students in our guidance and feedback. The seminar will build on what we know about helping students develop an holistic understanding of what they are trying to do in their writing, including use of exemplars, regular participation and feedback on work which involves dialogue with peers and tutors.

CONTACT: Please direct any queries to Margaret Drummond