Bloomsbury learning environment event on assessment

Gwyneth, Holly and Tim presented tools from the project and for the first time a formal presentation by Tim on the Moodle reporting system at:

BLE Seminar: Exploring the use of digital technologies to enhance assessment and feedback 4th June

While students reflecting on feedback is not a new idea the reporting of feedback from all modules in a programme did not seem to happen elsewhere. Capturing feedback is well recieved and could be useful for tutors to get an overview of a student’s progress. The current system is only for staff and it was suggested that students might want access to the reports – but this woudl require more Moodle development work.

Slides can be viewed here.


JISC final Programme Meeting

At this final programme meeting we presented the feedback analysis tool and gave a demonstration of the Moodle reporting plug in which is now working. This report enables a tutor to select a student and see the grades and feedback for all modules on the programme in one place -see below (that is provided that the feedback was submitted in Moodle.)

Demo of Moodle Assessment Reporting

There was  loads of interest in it. The reports mean that tutors can easily view feedback from a previous module and use this to comment on how students are progressing. Knowing that tutors can view past feedback may also encourage students to go back and look at past feedback when preparing a new assignment.Some wanted info and source code so we will put instructions on how to implement the plug-in/source code in the JISC design studio. We will also present results of the pilot of the reporting tool which we are doing this term.

Some people asked if the report was possible for students to access the tool as well as staff and that might be something for the future.


JISC Experts Meeting

On 23 April I attended the JISC Learning and Teaching Practice Experts Group meeting in Birmingham, an opportunity for those involved in JISC projects past and present to get together and share experiences.

There were many contributions but I was particularly interested in the Assessment and Feedback Strand B project ‘The Evaluation of Assessment Diaries and Grademark’ which Alice Lao spoke about. The survey of 250 students and 18 staff interviews following 4 years of implementation seemed to illustrate many of the issues with how technology does or doesn’t work with established practices.

So for example the Assessment Diary software sometimes disrupted existing practice, in a good way, by prompting reflection at a programme team level on the phenomenon of ‘assessment bunching’. Conversely, where staff see it as yet another administrative chore and don’t complete it fully or on time, and didn’t induct students on how to use the functions for accessing their online feedback the whole thing fell down.

So more on this at their project blog and the final report is available from JISC But my personal conclusion was that humans are the key to all technology!

CAMEL meeting and presentation at Queens Belfast

We had a useful discussion with the other projects in our CAMEL group in Belfast. All have synergy with Assessment Careers.

The Queens EAffect project uses electronic feedback in the vle and marking online. This saves admin days, is  quicker for students to hand in electronically as they are not needing to travel and markers also prefer marking online now they are used to it. They also are using REAP principles and analysing feedback. The Dundee project will also introduce online marking and have analysed feedback.

The project at MMU has overlap with the work of the IOE Assessment Working Group.  They have undertaken a review of appeals procedures and a review of the of reassessment period to reduce failed resist. They are developing a specification for e-assessment with  new codes of practice. E-portfolios are in the top 3 forms of assessment. They are also developing marking rubrics.

We also explored how to engage with different stakeholders- senior management, students and colleagues and this is an area we could discuss at our next meeting.

I also gave keynote presenting early results from Assessment Careers at the conference at QUB Assessment and Feedback conference. The feedback tool worked well -there were comments on the praise cateogry that it does not distinguish brief comments from constructive praise. The principles appeared to be uncontentious to this audience-a bit of a variation on the themes of other principles that are in use.

Seminar at Glamorgan University

On 20th Feb. 2013 I gave a seminar to a group of staff at Glamorgan University in which I outlined the project and the feedback analysis tool. They tested out the tool with some feedback samples and the majority found it easy to use. The issue of how much praise to provide was raised again and there was a comment on the cultural nature of feedback. They suggested that giving praise is a manifestation of British politeness and that is why in the UK we feel praise is so important to soften critque. I would be interested to find out if there is any research on culture differences in feedback.

We also discussed the draft principles which were mostly seen as not contentious. One comment was that each principle needs to be clear who is to take the action-students assessors etc.

Presentation at SRHE 2012 conference

Martin, Holly and I gave a presentation at the SRHE 2012 conference on the project entitled: Assessment Careers: towards a vision of post-modularisation. The slides are available in the documents page of this blog.
We presented the feedback analysis tool and some results as well as the student responses so far on how they use feedback and Martin’s pre-pilot on peer feedback. There was a good receptive audience and they asked the following questions and comments:
Q1 Will you be able to have a look at the kind of language that tutors use in their feedback?
Q2 If feedback is so problematic, maybe we should only do feed forward, we’ve switched to only giving feedback on formative work, not summative.
Q3 How do you develop the self-assessment skills of students?

Other presentations worth noting were:

1. Asghar and Hall from York St John University talking about Dialogue days. Where students and staff meet informally to discuss any aspect of their course outside classroom. They claim that this is more useful than course committees.
2. Dai Hounsell from Edinburgh has done a meta level literature review on feedback. He was not convinced that the feedback and assessment guidelines that are publicised across the sector are evidence informed. Most research on feedback is based undergraduate. Most feedback is on current content and not feed forward which matches our findings.

There were other critiques of feedback that is delivered to students and not discussed and more evidence that students do not find praise helpful but these other papers were not saying anything new.

Finally, the venue was very good!

Celtic Manor resort lobby

Analysing Feedback presentation online at JISC conference

I presented our feedback analysis tool at the JISC online pre-conference session today alongside  Dundee presenting their similar but different feedback auditing tool. See   and for a session recording.
There was plenty of discussion about and interest in: ipsative feedback, the issue of consistency of feedback, how the context might influence feedback profiles as well as the importance of longitudinal assessment and encouraging learners to read and act on feedback.
The Dundee feedback audit tool goes into more depth on the quality of feedback e.g whether or not examples and explanations are provided and whether or not the feedback encourges learners to become self-regulating. Perhpas we can we look at feedback in more depth too?

In keeping with our initial results, the Dundee team identified that much feedback related to the current task and did not advise on future work. They also looked at individual staff feedback profiles, which we avoided as it might be a sensitve issue, but I think there is some mileage in using the tool for individuals’ private self-reflection on practice.

tools to support assessment careers

Today I attended the webinar hosted by the  JISC Assessment and feedback project at Glamorgan

I was particularly interested in their evaluation of the Grademark tool for feedback, which is part of Turnitin. There are some nice video of tutors using the tool and reflecting on how they found the experience at

I had come away from the 17/18  Oct JISC events in Birmingham feeling that our Assessment Careers project was part of a wider shift in emphasis in the sector towards longitudinal feedback. I speculate that 15 years ago there was a big drive for writing clear learning outcomes for programmes, for modularisation and breaking down programmes in order to increase transparency for students. Now these aims have largely been achieved, but it feels like there is some disquiet about what may have been lost, in terms of the holistic and developmental nature of programmes. So, maybe now the pendulum has swung back and many of us want to enable a developmental trajectory for students through their programme of study, rather than taking a smorgasbord of modules.

In Birmingham I found many JISC projects were also looking at how students can take feedback from one module forward into the next, to develop their ‘assessment careers’,  so this has given us a shopping list of tools to investigate:

1. The InterACT project at Dundee is doing exactly what we want to do; every piece of feedback students receive over a programme is in one place with prompts for reflection on it. They used Moodle wiki’s as blogs are not programme specific, but it works well so we thought this was really worth looking at.

2. Assessment Diaries includes an evaluation of Grademark as part of Turnitin (Glamorgan)

3. Open Coursework Management (Exeter)

4. Lightwork

5. Portfolio software like Mahara