Monthly Archives: January 2012

Notes from an Elluminate seminar with David Nicol

I took part in a JISC-sponsored Webinar today, run by David Nicol, entitled, “Assessment and feedback: in the hands of the student”.

David’s presentation raised several points that are useful for our project:

  • He discussed the idea that the purpose of feedback might be about developing the capacity in students for evaluative judgement, not just to receive feedback on specific pieces of work. He linked evaluative judgement to ideas of critical thinking, and emphasised use of feedback and knowledge building (rather than just focusing on giving feedback).
  • The emphasis on “timely/detailed/clear” feedback, driven by student national surveys, was criticised for adopting a “delivery” model of feedback, rather than a cognitive one in which students are expected to decode; evaluate and compare; identify discrepancies; revise and construct knowledge; and transfer this understanding to new areas.
  • Practical strategies for fostering this included responding to comments; sequencing assignments to encourage drafting and re-drafting; overlapping tasks; patchwork texts that need to be ‘stitched’ together; reflection on feedback; and ipsative asessment (Gwyneth was name checked here).
  • Echoing our own discussions, Simon was arguing about the importance of separating out grading work from commenting on it/providing feedback. Learning about academic standards isn’t the same as learning how to improve work. This was in the context of self-review by students, but the point may well stand more generally.
  • Peer review is a useful model, since it encourages engagement with comments, prompts revisions and so on. Similarly, offering peer review comments to others fosters learning: it prompted reflection on their own work too (since their work is used as a point of reference), and also encouraged engagement with the marking criteria. Important principles here would include maximising the number of reviews undertaken, engaging in dialogue and relating feedback offered to students’ own work.

Resources from the session, including the recording, slides and text chat are available from the Design Studio.

Participating in Assessment “Swap Shop”

This Monday, I took part in the JISC Assessment technology “swap shop” Elluminate meeting. As well as providing an update for people on our project, and what we’re up to, there were a few points that came of relevance to us:

  • There’s use of a Moodle plugin for managing assessment, developed by ULCC. The project site is, Here’s some blurb from their project plan: “The system (which is being developed by our Moodle hosting partner ULCC) will integrate fully with the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment) Moodle installation to allow students to submit coursework through ELE and receive a Turnitin similarity score. Assignments may then be marked on-line using Turnitin GradeMark or Word ‘track changes’. Feedback (which may consist of uploaded files or completed bespoke feedback forms) will be returned to students via ELE. Personal tutors will also be able to view feedback for their tutees.”
  • There’s also quite a simple administrative project about feedback and notification, e.g. The date when feedback to students is due. It’s just using VLE calendar and Outlook. (
  • There seem to be quite a lot of overlap with the Dundee project, interACT, which is focused on medical education but which is concerned with feedback processes that seem to look a lot like ipsative processes. They’re working with Blackboard rather than Moodle, however.
  • The LDSE modelling tools are being pushed for the programme as a whole, so we’re a bit ahead of the game in that we’ve already committed to using this.

Second team meeting 12/1/12

This second team meeting was used to firstly to recieve a summary of the views of the steering group. The suggestion of inlcuding doctoral students in the project was a good idea especially since there are already plans to provide a way of capturing doctoral supervision sessions and feedback in Moodle. Secondly, the reserchers reported on progress with the Baseline report. The data has been collected, although there may be some gaps to fill in later, and will be synthesised next week ready for a draft of the report at the end of January.

The remainder of the meeting focussed on developing pilot plans and the REAP assessment principles were discussed. The 3 pilot leaders present thought that these would be useful for pilot planning and will discuss further with the programmes teams involved.

Steering group meeting 12/1/12

The project steering group met with Peter Chatterton our critical friend also in attendance. The steering group agreed not only to monitor the project and sign off deliverables, but also to have a critical input into the project and discuss hot topics as they arise.  Suggestions arising from this meeting included:

  1. Possibility of the involvement of doctoral students.
  2. Interest in pedagogic modeling/pedagogic patterns being extended to assessment (Diana Laurillard to present on this at a future team meeting).
  3. Interest in looking at module-level practice in relation to advising students about assessment, e.g. handbook or advice given in class.

Stakeholder engagement was identified as a being likely to be an issue and a stakeholder engagement plan was recommeded.