Category Archives: External events

Innovations in Assessment seminar at UCL

This is one of the HEA seminar series on assessment and was well attended with some enthusiasm from participants.
There was a real mix of traditional and innovative assessment approaches presented inlcuding examinations, MCQs, scenario based assessment, use of research folders and lecture casts and these were sometimes combined in the same programme.

Two interesting ideas:
1. Carl Gombrich, Philosophy: Use of a lecturecast send to students in advance with students posting questions they would like answered online and voting on the most popular questions which then got answered in the taught session. Although based on transmission -the lecture- the student questions were interpreted as self-formative assessment.

2. Chiara Ambrosio,  History of science module students researched a topic which could be a continuation of something a previous student had started reseraching. The aim was eventual publication of the research. A research folder was presented for summatuve assessment -like a portfolio.

Students also had to read to read others’ projects and were tested on these in an exam which seemed a bit incongruous to me but seemed to work. So there was a clear link between peer formative assessment and summative assessment. A student joined the presenters and was very enthusiastic about the assessment approach.

See outputs soon at

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.