Taking a learner Viewpoint

The focus of REAP was to “re-engineer” assessment practices.  While individual academics and can bring about positive changes through adjustments to individual modules it is clear that to harnessing a broader set of principles (and indeed they are meant to be complementary) requires a  more radical look at module and programme design.  I’ve blogged earlier about participating in a “Train the Trainers” session using the Assessment and Feedback resources of the  Viewpoints project.   Just recently, though I’ve enjoyed reading through the evaluation report written by the ‘father of REAP’ David Nichol, from which I have borrowed a few images and jotted a few more notes.

The Viewpoints approach is essentially a follows:

  • A group (eg module team) get together round a table and write out their design challenge on their A0 sheet placed horizontally on the table.
  • They are given a pack of cards with summary principles on one side and examples on the reverse and are encouraged to place cards on the timeline and move them around. Discussion ensues:  eg “are we giving our students enough time to reflect on feedback” when studying a card like “provide opportunities to act on feedback”

viewpointsFeedback

  • As discussion continues the group move cards around the timeline – the focus at this stage is aspirational
  • At a suitable point the facilitator encourages the group to turn over the cards, consider real examples, and begin to pin down what this may mean in practice for their situation

viewpointsFeedback2

  • The output of this session lends itself to being photographed, and this is then a “shared visual representation” –  a shortcut to the discussions, evaluations and desired outcomes.

viewpoints4

There are so many good things here.

  • The process encourages course designers to take a learner focus
  • Design groups can bring together the views of experienced and inexperienced staff and students too could meaningfully contribute
  • During discussions the group engage in deep way with the principles (it’s an authentic, social-constructivist setting for coming to joint understanding)  or as Nichol’s puts it Viewpoints has heightened the usefulness of the of the principles by  repackaging them as “tangible social objects”
  • By placing the principles at the heart of dialogue and discussion they become ideas and concepts that can be considered and evaluated without threat or judgement. (Nichol is an advocate of casting educational  principles as “rhetorical resources” which catalyse dialogue and can more easily diffuse through organisations.)

And.. usefully for me as I consider TMA4 the evaluations show that a number of the principles had high currency: ‘clarify good performance’, ‘time on task’, ‘act on feedback’, ‘reflection and self-assessment’ and ‘motivational beliefs’.

[As an aside,  I loved the fact that the project team started out to design an online resource, but ended up with a much more collaborative, time-line based activity in which teams engaged with REAP principles with the aid of A0 sheets, cards and post it notes. ]

Nicol, D (2012) Transformational Change in Teaching and Learning, Recasting the Educational Discourse Evaluation of the ViewPoints Project

JISC (2012) Design Studio Assessment and Feedback Printable Cards

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