Edinburgh Napier University: 7th December





Edinburgh Napier University
has now launched a brand-new series of ‘Quick Guides’ to matters relating to Assessment and Feedback, written by Kay Sambell, Sally Brown and Phil Race.
These can be downloaded from the link here:
http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/dlte/ENhance/Pages/ENhanceQuickGuides.aspx These guides are published as Open Educational Resources, and I hope colleagues in universities and colleges will find them really useful. We welcome all feedback on them. They were launched today – see photo.


How people really learn: SDF blog: October 24th

Follow the link below for my post on ‘how people really learn.
https://sdf.ac.uk/3551/philrace which has already proved popular.
Following publication of the post, Paul Kleiman (@DrPaulKleiman) kindly tweeted disagreeing with the ‘ripples’ diagram ending the post, and in a Twitter dialogue we agreed that it should not be ‘geometric’ with hard black lines, but that for individuals all the factors ‘swirled around’ in a unique way, and Paul came up with the following visual, representing this. I love his picture. This will now be the final slide whenever I introduce the factors underpinning successful learning in workshops and keynotes – thanks Paul.
There are many more blogs of interest on the SDF site too.

Edinburgh Napier University: 11th October

Here are the main slides I used in our session today on ‘Activating Learning’, minus most of the pictures and vidoes, to get the file size suitable for the site.  Activating-learning-Napier-2017-w.pptx (680 downloads)
I’d love to come back and go much further into making feedback dialogues work, building  student self-assessment into curriculum re-design and many more matters arising.
Thanks for being a great group of participants. and for some Tweets.

Don’t just crack down on ‘cheat companies’ – ban assessed essays?

Today, BBC news mentions guidelines for universities produced by QAA to combat the use of essay mills.
This won’t work!
While essays can be great for giving students feedback on their writing and ideas, there are several reasons why we shouldn’t try to assess them for marks or grades. I’ve outlined the problems and some possible tactics for avoiding them in the download here: Assessed-essays-and-alternatives.docx (979 downloads) which would also put the essay mills out of business much more effectively than posturing on ‘banning’ them.
Jo Johnson said this form of cheating “not only undermines standards in our world-class universities, but devalues the hard-earned qualifications of those who don’t cheat and can even, when it leads to graduates practising with inadequate professional skills, endanger the lives of others”. Someone please tell him that there are alternatives to assessed essays!!

Swansea University: School of Management: 21st September

Here are the main slides – and handouts – used today in my 2nd workshop at Swansea on ‘Designing out Plagiarism’. Thanks to all participants for great discussions (but not Tweets?).
Swansea-2017-2w.pptx (132 downloads)
Assessed-essays-and-alternatives.docx (979 downloads)
Combatting-contract-cheating-w.docx (107 downloads)
Regarding the debate we had in the last few minutes of the session, I’m attaching the Guardian letter and article I mentioned criticising the notion of ‘learning styles’. It’s not just me! There are some very experienced signatories to the letter. Learning-styles-critique-2.docx (111 downloads)

Essays: thinking about what’s wrong, and alternatives

Readers of this website may already know my views about essays. For a workshop today, with Sally I have composed a little handout which produced great discussions. You can download it here now: it will probably continue to evolve for a bit…
Assessed-essays-and-alternatives.docx (979 downloads)
An extract from the start..

There are five main problems with the over-use of essays as an assessment device:

  • They take a great deal of time to mark, let alone the time it takes for students to prepare, draft and compose them.
  • When most assessment is in the form of essays, students’ skills at essay-writing are repeatedly tested, as the expense sometimes of their understanding of the subject.
  • Lots of research shows that we’re not at all good at marking essays fairly – different assessors often give the same essay very different marks.
  • Essay marks in the UK tend to lie between 35% for a poor one and 75% for a very good one, whereas in many other disciplines the marks for an assignment like a lab report can range across the whole 0-100% span more evenly.
  • With coursework essays, there can be doubt about veracity – i.e. ‘whodunit?’!


Combatting Contract Cheating

With thanks to Prof Phil Newton of Swansea University, for great discussions two weeks ago, I’ve prepared this little handout about reasons why ‘contract cheating’ may occur, and some ways round it. I;ve also pasted a link to a THE article this week by Bruce Macfarlane, who questions whether it’s a ‘moral panic’. Decide.
Combatting-contract-cheating-w.docx (107 downloads)