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 (415 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 (722 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 (115 downloads)
Assessed-essays-and-alternatives.docx (722 downloads)
Combatting-contract-cheating-w.docx (93 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 (95 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 (722 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 (93 downloads)

Swansea University: School of Management: September 7th

Thank you for making me so welcome today, especially to Mark and Marie. One apology: the materials I borrowed from my better half Sally come from No.13 on the slides of sources, rather than No.17 (as she reminded me tonight).
Here are most of the main slides we used, not in the order we used them – as you know, I dipped and dived all over the place during the day.  Swansea-2017-7w.pptx (98 downloads) I had to edit out the pictures and video clips to make the file size fit onto my website.
When I return on the 21st, my morning session will run in roughly the same order, but I will choose different workshop activities, so those present on the 7th please expect some new slides on the 21st, and for those on the 21st, please have a look at the slides posted on the 7th to get the best of both worlds.
Looking forward to my family weekend in Wales, and to returning on the 21st.

Congratulations to 2017 National Teaching Fellows

Below is a link to the HEA web page announcing details of the National Teaching Fellows for 2017. Congratulations to everyone winning this year. Excellent teaching duly recognised. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/about/news/hea-announces-national-teaching-fellowship-scheme-awards-and-collaborative-award-1

My thoughts are also with all those who didn’t win this year, but still have the kudos of having been selected by their institutions for their excellent teaching. I know what a difficult task it is for reviewers to choose the winners from such a distinguished group of aspirants, and all deserve congratulations.

August project: your questions, please?

Can I try to answer some of your questions about learning, teaching, feedback and assessment? I can not guarantee, of course, that my answers will be sensible!
For most of August, apart from the usual frantic few days in Edinburgh delighting in Festival events, I’m pottering around at or near home in Newcastle. I propose to have a go at answering some questions posed by readers of this site (and of Twitter), so please feel free to email me one or two short sharp questions, and I’ll have a go. If you’re willing for your question and my response to be included in a reply-blog on this site, please indicate so, and include your email or Twitter handle. Over to you…

Co-facilitating Writing Retreat at Leeds: 13th-14th July

This week, Sally and I are helping a group of colleagues from Leeds Beckett at an away-days residential at a conference venue in Leeds get going with writing materials on teaching, learning and assessment to submit for publication. Any slides we use will appear on this website later – the handouts are here:  developing-your-writing-w.doc (96 downloads)   Co-authoring-multipuposing-networking-w.docx (77 downloads)   Getting-published-in-Journals-with-top-LT-from-Google-docx-w1.docx (97 downloads)
The main slides Sally and I used are here:  GetPublished-Leeds-Beckett-Sally-and-Phils-main-slides.pptx (90 downloads)
I really enjoyed seeing you all and working with you, and wish you all the best with your future plans to write and get published.