Feedback a go go! Creating formative assessment opportunities

This past week I was involved in co-delivering a session on Creating Formative Assessment Opportunities, with the lovely people from our CELT department (Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching).  I found the session really useful and picked up some great tips on how to get the most out of formative assessments, so I’m going to share these with you now:

Plan, plan plan!

As with most things in life, planning and preparation are the key to success with formative assessments. We all know that students are very strategic with their approaches to learning and tend to put highest emphasis on those tasks with a clear link to the summative assessment, so why not work with this impulse.

When planning your assessment strategy, consider how well your formative tasks prepare your students for the content and mode of the summative assessment.

In other words, if you are asking your students to create a video, write an essay, develop a poster or do an exam for the summative assessment, do your formative assessment opportunities prepare them not only for the content being covered, but the actual form that the assessment takes place?

Try to view your Assessment Strategy across the programme as a whole. If your Level 6 students have not been asked to design an academic poster before they came to you, try to use their formative opportunity to help them to develop the skills, understanding and confidence to produce one in the summative task.

Equally important, from a learning technologist viewpoint, is to not assume that students will be confident with technology. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, for some even the thought of submitting an assignment to Turnitin will create anxieties – ease this by providing a practice area for them to submit to or setting a formative assessment that involves submitting through Turnitin. Ensure that if your summative task involves working with unfamiliar technology that your students get the chance to have a practice and a play before hand.

Formative is fabulous but don’t forget your workload!

One of the most interesting discussions that we had on the day was between the tensions between providing valuable formative opportunities to students and the additional workload for staff involved in the marking and feedback.

One programme team had a brilliantly and carefully structured assessment strategy, where students were scaffolded towards the summative assessment piece, however as student numbers increased this level of support had become unsustainable, so the programme team were looking to explore methods that were less intensive on the staff.

Case Study:

Students’ summative assignment involved a written exam exploring detailed analysis of case studies. In preparation for this exam, the current formative assessment involved the students completing a single case study exam question and submitting this online. Staff would then provide personalised feedback to the student. The formative assessment was highly valued by students and had been demonstrated to show a significant improvement in students attainments if they completed the task.  However, teaching staff were increasingly finding that the amount of time needed to provide the feedback to students was unsustainable.

Solution:

I discussed with the programme team the potential for using extended multiple-choice questions (EMCQ) as a replacement for the written exercise. The questions would present a case study, and the students would be required to pick the best response from a series of model answers. After completing the EMCQ students would have access to tailored feedback which would explore why (and why not) a choice was incorrect. This would give students a chance to be exposed to a wide range of feedback focusing on commonly made mistakes, as well as exposing them to a number of modelled correct responses. Although this approach would involve work and preparation up front, once completed could be shared each year and taken by the students as many times as they needed to help them get acquainted with the techniques.

Another useful solution reached that day was to consider the formative assessment across the programme and units as a whole. Each unit in the Level 6 programme conducted a final exam, the formative assignment for the assessment involved a formative exam for each unit. This produced a large amount of marking for the team. It was suggested instead that the units could share one formative exam with each supplying a question for the students to complete, dramatically reducing the marking involved, but still providing students with a formative experience of exams.


In summary, try to consider your assessment strategy as part of your whole programme planning. Identify how your formative assessments strategically align to your summative assessments. How do you formative assignments assist your students towards their summative assignment, in both mode and content? Consider both your workload and that of your student, can you make the formative assessment more accessible to you both without dramatically reducing how useful it is?


Featured image: “Gimmie an L! Gimmie an E! Gimmie a G! Gimmie an O! Yaaay!” by Asrar Makrani shared under a  (CC BY-ND 2.0) licence

 

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Show yourself! Personalise your online feedback

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One of the benefits of using digital submission tools like Turnitin, is that it helps to make your approaches to feedback consistent across marking teams and can also speed up the process, but the downside to this is that the feedback given can seem to lack your individual voice ( Grieve et al, 2015). Studies have shown that students are concerned about “depersonalisation” of feedback through online marking (Hast and Healy, 2016, p. 13), although more research is needed to explore what the impact of this might be.

Luckily there are ways to add more of yourself to your online feedback in both Moodle assignments and Turnitin. Below are some suggestions:

Turnitin:

Quickmarks: Quickmarks are a great way to quickly add comments and feedback to students across a cohort, but can appear rigid and impersonal. Consider creating your own bank of Quickmark comments using your own tone and language. Don’t be afraid to write in the first person, and to address the student likewise. Grieve et al (2015) also found in their research that the students do value some positive praise in their feedback, even things like “nice writing” or “well researched” so consider creating a bank of positive messages you can slip into your more constructive feedback.

For help in creating your own bank of Quickmarks, check out this 1minuteCPD video guide: #397 Create customised Quickmark Sets

Audio feedback: Consider using the audio feedback tool when giving students some overall comments and feedback. Turnitin has an in-built audio recorder which enables you to record a three minute message to your students, research has shown that students respond extremely positively to audio feedback – check out my previous post: The power of voice – Providing audio feedback to students

Rubric: There isn’t much you can do to personalise a rubric, in itself it is designed to standardise feedback and marking. However, did you know what you can link your on-script comments and quickmarks to your rubric? The rubric shows how many comments have been added and gives you a way to give personalised feedback linked to different marking criteria. Clicking on the comments button on the rubric lists the comments linked to the rubric – see screenshots below.

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Moodle

In Moodle assignments there are fewer ‘built in’ personalisation options, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share more personalised feedback with your students.

PDF Annotator:  If your students are submitting PDF documents, then you can now annotate directly onto their work and save and return the annotated PDF to the students as feedback. It is quick and easy to do and helps you to add more directed, personalised feedback for the student. Here is a short video which shows you how: How to annotate student PDFs submitted to Moodle assignments

Annotate word documents: If most of your Moodle assignment submissions are in Word format, another option is to download all the files, add comments and annotate using the tools in Word. If you save the files using the same file names that Moodle gives them, you can re-upload all the files in bulk too. Not sure how to do this? Check out this video: How to annotate student submissions and return your feedback files in bulk (Moodle Assignments)

And…if some of the students have submitted documents as PDF instead of Word, check out how easy it is to convert them into Word documents! #19 Convert PDF to Word. Magic!

Record audio feedback: As mentioned above, audio feedback is very popular with students and research has shown it to be effective too. There’s lots of options you can use to record audio or video feedback for students, have a look at my previous post for more ideas: The power of voice – Providing audio feedback to students

 

References: 

Hast, M. and Healy, C., 2016. Higher education marking in the electronic age: Quantitative and qualitative student insight. Procedia-Social and behavioral sciences228, pp.11-15.

Grieve, R., Padgett, C.R. and Moffitt, R.L., 2016. Assignments 2.0: The role of social presence and computer attitudes in student preferences for online versus offline marking. The Internet and Higher Education28, pp.8-16.

 

 

 

 

 

A magic minute? Reflections on a year of 1minuteCPD

1 min CPD

2016, for me and a handful of colleagues, has been a year of micro-learning. At the end of 2015, myself and Cath Wasiuk were considering how we could engage academic colleagues with technology enhanced learning. At the time, we were both employed as Technology Enhanced Learning Advisors at Manchester Met (Cath has since moved up the road to take on a post at The University of Manchester). We were both undertaking a masters in Academic Practice, and as part of this had been researching barriers to staff engagement with CPD. I had also had a strong interest in “just in time” learning for a number of years and was interested in exploring how this approach could be utilised with our academics.

Time and time again

In the research papers we read, “time” was frequently cited as one of the major barriers to staff engagement with training (Singh and Hardaker, 2014; Kopcha, 2012).  Time is needed to learn new software, it is needed to attend training sessions and it is needed to experiment with new approaches to teaching. This, coupled with the fact that teaching is often seen as the poor relation to research, means that TEL training rarely gets top billing with academic staff….there are other demands on academic time that are shouting much more loudly.  Both Cath and I were not newbies to staff development, so this boded with our own conceptions of why staff were reluctant to engage with us…and also why we had spent the year running lunch-time workshops, recorded lunchtime webinars and trying to schedule longer sessions for the summer months where time seemed to be more flexible. However, these approaches still were not attracting staff in the numbers we had hoped for.

During a conversation over coffee we explored the rise in short and snappy approaches to self-improvement becoming crazes on the internet – for example, lean in 15 made famous by Joe Wicks or Go Highbrow, daily emails that follow short courses looking at bite sized tip-bits of knowledge.

What if we did something similar with our academics? How far could we take it?  Without conducting one jot of research we decided that 5 minutes would be too long and that we should try a minute. A minute seemed like a ideal length of time to fight back against the “no time” excuse, everyone can spare a minute right?

1 minute a day. Every day. For one whole year.

Timing is everything. This conversation happened on a cold and wet afternoon in mid-December. We were both readying ourselves for our Christmas break, however, we also recognised that January 1st would be the ideal time to launch our new initiative and encourage academic colleagues  to engage in a one year journey with us; 366 minutes (it’s a leap year) of technology enhanced learning training.

We had to get a wiggle on. We quickly agreed that this project would be open access, we knew that academics worldwide were time-poor, and as we were going to be investing the time into this project, why not share it?

We decided that we would try to focus the post on technology that was freely available or already on licence at Manchester Met. Each video would be kept to a minute long and accompanied by a short and snappy intro presenting the problem to which this video was the solution, and an open-source image to try and capture the essence of the post (a lack of budget has encouraged some creative interpretations of the posts into images).

We aimed to utilise freely available software to help us to host, organise and promote our project.  The blog is hosted on WordPress, which is super easy to use and has a very handy scheduling feature for projects like this one. We linked the blog up to twitter so that each time a post was released it would be tweeted automatically, and we set up a google drive to store spreadsheets and surveys to help us be more organised.

Our first ever post was published on 1st January 2016:

#1 Snip it!

We used twitter to help promote the blog and when we returned to work we included the week’s posts into our weekly faculty newsletters.  The initial interest in the project surprised us, and as it has grown, it has been a really remarkable journey for us all (see Meet the authors, to view the whole team)

As of Decemeber 2016, our 1minuteCPD blog has  over:

  • 45,250 views
  • 12,507 visitors
  • 2066 followers through Twitter, WordPress and by email

The posts have been viewed from across the world (111 different countries), with our major views coming from the UK, the US and Australia:

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Reflecting on the year

We started to gather feedback on 1minute CPD fairly early on in the journey.  We started off with a Google survey, which we followed up with some semi-structured interviews with staff. Finally, we recently took part in a Teaching and Learning Conversation webinar, where we received a huge amount of useful feedback (a recording of the session can be accessed here: 1MinuteCPD TLC  ).

In a very brief (executive!) summary, this is what we have learnt from our 1minuteCPD journey:

  1.  1minuteCPD is not the answer to everything, but it is the answer to something: There is something in a minute. the length of the posts is certainly the most popular feedback we received, people like that they are short, snappy and can be quickly digested. However, the majority will still need additional support and guidance to feel confident introducing a new tech to a class, but it does provide a good overview of what is available.
  2. Creating 1 minute of content everyday is possible, but does require a management, admin and organisation: Spreadsheets are your friend, agree a commitment and schedule with the team and consider a house style.
  3. The title of the blog post is an important hook to get people reading the posts: position technology as solutions to a problem, what are you trying to fix.
  4. 1 minute is not enough for some people and still too much for others…we had feedback that people still did not have time to engage, and feedback that people wanted more of the pedagogy behind the technology (difficult in a minute). A possible solution to this is providing links to other resources showing the pedagogical value in the solution, however, this would significantly increase the amount of time it took to produce a post.

Cath and I are currently writing a research paper where we will cover our findings in much more depth…so watch this space.

And what next for 1minuteCPD….?

As we approach the end of the 2016 and the end of our experiment, we have been considering where we go from here for 1minuteCPD. The team is immensely proud of the project and feel it is a real achievement to have met our commitment to one post a day. As for 2017, we’re not entirely sure yet and would be happy to hear any suggestions that you may have! Please feel free to comment below, or email k.soper@mmu.ac.uk

In the meantime I hope you have enjoyed our 1minuteCPD journey, thank you for coming along with us and watch this space for the future!

 

References

Kopcha, T. J. (2012) ‘Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development.’ Computers & Education, 59(4) pp. 1109-1121.

Singh, G. and Hardaker, G. (2014) ‘Barriers and enablers to adoption and diffusion of eLearning: A systematic review of the literature–a need for an integrative approach.’ Education + Training, 56(2/3) pp. 105-121.

#LTHEChat 58: Distance Learning with Simon Horrocks (@horrocks_simon)

This week’s #LTHEChat will be exploring Distance Learning with our guest, Simon Horrocks. Twitter is an interesting sphere to explore this in, being a (relatively) new mode of communication and space for learning. When I was studying with the Open University a few years ago, the course I completed was delivered entirely online, and was in fact studying distance and online education (an approach I found delightfully post modern and at times couldn’t work out if exercises had been left deliberately obtuse to allow us to experience some of the down falls of distance learning).

The course was delivered primarily through moodle, with forums and the occasional webinar. It was in this space however that I was introduced to Twitter for the first time. Twitter quickly became our student “hangout”, and fulfilled some of the missing coffee chats and post lecture conversations (and moans) that felt stifled in the “official” communications channels of this course. It was through Twitter that I felt we developed as a community of learners…so it is interesting to me now, six years on, to once again be discussing distance learning on Twitter, with my now extended community of peers. See you tomorrow!

#LTHEchat

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Simon Horrocks (@horrocks_simon)

Simon Horrocks is Assistant Director (Development, Learning and Teaching) at the Open University in Wales.  He is responsible for the support provided to the OU students in Wales and also the University’s postgraduate education students who are distributed around the world.  

Simon is @OUCymru’s lead for engagement on student experience matters with the Welsh Government, HEFCW and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

In a past life, Simon was an academic in Film and Media Studies, specialising in South-East Asian cinema and popular music culture.

Distance Learning

Distance learning is not a new phenomenon but it has developed rapidly in the age of the Internet. More and more universities are exploring the opportunities that distance learning presents for reaching a wider range of students in the UK and internationally but this poses a number of questions, not least how pedagogy needs to be adapted to support a distributed…

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#LTHEChat 57: Open CPD with Chris Rowell @chri5rowell

This week I am facilitating the #LTHEchat with Chris Rowell. On Wednesday between 8-9pm we will be discussing Open CPD. This is a topic I am particularly interested in. Some of you may be aware that myself, along with three colleagues, are currently engaged in an experiment in microlearning. We have created an open access CPD resource called 1MinuteCPD.

We decided to explore microlearning to see if it could help encourage time-poor staff to engage in regular CPD activities, with a focus on improving digital capabilities and exposing staff to different ways technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning. We have been thrilled with the response and take-up of the resource, and it has been a fantastic experience to be involved in.

I think that this chat will be a really great way to hear about other experiences people have had with creating and using open CPD resources and I encourage you to join in! If you’ve not taken part in a tweetchat before, simply follow the #LTHEchat hashtag and feel free to lurk until you feel ready to join in. It’s a really friendly bunch and a fun way to learn…..

#LTHEchat

cdkZXs9S Chris Rowell @Chri5rowell

Hi my name is Chris Rowell and I am a Deputy Learning Technology Manager at Regent’s University in London. Previously I was a Lecturer in Economics (1990- 2005) and a Lecturer in Education (2005-2010) at the University Centre Croydon.

My first degree (BA Hons) is in Economics. I have a PGCE  and I also have two MA’s in Development Studies and Education (eLearning). More recently I have completed Prince2 training for project management.Currently I am doing a Doctorate in Education at the Institute of Education, UCL.

My research interests are all things to do with Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). More specifically the evaluation of TEL by both staff and students in Higher Education.

I am an assistant editor of the Association for Learning Technology’s (ALT)  newsletter. Previously I have been a  member of the Staff and Educational Development Association’s (SEDA) National Executive (2015-10)  and Conference Committee…

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#LTHEChat 56: Innovative Pedagogy in Higher Education, with Prof. Ale Armellini (@alejandroa)

This week’s #LTHEchat is focusing on innovative pedagogy in higher education. A challenging topic and one that encourages us to think more deeply about our roles and responsibilities to students and the impact that our choices has upon them.

This weekend I listened to an interesting podcast by Hybrid Pod, which included an interview with Janine DeBaise. During this interview Janine suggests that we should engage more critically with pedagogies and question where they have come from.  Why is this approach now popular? Who is pushing this? Janine encourages us to think more about the unintended side effects of different types of teaching approaches.

With this in mind, I am looking forward to facilitating this week’s chat and reading everyone’s perspective on this topic…

#LTHEchat

Armellini Ale headshot Armellini Ale @alejandroa

Professor Alejandro Armellini is the Director of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Northampton. The mission of the Institute is to enable transformational learning experiences through inspirational teaching. Ale’s key role is to provide leadership in the area of learning and teaching across all schools and services.

Ale has extensive international teaching and programme development experience across different education sectors. Over the years, he has used, researched and refined the structured CAIeRO process (elsewhere known as Carpe Diem) and other evidence-based design-for-learning interventions to promote positive change in HE provision across modes of study. Teams under his leadership have researched the application of learning technologies in diverse academic settings. His PhD tutees research specific areas in the field of educational technology, pedagogy, openness and innovation. He is active in consultancy work globally.

During this week’s chat, Ale will be exploring…

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#LTHEChat 55 : Bilingual German/English May 18th – Opening-up HE for non-traditional students, Martina Emke

This week’s #LTHEChat will be a bilingual exploration (German and English) of opening up HE to non-traditional students. I strongly recommend having a read of Martina Emke’s thought provoking blog post, which introduces the topic. How can we enable students to draw on their experiences outside of university to keep their studying relevant and personal? What techniques do you use to balance the needs of traditional and non-traditional students? There are lots of things to consider in this, perhaps even, to play devils advocate, if any distinction should be made between traditional and non-traditional students at all? Have a read and don’t forget to join us on Wednesday 18th 8-9pm BST for this fascinating and bilingual #LTHEchat!

#LTHEchat

#LTHEChat 55: Die Öffnung der Hochschulen für nicht-traditionelle Studierende

OFFENE_HOCHSCHULE_portraits_00986 Martina Emke @martinaemke

Who are non-traditional students? According toa 2015 report by theNational Center for Education Statistics (NCSC) there is no clear definition. However, there seem to be some characteristics that many non-traditional students (NTS) share: NTS often study part-time, work full-time and have dependents. Another common factor seems to be that for many NTS the support of university staff and the institution, to help increase their confidence in learning and address practical and personal issues, is crucial for their success at university study (Field, Merrill & West, 2012).

NTS already possess professional knowledge and work experience which influence their attitude towards studying. Research suggests that they are interested in applying knowledge and that they are determined and committed to learning and studying because they have clear goals, which are often connected to pursuing a professional career (Johnson…

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#LTHEchat 52: Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying, Dr Bex Lewis

Join us for this week’s LTHEChat on Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying (Wed 20th 8-9pm BST). I met up with Dr Bex Lewis this week to help her draft up her questions (always helps to have someone to bounce ideas off!). The topic is an  interesting and emotive one, and one that most people can relate to. I enjoyed my chat with Bex, it was fascinating to discuss some of the nuances of the topic.  Bex has come up with some really thought provoking questions, and it should be a great LTHEChat. I can’t wait to see your responses.

I’m Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a particular interest in digital culture, especially within faith and values-focused organisations. Previous rol…

Source: #LTHEchat 52: Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying, Dr Bex Lewis

What the flip? Exploring technologies to support a flipped classroom

Fly by Hani Amir shared via CC licence

Fly by Hani Amir shared via CC licence

What is a flipped classroom?

A flipped classroom is one where the lectures become the homework and the traditional homework tasks take place in the lesson time. This enables students to attend sessions with an understanding of the subject and to conceptualise and build upon it through doing exercises in class, with you, as the tutor, on hand to answer questions and explore the topic in more detail. This moves the tutor from the “sage on the stage, to the guide on the side” (King, 1993).

Why should I flip?

Flipping your classroom does involve a bit of planning and preparation, however when it is implemented well it has a  positive impact on the student experience and their attainment (Nwosisi et al, 2016, Bishop & Verleger, 2013, ).

Don’t forget, you don’t have to flip ALL your lessons all the time to have an impact (Nwosisi et al, 2016). Why not plan in a couple of sessions in the next academic year that gives you (and the students) a chance to explore a flipped classroom approach?

What tech do I need?

You definitely don’t need much tech to flip your classroom, if you have access to the internet then you’ll have most of the tools to hand already!

Creating your own content:

  • Voice over PowerPoint – This is really easy to do and turns your PowerPoints into a video for your students to watch. Check out this #1miniuteCPD guide to see how to use it: #2 Podcast your PowerPoints!
  • Screen recording tools – there’s a host of different tools available to capture a screen recording (i.e. record what you can see on your PC). You can use this to demonstrate to students how to use a piece of software or provide an audio commentary on some online content amongst some of the uses. There are many different screen capture softwares available, with lots of them being free. Have a look at these #1minuteCPD guides to screen capture recording: #1minuteCPD guides to screen recording

Exploring existing content:

It is also worth exploring some of the excellent (and free) materials that are available on-line already.

  • TED Talks – if you’re not familiar with TED Talks I strongly recommend having a look. They cover a range of different topics in interesting and engaging ways.
  • Khan Academy :  A large collection of free lectures on a large range of topics. Khan Academy has a teacher function that enables you to manage your class.
  • YouTube: There is so much free online content on YouTube. This is a great place to have a look for content that you could use to enhance your flipped classroom.

*MMU staff…If you’re not sure how to add video content to your Moodle area, check out these #1minuteCPD videos:

#87 Adding a web link in Moodle
#57 Embed ANY Web 2.0 content into Moodle!
#44 How to upload video files to Moodle
#16 Embedding YouTube videos in Moodle

Making video content more active

OK – so even in a flipped classroom model, you’ll want to encourage your students to reflect and engage with the content. There are some great, free tools available that allow you to add in questions, audio-clips and reflection points onto video content. You don’t even have to have made the video yourself.

Ed Puzzle is a good example of such a tool, as is Ed Ted (a companion to TED Talks).

#1minuteCPD have done an introduction video to Ed Puzzle, which provides a good indication of how it works: #170 An introduction to Ed Puzzle [1/2]: Make video learning active! 

Prepare your students!

One of the most important parts of flipping your classroom is to talk to your students first. Having a conversation about why you are using this approach, what your commitment will be, what their commitment will be, etc. will help to ensure that they engage with the process.  Be ready to listen to their concerns and be prepared to be flexible in your responses.  As I have explored in a previous blog post, ( Can we change how we think about teaching and learning?), many students will have a preconceived idea about what “good teaching” and “good learning” looks like. Be prepared to explore and challenge these conceptions before you introduce a flipped classroom model.

What if it flops?

Of course it won’t! However, in the spirit of over, rather than under, preparing, before you flip take a look at this great blog post by Carolyn Fruin,  What to do when your flipped classroom flops? 

References:

Bishop, J.L. and Verleger, M.A., 2013, June. The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA.

King, A., 1993. From sage on the stage to guide on the side. College teaching41(1), pp.30-35

Nwosisi, C., Ferreira, A., Rosenberg, W. and Walsh, K., 2016. A Study of the Flipped Classroom and Its Effectiveness in Flipping Thirty Percent of the Course Content. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 6(5), p.348.

#LTHEchat 51: Networks of distributed creativity with Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin

I have recently joined the facilitating team for the #LTHEChat (Learning & Teaching in Higher Education), which takes place every Wednesday on Twitter between 8pm and 9pm BST. It’s a great online community, the chats are always fascinating and a fantastic opportunity to learn from others in the Higher Education community.

Check out tonight’s chat, it’s going to be a good one!

We – Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin – have worked for the last year on preparing an interactive symposium for Networked Learning 2016 that looks at the Networked Learnin…

Source: #LTHEchat 51: Networks of distributed creativity with Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin