The Re-imagining Assessment and Feedback for Student Success project is a collaboration between Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Teaching and Learning Offices. The study is supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Ireland and initially gained research ethics approval in GMIT, in 2021. The research study work to date has included a collaboration with three programmes across the three institutes: BA in Law and Criminal Justice (ATU Donegal Letterkenny), BA in Sociology and Politics (ATU Sligo), and BSc in Medical Science (ATU Galway City). Many data collection tools have been utilised to assess the current assessment practices across the three programmes and valuable information has been gathered about student experiences with assessment and feedback systems.
Setting the scene
To begin this research study, we conducted an audit and review of the current assessments used on each of the three programmes. The data collection process consisted of meeting with the project leads from each of the programmes to discuss the brief for the information we were hoping to collect from this process. They then shared the audit and review template with the academic staff from each programme to populate with their assessment details. This process was a key element in setting the scene for the project and understanding what assessment practices are used.
The next element we worked on was getting the students views on assessment and feedback. This consisted of two surveys, one for recent graduates and one for current undergraduate students. A list of both qualitative and quantitative questions was developed by the project team. The questions were designed to capture the student experience with assessment, feedback, and timing. The results from the surveys indicate that the area students were least satisfied with was the feedback system and that there is room for improvement. Through the surveys evidence has been gathered to support the statement authentic/real world assessments are having a positive effect on student engagement and experience. Following the surveys, a focus group session was run with number of students from each of the programmes. This session gave students the opportunity to expand on their views from the survey and give their suggestions to improve assessment and feedback for the future.
As part of the Re-imagining assessment and feedback project a series of masterclass sessions for all colleagues across ATU. This series was made up of four sessions: Making it real a masterclass with Kay Sambell and Sally Brown, Assessing Experiential Learning a masterclass with Rick Roe, Creating Feedback Opportunities within the curriculum a masterclass with Edd Pitt, and Development of Rubrics for Assessment a masterclass with Linda Suskie. Each of these sessions had great attendance and interaction from colleagues across the ATU.
Another element of this project was two showcasing sessions held in Sligo. For the showcase events academic staff on each of the programmes shared their assessment details with the project group and discussed their experience using these assessment. They also discussed the benefits of using these assessments for student learning and development, and shared grading information including rubrics. Student representatives from the programmes also had the opportunity to discuss their experience of partaking in these assessments.
From the Re-imagining Assessment project, a number of resources are being developed to guide and assist academic staff in the development and re-imagining of assessment strategies. These include a bank of resource guides and detailed information regarding how different assessment types could be used. An assessment page is being created to share all these resources.
An end of project symposium will be held on June 2nd 2022 in ATU Galway City. This event will be hybrid with both on-site speakers and virtual speakers. The purpose of the symposium is to showcase effective and innovative assessment strategies that are being used across ATU and to showcase the findings from the Re-imagining Assessment project.