Improving UG Student Achievement and Satisfaction through understanding Assessment Criteria

In 2016, Professor Christine Jarvis, the Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning made funds available for teaching and learning development projects that could make an impact on teaching, learning and assessment. As a result, the seven schools at the University of Huddersfield are running a number of projects and we are sharing some of the project progress and outcomes here on the Teaching and Learning Institute blog.

In The Business School they are running a project to improve student attainment by developing students’ engagement with assessment criteria. In this post, Wilma Teviotdale and Karen Mountain talks about developing targeted module level interventions as a way to develop assessment criteria knowledge.

Developing meaningful tutor-student dialogue about assessment

There is some experience of the use of past marked student work in the School to help students understand what is required but this is not commonly done, nor necessarily done in a manner which supports students’ direct engagement with assessment criteria.

A series of focused teaching interventions at undergraduate (UG) honours module level from major courses has been undertaken, identifying modules where student achievement is below cohort average and courses with low firsts and upper seconds outcome projected.

Discussions were then held with course leaders (CL) and module leaders (ML) to explore how they are currently supporting student understanding of the various types of assessment used in order to develop an intervention tailored to each module.  The agreed teaching intervention developed meaningful academic tutor-student dialogue using exemplars from past marked student work as the vehicle for the intervention, supporting formative assessment in each module.  The timing of the interventions depended on the points of summative assessments in each module. Although the focus of the intervention was at module level, the understanding of assessment criteria being developed is expected to be a transferable skill across students’ other modules. This will support academic tutor-student dialogue more widely.

The exact nature of each intervention was the subject of negotiation between the project lead, UG CL and ML.  The School’s International Student Support tutors received the material to provide additional support for overseas students with this targeted intervention in their English language classes, which is timetabled into courses.

Feedback from students on this process was captured through short questionnaires. The results from the completed student surveys (captured immediately after the exercise in class) have been summarised and feedback so far indicate that the results are very positive from the students’ perspective:

  • Increased confidence after the session (see Fig 1)
  • Discussions around the criteria were helpful
  • 92 % said they had a better understanding of tutor expectations

Figure 1: Students level of confidence

Bar chart showing the levels of confidence students reported pre - and post session

The main problem highlighted was the lack of time to complete the exercise – that would need addressing in the future, through embedding the work in module handbook schedules and making this part of the School’s Teaching and Learning strategy document.

Interviews have been recorded with module leaders and tutors involved in the classes to date. The feedback is in the process of being coded and analysed, but initial impressions show a range of perceptions and experiences and we are working on why some are very good and others not well received by staff. Student focus groups and comparison of module results is also still to be undertaken.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen, Research Assistant, Teaching and Learning Institute (TALI). The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning. Follow TALI on Twitter

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About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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