Conference time: -
Update from Day 2 of the REAP International Online Conference

Day 2 of the Conference has really drawn people into the keynote chats, but there's also lots of interest in the discussion fora. It's the page on the top of the site hit list - with 10,000 requests to view since the start of the conference.

Here's a run-down of some highlights from the chat and discussion fora today

Keynote on Great designs – what should assessment do?
A fascinating chat session ran (early!) this morning, on the excellent presentation by our first Keynote of the day, Professor David Boud. His presentation considers what impact assessment practices have on students, and the importance of considering these impacts as a first step in  assessment design.  Hot topics during the chat related to moving from a focus on assessment as measuring learning, to informing student’s judgements; and the perceived distinction between summative and formative assessment.

“The design challenge … is in making some of the good formative processes work in summative contexts without them being destroyed in the process” (David Boud, chat excerpt)

In the fora, an interesting discussion around trust and assessment design has been started by Damian Ruth from Massey University in New Zealand, with lots more to debate as well!

Session on Raising students' meta-cognition (self-assessment) abilities
Two extremely interesting papers on the subject of student self-assessment. Tony Gardner-Medwin and Nancy Curtin presented the confidence-based marking (CBM) system, while Tracey Winning and colleagues looked at self-assessment in the context of dental clinical skills development.  Colleagues discussed their experience of similar self-assessment systems and since both papers concentrated on self-assessment in the clinical professions there was some discussion about whether such methods might be applicable to other disciplines, and in particular the assessment of more subjective knowledge.

Delegates discussed how the self-assessment methods actually encourage learning  or critical reflection. There was also the interesting issue of empowering students through their engagement with the assessment process, i.e. had students been involved in designing CBM-type questions? Tony and Nancy reported that this had happened, and it had been a very positive experience.

Feast of case studies
“…the Trojan horse sneaks in learning!” (Kaska Hempel & Mark Russell, chat excerpt)

In this session we were fortunate to be joined by several authors from the 'feast' of case studies. There was some wide (and far) ranging discussion among participants. Subjects included: encompassing online learning to replace lectures; student confidence; Personal Response Systems for summative testing; and an adaptive elearning system. An interesting theme that emerged was the role and influence of technology in assessment. A divide was apparent as to whether it was the technology that informs the pedagogy or vice versa. It was, however, agreed that while good pedagogy should be key, new technologies can be excellent ‘Trojans’ to get lecturers to re-examine their teaching practices.    

On the forum, some interesting topics are emerging. Case study author Saretha Brussow is calling for examples of concept maps in assessment, and case study authors Susan Ogden and Alec Wersun would like to hear experiences of working with portfolios for assessment and large teaching teams respectively. If you have any thoughts on ‘Technology - The pedagogical Trojan Horse’ we’d love to hear from you!

Keynote on Using electronic portfolios to assess learning at IUPUI
A range of issues were discussed that arise from using an ePortfolio at course or module level for assessing individual learners, and also for institutional reporting and accounting. Ted Smith has picked up the latter in the Topic on Evaluating the artefacts.

This keynote highlighted that fact that institutional change is a long term process that requires a significant and ongoing amount of effort - particularly in defining and refining aims and processes. For example, agreeing the Principles of Undergraduate Learning at IUPUI took six years, with a high the level of ongoing consultation and engagement with staff.

There was general agreement that students need to be taught how to reflect, but that a lot of academic staff assume students will develop the necessary skills, as if by osmosis! The keynote document Development in Reflective Thinking (available on Trudy's keynote session page) was seen as particularly useful in helping staff and students to identify what is required - David Nicol's 1st principle!

The issue of the technology gap between what the institution wants to do and what is currently possible also featured.

Session on In-class vs out-of -class work by students
This missed the press yesterday, so here's an update on what's been happening in this session.

The chat was a lively and wide-ranging session that began by discussing:
* How much does in-class vs out-of-class matter?
* Are there other techniques than EVS (electronic voting systems) or ARS (Audience Response Systems) that encourage out-of-class collaboration by students? and
* Could it be suggested that the 'wrong kind' of collaboration can be going on in certain EVS models (including the case study by Bali and Keaney)?

Participants argued that in-class and out-of class learning had to be connected; the pedagogical structure of any course was a key factor; EVS could be used as a scaffold to engage students in higher-order learning; and that peer interaction could be used as a motivator for students to participate in out-of class activity. Other discussion included the potential scalability of the models presented in the case studies and the role of the lecturer in the EVS classroom.

Some useful resources and websites on EVS were shared and a crib sheet to help students design their own EVS questions for use in class has been posted for delegates by Andy Sharp and Angela Sutherland.

In the forum Topic How much does in-class vs out-of class matter? Angela Sutherland and Derek Rowntree have commented on the benefits of Multiple Choice Questions. While Andy Sharp makes some interesting comments on the design of questions for EVS/PRS/ARS/clickers in the Topic Tips for designing questions. Angela and Andy also go into more detail about the stucture and thinking behind their use of ARS in the forum devoted to their case study on ARS.

The final day!
It's an 8am start to the chat sessions, with a conference Session all about "Writing for scientists". Joining us from New Zealand and Australia are case study authors Dr John Hamer and Charlotte Taylor, with expert facilitator Dr Colin Milligan providing some Scottish input!

For the last keynote of the conference we welcome Prof Mantz Yorke, who will be discussing his paper on 'Assessment in the first year of higher education: old principles in new wrapping?' at 13:30.

Finally, please do join us for the closing session of the conference from 15:00 - 16:00 when delegates will be able to reflect on the conference with the REAP team and guest expert panellists.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the chats and discussion fora. It's great to hear and read about your views and experiences of assessment. As this will be the last conference day, please also take a few moments to add yourself to the delegate directory. We want everyone to be represented in the conference archive!
(Click on your name where it appears next to the 'logout' button. On the page that opens, scroll down then 'Click here to add your profile to the Delegate List'.)

In the meantime, keep on discussing!


Dr Rachel A Harris
Inspire Research Ltd

On behalf of the REAP project team, and Conference Organisers Inspire Research Ltd