As a cognitive scientist interested in how humans learn, think and understand language, I care about applying that understanding to improve educational practice.

Projects

Exemplar based peer assessment

Increasing capability in assessment and self-regulation through multiple choice marking of exemplars

With Dr Stuart McGugan, I am working on a project to develop student understanding of assessment. This research has been supported by a Pedagogic Development Grant from the University of Hull.

This work is ongoing and has been presented at conferences including UK STEM 2016.

There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that the potential learning benefits of providing students with feedback, however well crafted, are often not realised, with many students not valuing or understanding the feedback provided Sadler has argued that for students to benefit from feedback they must first possess the ability to make a comparison between their own performance and an expected standard. However, statements of assessment standards often fail to provide both students and staff with the effective transfer of both explicit and tacit assessment knowledge. To address this concern, as well as focusing on the quality of feedback messages, we argue that teachers in higher education should focus their efforts on strengthening skills of self-assessment amongst their students, which is helped by exposure to a range of exemplars.

Promoting ipsative feedback with self-reflective cover sheets (with Dr Stuart McGugan)

The ideology of competitive assessment regimes are deeply embedded in HE. While benefiting some students, for others the experience may damage self-esteem, reduce motivation and undermine learning. Ipsative assessment is based on the idea of assessing progress against a prior performance. It is argued to be motivational as ‘most of the time, most people will not achieve excellence, but most people can make improvements most of the time’ (Hughes, 2014, p.1). However introducing ipsative assessment offers a very practical challenge for many programmes in knowing what progress/ipsative feedback to provide and how to make this happen.

We address this challenge through the use of interactive cover sheets (Bloxham, 2010). Here students are encouraged to enter into a dialogue with tutors through a process of self-assessment of their performance and to identify help needed. This research addressses the following questions: What use do staff make of ipsative feedback? What use do students make of interactive coversheets? Do interactive cover sheets have the potential to promote ipsative feedback?

References:

Bloxham, S., & Campbell, L. (2010). Generating dialogue in assessment feedback: Exploring the use of interactive cover sheets. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(3), 291-300. Hughes, G. (2014). Ipsative assessment: Motivation through marking progress. Springer.