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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds What they had to produce at the end of the course is they had to do a final exam, they had to produce one piece of work that was graded, because one of the objectives of the course was I wanted them to be able to write a serious-sized programme that worked in a group, in a team to make it work. So at the end, we graded one piece of work they produced, because that was really my objective of the course for them to be able to do that. And the other thing was a portfolio. So they had to–

Skip to 0 minutes and 27 seconds I told them the qualities that I wanted them to develop over the course, this notion of project management, time management, a teamwork sort of thing. And in computing, we’re not very good at that normally. We’re solo people, especially just out of school. We’re geeks, we’re sceptical and distrustful of others, and we’re a bit obsessive. So things can go massively over time, because you don’t want to let go of them. It’s very hard to make right design trade-off decisions and do time management right if you’re a computing geek, I think. Anyway, when you come out of school it’s quite hard.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds So I told them, look, really guys, unless you can do this, it’s not going to work, because you’re not going to be able to do interesting and fulfilling projects. So we really want you to have time management and good group work and all that stuff. And I really want you to have good style and write really beautiful programmes, and here’s what I mean by that. I wanted them to develop as a sceptical person and in particular in computing, that relates a lot to testing. When you write a programme, you tend to hope that it’s correct.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds And as know probably whenever you turn your computer on it’s always you’re downloading patches, programmes even made by the best, largest most well-funded companies with thousands of people riddled with errors. So any individual person, especially someone just starting out is going to produce code that’s riddled with errors, but a natural human thing is to not believe that our work is as flawed as it is. So I wanted them to approach this sceptical approach around work, to test it rigorously, and we had a set of whole testing methodology and all sorts of things like that. So with these three attributes, I wanted them to get this scepticism testing, this style craftsmanship, and this sort of teamwork, project management, time management thing.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds I wanted them to each week say something about how they developed or what they’d thought or insights they’d had or how they’d changed with relation to these three things and to back it up with evidence. And I had to be concrete evidence. And that was their portfolio. So that was quite cool. And then, at the end we’d mark it and we’d mark each to the three things. We’d just give them a grade from fantastic, D, HD and so on and so on.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds And then it was quite interesting, because then that was a qualitative thing and of course for people that love quantitative stuff, it didn’t happen until the end but you got constant feedback from showing it to your tutor and seeing how it was going. And if you wanted to make your blog public and other people could comment on it too, but it also directly focused them on what they’re doing. So although you didn’t have to do any of the activities, how are you going to show you’ve got good time management, that you’ve good at project management if you don’t get your tasks and assignments in?

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds But if someone says, well, I already knew this so I didn’t need to do it, well, that’s OK. You write that in your blog. You say in the blog, I chose to do this activity and I got in on time. I chose not to do this one, because I already knew it. But then we’re assessing them on scepticism, so then we need to say some sort of and here’s how I know I didn’t need to do it. Here’s the evidence I didn’t need to do it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second And so in looking at the diaries and talking about them a little bit each week and having them evolve, hopefully we started to directly talk about the properties and attributes we wanted them to have. So that was the new assessment that we had. At the end, they haven’t got this intangible thing, they have got actual evidence that they can look at and be proud of what they’ve done. They’ve got something they can take to a boss. I couched it in terms of going for a job or promotion that when you go to the promotion, you’ve got to convince your boss that you deserve it. He doesn’t want clever, smart aleck reasons why you technically fill the criteria for promotion.

Skip to 3 minutes and 35 seconds He won’t promote you then. And he doesn’t need you to tick every box. If you’re outstanding in some and gaps in others, that’s OK too as long as you’re honest and have a good discussion. And he doesn’t have time to read 100 pages of stuff and do all the analysis for you to see that you really deserve it. It’s up to you to show him that you need it, that you deserve it, that you’re right for it. It’s up to you to assemble the evidence, to analyse the evidence, to summarise the evidence, to make selection about what goes in and what goes out, and to assemble it into a coherent thing.

Skip to 3 minutes and 59 seconds And by virtue of doing that, it actually forces you to reflect on the course. It forces the students, I think, to reflect on the course and think about what they’re doing. And at the end, they have this thing that shows what they’ve done that they should be very proud of. So they leave the course saying, you know, an example with the style sort of thing, some people are saying, here’s what I did in the first couple of weeks. Here’s a piece of code I wrote. I now see these 17 things wrong with it. Here’s some blog entries I wrote early on. You can see that I wasn’t really understanding what style was about, and I was really confused.

Skip to 4 minutes and 29 seconds Here’s a comment I got back from my tutor on the first assignment, where he made this praise and made these suggestions. Here’s a blog entry where I’m complaining, because I didn’t understand what he was saying and everything looked fine to me. And then, here in week seven is the blog entry where I suddenly realised what was going on, because I looked at John’s assignment when I had to do a peer review and I realised I couldn’t understand it even though to him it was clear as mud. And I suddenly realised, of course, it’s the same with my stuff.

Skip to 4 minutes and 51 seconds You can see what you’ve already written yourself, but that doesn’t mean other people can see it and we’re writing programmes to communicate. I just suddenly got it, and then suddenly it was so clear and then here’s my second assignment and look how it’s different. Bump, bum-bump. And here’s my tutor’s comment, and it’s fantastic. So you get to see at the end of the course how you have changed as a person over the course, and you get to think about your learning.

Skip to 5 minutes and 14 seconds And this is all to do with that thing that I was talking about at the very beginning about them taking control of their own learning and that necessarily, I think, means thinking about their own learning and understanding it and then monitoring it. They become the teacher, really, as well as me.

Designing assessment as learning

In the past decade we have seen a paradigm shift in how we think about assessment, with a move away from a focus on assessment of learning to one of assessment as learning.

Well-designed assessment offers a learning opportunity for students.

How do we design assessment as learning? The big questions to prompt your thinking about assessment design are:

  • Why am I assessing?
  • What am I assessing?
  • How am I assessing?
  • Who is undertaking the assessments?
  • When should assessment take place?” (Brown & Race, 2012, p.77).

In this video (5:36) UNSW Academic Richard Buckland, explores the benefits of a well designed portfolio task. In designing the portfolio task he was keen for his 1st Year Computer Science students to take control of their own learning, which meant thinking about their own learning, understanding it and monitoring it.

Academics in context

Information about the academic staff in this video and their professional contexts may be found in the Academics in context document.

Talking point

In a series of nine short videos, Associate Professor Richard Buckland discusses his strategies for designing assessment as learning.

  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Overview (3:18)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Engagement using Gamification (5:50)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Challenges (4:21)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Assessment Tasks (3:20)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Strategy (2:14)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Tips (1:14)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - ‘Passing on the Baton’ (1:15)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Benefits (2:22)
  • Designing Assessment as Learning - Supporting Self-Directed Learners (1:52)

Select one (1) of the videos to view. Identify one of the strategies that Assoc. Prof. Buckland uses that resonates with you.

Post the name of the video you viewed together with one strategy, or lesson, you learned from listening to Assoc. Prof. Buckland. You may also want to share a potential application of what you have, learned within your own teaching or educational context.

Want to know more?

If you would like to more about this topic on designing assessment for learning there are additional resources listed in the Want to know more.pdf for this step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Educational Design in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney