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Using assessment

Professor Hughes explores how assessment might be used to encourage students to engage in asynchronous interaction.
Screenshot containing details of an assessed discussion forum task.
© University of Nottingham

While in the previous step, we looked at the use of rhetorical strategies to motivate students to engage in asynchronous discussions, here we explore an alternative approach. That’s to say, incorporating student contributions into assessment.

The image above contains details of the discussion-forum based assessment I use in my own teaching in a module titled: Business and Society in Spain. Over the years, it has proven very successful in supporting the achievements of learning outcomes in areas such as knowledge and understanding of key issues and themes and the development of high order critical thinking and academic writing skills in Spanish.

Constructive alignment

The task provides a good example of what John Biggs (1996) refers to as constructive alignment linking content, learning outcomes, teaching methods and assessment. In the case of teaching methods, for example, it delivers on at least 3 (investigation, discussion and collaboration) of the learning types identified by Diana Laurillard. As Bianca Raby points out in Oppida Talks: Constructive Alignment, Constructive Alignment is a key principle used in learning design. To ensure that it is acted upon, Raby suggests that you create a course overview that includes an emphasis on each of the aligned elements.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Learning outcomes

Arguably, the biggest challenge when completing your course overview is producing learning outcomes that capture the knowledge and skills your students will attain. To help, try to bear in mind that learning outcomes usually:

  • start with a phrase like: “At the end of this course/module, you will be able to”;
  • include a verb that identifies the performance to be demonstrated;
  • incorporate an object that specifies what learning will be demonstrated as well as a broad statement of the criterion or standard for acceptable performance. For example, “you will be able to” + “identify and evaluate” + “the theoretical framework” + “relevant to teaching practice”.

Some good examples of useful verbs can be found on the verb wheel which is arranged according to Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning activities listed in ascending order: 1. knowledge. 2. comprehension. 3. application. 4. analysis. 5. synthesis. Using these to design clear learning objectives will ensure that you remain focused on your learners, their needs and their goals, as you design your activities and assessments.

You can see how this works in practice in the below example from Business and Society in Spain, which includes the following learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • explain the meaning of authentic written, audio and audio-visual texts in Spanish at a level commensurate with C1/C2 of the Common European Framework of reference for Languages (CEFR);
  • apply in depth theoretical and conceptual knowledge to the study of Spanish business culture and practices;
  • discuss and debate, using a formal Spanish academic register, key issues and themes addressed on the module at a level commensurate with C1/C2 of the Common European Framework of reference for Languages (CEFR);
  • construct and defend a coherent and well-researched argument in Spanish at a level commensurate with C1/C2 of the Common European Framework of reference for Languages (CEFR).

In ‘comments’ below, formulate one or two module learning outcomes for a course/module you have taught or would like to teach, (perhaps based on your research). Remember to include a verb that identifies performance (perhaps using the verb wheel), an object and a statement of acceptable performance.

© University of Nottingham
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Blended and Hybrid Learning Design in Higher Education

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