Learning and Teaching in Action: Assessment

Student in language lab



Maureen Dawson

The MMU Challenging Assessment Initiative (CAI) was launched in April 2008 and will run till September 2009.

Since the successful launch in April, workshops, seminars and discussions have taken place within faculties and within CeLT, delivered by MMU staff and external speakers. We also know that the SLTFs across MMU have been active on projects related to assessment and feedback. In addition, MMU has funded several ‘assessment’ projects through the Fellowship in Academic Practice scheme, results of which will become available for the final CAI event, on September 9th 2009, which will disseminate and celebrate activities that have taken place around assessment.

It is fitting, therefore, that this issue of LTiA is entirely devoted to assessment. The issue kicks off with information from Rachel Forsyth about the University Assessment Framework which was approved in June 2008. Alan Fielding then provides a review of student assessment workloads, both within MMU and at other HEIs. He makes some recommendations for dealing with the vexed question of standardisation of workloads across units without stifling an individual academic’s creativity in designing assessment tasks.

The next two papers are concerned with plagiarism in assessments. Luke Armstrong and Rachel Delbridge detail the results of a student project which looked at academic staff and final year student perceptions of plagiarism. Maureen Dawson and Joyce Overfield then write about an HEA Bioscience-funded project which aimed to look at (principally) first year perceptions of plagiarism, with a view to producing guidelines.

As the CAI develops, staff are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of formative assessment and rapid feedback for promoting both student learning and student satisfaction with their learning. Several projects which use electronic response systems for deploying formative assessment and feedback are currently underway within MMU (and a future LTiA will disseminate these projects). In this edition, Rod Cullen and colleagues report the use of an electronic class response system to deploy formative assessment during a rather damp field course.

Finally, Helen Jones writes about the benefits and challenges of using Web 2.0 to complement face-to-face learning opportunities in her article ‘Sociology of Cyberspace: Assessing Generation Y’.

In the rest of this edition we take a brief look at some of the projects being undertaken across MMU. We will disseminate more on these projects once they have been completed. We also report the news from across the faculties, from the library and from CeLT. Finally, Rachel Forsyth reviews a book (David Boud and Nancy Falchikov: Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education, Routledge 2007) and Maureen Dawson reviews a journal paper that examines the effects of assessment environment on student learning.

The next edition of LTiA (Spring term 2009) will be an open issue. If you have ideas for articles, book reviews etc, then please contact Maureen Dawson in CeLT to discuss.

about the author

photo of Maureen Dawson

Maureen Dawson
Centre for Learning and Teaching

e-mail: m.m.dawson@mmu.ac.uk
telephone: 0161 247 1205

Autumn 2008
ISSN 1477-1241