Carol Evans: Implementing the EAT Framework (Live blogging – 15th Jan, 2018)

EAT Framework - HEFCE B

The room is quite packed here at the University of Surrey. Although it was quite a rainy, grim Monday morning, it has brightened up. There might be an even peep of sunshine coming through if we’re lucky. Carol is wearing a bright red jumper which could help alleviate the most miserable day of the year.

Approach to Curriculum Design: EAT framework

  • Carol’s current HEFCE project with Kingston University and University of Surrey (lead Naomi Winstone) wants to look at:
    • Do some programmes disadvantage some students (inadvertently)?
      • Therefore, if assessments are designed well, can it level the playing field?
  • The EAT framework is made up of the :
    • Assessment Design (AD)
    • Assessment Literacy (AL): Carol indicates that Royce Sadler suggests if we get this right, the other two would follow
      • My View Point: Then shouldn’t their focus be on that if we increase assessment literacy, then we can level the playing field rather than assessment design
    • Assessment Feedback (AF)

Carol is questioning to which extent that we need to support students. She has indicated that in some of their disciplines they have stopped providing feedback on drafts to students.

My View Point: This goes against what I think. I think providing feedback on drafts is necessary – it allows students to learn/ model how they should write and think (I am thinking about how John Mason’s work in maths education shows that students learn from exemplified examples). However, I do think the form of feedback can affect students’ learning. The feedback should enable them to self-regulate.

Carol is questioning the way we give feedback – in particular, if students do not understand the feedback, then we have not given a good job on the feedback.

Carol suggests that students should demonstrate how they have used feedback in their assessments.

My View Point: I can see this being rather useful. The challenge is that within a modularised curriculum, some feedback may not be so transferable from one module to the next. Also, it might mean that there has to be some standardised way of giving feedback that all module tutors follow which includes a generic feedback that can apply to all modules. However, as a module tutor, I would rebel against this suggestion as I think it affects my creativity in providing feedback and my academic freedom.

Carol is indicated that we need to ensure that we provide more concrete examples for students rather than saying to particular approaches as students may not what these approaches are.

My View Point: I think this is quite a valuable point. I often tell my doctoral students that they need to write stronger arguments using their literature for justification. However, I don’t think students actually know how to write arguments. I probably need to show them a concrete example of how to write an argument using literature. Are they any examples of this around – because I can’t say I know any!

Carol suggests that we should be empowered by Researching Assessment Practices (RAP). Therefore our assessment practices should be research-informed and the approaches we used should be evidence-based and hence we can be critical of the dictates of the University’s Assessment Framework.

My View Point: I think this is a sensible approach. Although I have used Healey and Jenkins research-teaching nexus as a way to think about the curriculum content and design, I have often forgotten about thinking about the research evidence for assessment. Nevertheless, because my approach to teaching has always been about ensuring that students have meaningful learning and connect what they learn to real-life, my assessments have generally tried to reflect these principles by letting assessments to be more open-ended and has a real-life application/ element to it. But does this make better assessments or actually make it more meaningful to them? Given that my students still achieve poor to excellent marks, one may argue that these assessments are not any better than other assessments.

Carol suggests that the open-ended assessments should be mediated i.e. it needs to be signed off by the tutor because students choose assessments that they cannot look at objectively as they’re too close to the subject and that some students do not like having a choice. Given these issues, then it may suggest that open-ended assessments may not be appreciated by some students and may not have the level of engagement that I would expect i.e. I would have expected open-ended assessments would have promoted intrinsic motivation in students. A research idea that is forming in my head, therefore, is looking at the individual differences in the appreciation of open-ended assessments through the lens of self-determination theory.

Carol has asked us to look at whether we are doing effective assessment feedback by looking at the three core areas of :

  • Assessment Literacy
  • Facilitating Improvements in Learning
  • Holistic Assessment Design

My View Point: I realise the one thing that I really I am not doing is ensuring there are opportunities for students to develop self-assessment/ self-monitoring skills (part of “Facilitating Improvements in Learning) i.e. self-regulation skills. I don’t think I do anything that specifically ensures self-regulation, although strangely enough, by some miracle I am expecting students to improve their self-regulation. I probably need to think about how I do this. My principle of teaching is trying to help students become more confident in what they are learning (i.e. self-efficacy is part of the self-regulation cycle), but I don’t really check to see whether what I am doing is actually working in helping them improve their self-confidence.

One attendee has raised the issue of having occasional lecturers and how they can think about the RAP as they have no control over the curriculum and assessment design.

My View Point: This is an issue always seem to come up with the PhD students and they do feel disempowered because they have no control over the curriculum design yet they have to provide a large contribution to the content. They feel as if their opinions do not count.

Quite an interesting session that got me thinking more closely about assessment & feedback and how I can help students in the self-regulation process and about ensuring more research-informed practice.

Read more about the EAT framework:

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