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Innovative assessment

An evaluation of the impact of changes to assessment practice in a second-year object-oriented Java programming module

Project leader(s): 
Anton Dil and Sharon Dawes
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

M250, Object-oriented Java Programming, relaunched in 2021J with new teaching material and a changed assessment strategy in which formative assessment, including coding exercises, is embedded in online teaching material (rather than in separate quizzes or in a textbook) and is marked automatically. In addition, the module's summative continuous assessment is made more formative by the addition of automated feedback before submission. 

The module exam has also been reworked for online use and to align more closely with the formative and continuous assessment.

We are particularly interested in the impact of changes to our assessment on retention and completion, on student behaviour with regards to assessment (in particular how it affects discussion of assessment) on student attainment on the module, and on student satisfaction. 

This project therefore aims to investigate the impact of the changes we have made to assessment on module performance indicators and more generally.

Anton Dil and Sharon Dawes poster

Changing times, changing pedagogies

Project leader(s): 
Rachel Hilliam
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Since March 2020, there has been much change in the higher education learning and teaching of the mathematical sciences. With the onset of Covid19, universities have needed to rapidly adapt their to teaching to an online environment. To support this, novel tools, approaches and ideas were developed across institutions. Within the mathematical sciences, some of these were shared, many from colleagues at the OU, through the TALMO series of events arranged by Grove, Hilliam & Houston (www.talmo.uk). However, to date there has been limited work to explore, outside of the OU, the impact of online teaching both for practitioners and students.

As universities now move beyond the need to deliver remote learning there are lessons to be learnt in terms of the pedagogy around theories of learning in the mathematics sciences. One area of exploration is the potential conflict in HEIs between new methodologies versus the practical elements of teaching and how effective, or otherwise, the resulting learning opportunities are for students.

This eSTEeM project will explore how the theories of learning in mathematics and statistics have changed through the implementation and analysis of a UK-wide survey. In doing so, this work will contribute to a wider five-year longitudinal study which will explore the impact of the rapid shift in teaching practices during the pandemic on mathematical sciences departments within higher education institutions and the staff and students who choose to study and work within them. It will survey practitioners during 2022, 2024 and 2027 to provide insights into how the pandemic has affected the ways in which departments are now providing teaching, learning and assessment and support in mathematical sciences. Importantly, it will investigate whether the online practices and approaches first implemented during the Covid19 pandemic are continuing to be employed, whether they have evolved or whether they have been dismissed in favour of a return to more traditional methodologies, and importantly, the reasons behind these changes.

Rachel Hilliam poster

Pair marking: Working together to improve our teaching

Project leader(s): 
Nigel Gibson and Kate Sim
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

This project aims to investigate using dynamically shared marking documents to support new tutors. In the process it will also provide this group some additional mentoring, and it allow experienced tutors to reflect on their own work and to share and develop good practice.

The project leads have used shared marking documents for several years, 8 presentations of TM111 and previously on TU100. When marking each TMA we use a shared copy of the marking guide. On this document we share comments that we have written as feedback on student scripts. We also create a template with the standard information needed for each PT3; tutorial dates, reminders about iCMAs, and suchlike. We both prepare our own comments and templates, they have our voice, but by sharing them we can check our tone and understanding of the marking guide. We can also use comments written by the other marker; this is especially useful if one of us has already finished a batch of scripts. When we copy comments they are personalised, this might include referring to the student by name and often means editing the comment to reflect the student’s answer.

Feedback might be split into one of three types:

  • Standard – Comments for issues that arise on TMAs regardless of the question. They might include guidance on grammar or setting out answers. These comments are copied from previous presentations into the current marking guide. Where questions are reused some comments can be carried over from previous presentations.
  • Question specific – These comments relate to a particular variant of a question and will be generated while marking this batch of assignments.
  • One-offs – comments which are specific to this student. These comments are not added to the shared document.

Nigel Gibson and Kate Sim poster

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