This is a summary of our patchwork e-portfolio implemented in the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) module for formative, summative and mobile assessment introduced in the blended multidisciplinary Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), Academic Development, University of Salford.
The patchwork e-portfolio assessment has a positive impact on learning and teaching. It engages students in practice-based assessment, feedback conversations among peers, tutor and the wider learning community. The assessment design is innovative and combines old and new, face-to-face and digital, collaborative and self-directed features. It supports and promotes inclusive practice for a diverse student body and consists of a Reflective Journal using social, mobile and rich media (audio, video, comic, drawings, digital stories). It also includes a Professional Discussion with a panel of a PGCAP tutor and an academic, during which a Lego model is used to visualise learning journeys, trigger and extend reflection, conversation and engagement captured afterwards in students’ e-portfolios. Students are autonomous in their learning and assessment and as such feel engaged and motivated. The assessments include supportive facilitation and modeling with intervention and active experimentation linked to an evidence-based approach. Deep critical reflection is developed and shared. Learning for and beyond assessment are evident and students feel empowered and enthused about learning, teaching and assessment.
Impact on learning and teaching
- Growing through assessment and reflective learning: Assessment and learning woven organically with Assessment link directly with personal practices and students to grow as HE practitioners. Students reflections often lead to new discoveries transforming thinking, beliefs and practice.
- Dynamic feedback conversations: e-portfolios are live, dynamic spaces accessed and updated from mobile devices; tutor and peers engage in learning and feedback conversations throughout modules, anytime, anyplace, creating a sense of community and trust (providing mutual feedback) Feedback by tutor and peers is ongoing; Strengths are recognised and areas for further explorations, highlighted. These conversations are motivating and engaging within and beyond the module boundaries, establishing a collaborative, networked learning experience. Many make their e-portfolios public, giving students an opportunity to engage in global conversations with practitioners from other institutions. Some promote their PGCAP e-portfolios via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- My e-portfolio: Social media e-portfolios are owned by students who enjoy creating and personalising them. They are seen as assessment spaces as well as professional development: there is evidence that some continued using them beyond the PGCAP.
- eAssessment, emarking, emoderation through modeling innovative practice: Use of an innovative e-portfolio for formative, summative and mobile assessment and feedback through peer learning; effective facilitation and administration, marking and moderation is modeled. A variety of assessment and feedback approaches are combined and social media, mobile technologies are utilised. External experts and assessors, become part of the learning and assessment experience. Marking, moderation and preparation for the Exam Board is done fully online. Being resourceful and creative is expected in these challenging times and institutions need to do more with less. This approach gives students a rich flavour of possibilities, benefits and challenges creating appetites for re-thinking their own assessment and feedback practices. The approach is constantly refined making students aware of their responsibility keeping assessment fresh and relevant. The use of the e-portfolio triggers creative and innovative thinking. We are introducing the best e-portfolio award “Rich Journeys” this academic year.
- Academic Development as a Greenhouse: Assessment on this module and the PGCAP programme shows that Academic Development should act as a Greenhouse of pedagogical interventions and the place where our staff, who are students on the programme, are given time and space to experiment in a safe/supportive environment. Academic developers and peers exploring new pedagogies and technologies feel enthused adopting more adventurous and creative learning, teaching and assessment using available technologies.
Video clips discussing the different and dynamic elements of the approach are highlighted in these urls:
- Professional Discussions:
Sample of current e-portfolios
Our assessment approach is based on collaborative and constructivist learning theories and practices. Digital tools and rich media enrich and extend assessment as learning. New learning is constructed through experience and immersion.
Modeling innovative practices, technology-enhanced approaches for learning and assessment within a trustful learning community have been especially successful on the LTHE module of the programme. A few tutors on the programme have their own professional e-portfolios which are shared with students.
Quality enhancement in academic development is why active experimentation and research with colleagues and students informing practice are so important. The module assessment evolved over 2 years using an evidence-based approach carried out collaboratively by tutor and students. Research findings, activity and feedback received from students and External Examiners inform the enhancement of assessment strategy and are disseminated through workshops, conference contributions and academic papers (a recent dissemination activity during the eAssessment Scotland 12 can be accessed at https://chrissinerantzi.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/some-thoughts-and-reflections-linked-to-our-eassessment-webinar/). The importance of an open dialogue and collaboration is key. Learning, teaching and assessment interventions are discussed with students and colleagues in partnership prior to implementation. This has been the case of the patchwork e-portfolio intervention over the last two years.
Assessment of the whole PGCAP programme is now based on a networked social media e-portfolio. This enables students to carry out authentic, practice-based assessment simultaneously experimenting with new pedagogies and digital technologies. Capturing and sharing their reflections and interventions engages all students and tutors in ongoing local and global learning conversations beyond the classroom.
Inclusive practice is at the heart of this e-portfolio e-Assessment intervention. This assessment is rich and versatile and models a variety of innovative assessment approaches in the digital age. It enables all students to participate in a meaningful way learning and assessment on their own and with others. They build on their strengths, boost self-confidence and belief in their abilities and embrace diversity and individuality. It stretches and challenges them to achieve the intended learning outcomes of a specific module and programme and also gives them the freedom to grow, create and co-create new knowledge in a safe, supported and caring environment.
This assessment is authentic and practice-based. It is fair, varied, fresh and stimulating. In the patchwork e-portfolio, process and product merge and meaningful learning conversations take place and are captured in media-rich format. There is also evidence of transformative learning and impact on their own practices which are extremely important achievements for Academic Development.
All assessment components, digital and non-digital, are interwoven organically and use technologies. Social media and digital tools, including mobile technologies, are used based on a pedagogical rationale and therefore enhance and extend connectivity, accessibility, usability as well as engagement and achieve enhanced inclusive practice.
Learning through creating and making is powerful. Making is an activity that gives people pleasure. It helps individuals make sense of their ideas, thinking but also visualising their thoughts, making discoveries and sharing them with others. This is what is achieved through this assessment strategy.
Learner engagement and motivation
The patchwork e-portfolio boosts engagement throughout and enables dialogic and collaborative learning. It also triggers deeper reflection, motivation, self-analysis, self and peer evaluation beyond the assessment requirements. The intended learning outcomes of this module are achieved and students set their own personalised learning goals. The e-portfolios are rich, personalised and creative learning spaces that keep students interested. Students are motivated and self-directed in a supportive atmosphere. Many, inspired by this assessment approach started implementing social media into their own modules and programmes and find a patchwork e-portfolio valuable for their own practice.
Students who struggled with technology initially, embraced it progressively and developed the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to re-think their own assessment practice.
Students learn through active experimentation with their tutor and peers. In their e-portfolios they stitch artifacts and thoughts together using rich media to represent their thinking, learning and development. During the last semester over 10 weeks, 450+ comments were made in 20 e-portfolios, including tutor and peer comments which clearly evidences the collaborative and connected nature of this assessment approach.
The Lego model making activity, e.g. (see images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgcap/sets/72157629541603128/) transformed the Professional Discussions which could be a stressful summative assessment method, into a relaxed and shared collaborative activity. It extends engagement beyond assessment and acts as a trigger for extended self- and dialogic reflection through the use of social media ( http://despard.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/professional-discussion-post-thoughts/). Learning and reflection through making is a vital characteristic of this approach and evidence shows that increased engagement, motivation and performance. External examiners were impressed by the depth of engagement during the Professional Discussions and the evidence captured in the e-portfolios. While the Professional Discussions are a summative assessment component and participants were only required to participate in the face-to-face discussion, many students decided to create a reflective review of their learning journey in preparation for their Professional Discussion page in their e-portfolio. This extended their reflection and learning, activities which were not required or assessed.
I would like to mention that I always feel motivated by my students who are hungry to learn and highlight how much I am learning from them and their Learning Journeys. We learn to trust each other and are growing and developing in partnership. I am extremely proud of what my students achieve.
External Examiner’s comments linked to our assessment strategy
Aug 12 extracts from annual report 11/12: “It was evident that students were clear regarding assessment requirements. The methods of assessment foster a high degree of creativity, and facilitate interesting and diverse ways in which students can present material, enhancing learning and teaching skills further. […]The core module encapsulates and promotes best practice in learning and teaching, appropriately supported by close adherence to UK PSF and HEA principles. This module provides a good foundation on which to develop as a Teacher. Reflective practice is a strong aspect of the core module. This comes easier to some students than others (depending on their specialist subject / discipline), with varying degrees of success. Some student reflections this year have developed a more critical stance, which is a credit to the efforts of the tutors. […] Programme content has facilitated assessments this year that are far more diverse and creative, which enables the student to work in media they feel most comfortable with (which is positive), but does offer some challenges in terms of equity of grading of work presented in different formats. To the team’s credit, they did assess in a fair, transparent and equitable way so it was clear to the student that learning outcomes had / had not been met.
The portfolio makes evident the learning journey the student undertakes, which for some is articulated as not an easy one. Several students discussed in their portfolios the difficulty of finding time to study. This is not unique to this programme. Across other institutions staff new to teaching, often with a full teaching (and research) load, describe the difficulty of finding time to devote to their post-graduate teaching certificate.
The programme is structured to enable tutorial staff to offer feedback on the portfolio on an ongoing basis to enhance critical reflection on the students’ practice. The module team offered formative feedback at intervals that were undoubtedly critical in supporting student momentum and motivation.
A portfolio is the most effective way of demonstrating achievement of the module learning outcomes and UKPSF standards within these modules and the programme as a whole. Reflection on teaching practice, and tutor and peer observations are effective and essential to developing expertise in learning and teaching practice. The portfolio also enables the student to clearly articulate their learning journey throughout the programme, making transparent their learning, their challenges and their achievements. The use of WordPress enabled some real creativity in terms of how the students’ activities and learning were presented. The ALT project is also presented within the WordPress portfolio, and this seems appropriate in terms of demonstrating learning across the programme.
I have looked closely at the Programme and module learning outcomes alongside the assessment strategies and student work when examining samples, and a close alignment is evident between the assessment and learning outcomes.
The marking and moderating process is clear and adhered to. Internal marking appears consistent. All markers offer detailed feedback (and feed-forward) to students, and it is made clear by the marker which criteria are being commented on. Moderation appears robust, and there is consistency in points raised by the moderator, and the external examiners. Any issues raised by the moderator or the external examiners are taken on board by the programme team, and changes / modifications are evident in the subsequent iteration of the module / programme.
Students’ assessments evidence high quality teaching and assessment guidance, and reflect concerted tutorial support. Assessment tasks are structured to reflect the students developing knowledge and skills within the context of their actual teaching practice, thus directly enhancing their practice.
Feedback to students is detailed, and makes clear to students areas of strength, areas of their work that are not reaching the required standard, and advise to improve their work. Formative feedback offered on an ongoing basis within the portfolio is important in enabling students to address issues as they progress, encourages them to reflect on their practice and undoubtedly motivates.
The PgCAP curriculum, the learning, teaching and assessment strategies it employs and the programme team model best academic practice to students.”
Dr Paula J Crick, Head of Subject: Nursing and Healthcare Practice, Faculty of Education Health and Sciences, University of Derby