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Blended Assessment in UL

Creating your video

In the Postgraduate Diploma in School Leadership, tutors request students to create a short narrated video presentation using tools to highlight their key insights from a recent activity. They are provided with instructions for a number of tools or they are free to select their own. The options include a Microsoft Office package, a basic screen capture programme that’s free to use for short videos and an online tool where students can produce their video entirely through their web browser. Once the video is created and hosted it is then embedded in their student page on Sulis so peers can watch & listen to their insights with the aim to foster discussions at a dedicated tutorial session.  The students will receive 15 marks for this with another 15 marks available for producing a blog post incorporating the video with the scholarly literature covered in the module and applying it to their own area of interest.

Course work

Reena has long been using Turnitin for similarity checks and the Grademark tool in Turnitin for giving qualitative feedback on writing assignments. In 2016 she made the move to also use the Rubric function so that now students received both quantitative and qualitative feedback on the ‘technical reviews’ (had to rename ‘essays’ as Engineers don’t like writing essays!). For a laboratory report assignment, she first used Grademark in 2017. As a tool, it requires initial time investment to get started and set up comments/rubrics, but this time is more than paid back in the efficiency in which detailed commentary and feedback can be given. She is an advocate for its use and always willing to share with others her experience with it.

EtivitiesDarina uses a variety of techniques in her online and on-campus modules on the MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning and Graduate Certificate in Technical Writing programmes.  She uses e-tivities (assignments that are ‘housed’ within the forums tool) that ask students to discuss topics, engage in peer review, identify their own learning styles, form a team and propose a topic for a project, identify team roles and sources of content for a project, and propose interface designs. Click here to see some example e-tivities. Even though e-tivities are housed within the forums tool, students can undertake the e-tivity assignment elsewhere and then submit an attachment or a link to their assignment, as a ‘reply’ to the e-tivity.  She finds that e-tivities work really well for students when e-tivity tasks are consistently presented and students know exactly what is expected of them.  In some modules, she uses the same e-tivities with online and on-campus students simultaneously.

Her students use Twitter to keep up-to-date with industry trends and articles. Students cite the module code hashtag (#el6052) when they tweet something that is of interest to classmates. As she has been using Twitter with her students for a few years, they have built a repository of relevant and interesting tweets from different cohorts, which all students can access.  Some students continue to use the module hashtag after they graduate.

She also coordinates an annual virtual team/ global documentation project with her colleague Yvonne Cleary and colleagues at the University of Central Florida and Université Paris-Diderot. Irish and US students write English documentation, which is then translated by French students, over a period of eight weeks. The entire project is undertaken online, giving students first-hand experience of virtual teamwork, which is commonplace in industry.

For teachers who are thinking of moving part or all of a module online, Darina shares this resource, which helps teachers pick suitable tools for different types of activities/ learning outcomes.  They might also be interested in her list of technology-enhanced learning tools and teaching resources.

March 2018

Our use of online assessments is through etivities which are designed to leverage meaningful and evidence-based online interactions via in-depth discussion boards and collaborative Wikis amongst many other technologies, the design of which are all rooted in social-constructivist theories of teaching and learning. These intentionally elicit ‘double-loop’ interaction between peers, critical engagement and facilitate a sense of community and peer support within the cohort, critical to an optimal level of learner engagement, whilst building a collaborative intelligence within each cohort, yet acknowledging the constraints and enablers of the individual professional context of each learner. Team working, collaborative tasks and social interaction all enhance the process of cognitive development and often result in greater evidence of the achievement of learning outcomes, as this allows for deeper engagement with concepts as multiple perspectives challenge existing assumptions.

A good example may be found in our In Company “Live” Project which all learners complete at the end of their first year on our 2 year part-time fully online MSc in Project and Programme Management. The project is delivered in 5 stages as illustrated below.

Centre for Project Management

This project is run over 7 weeks and during each stage learners are required to conduct peer reviews and provide constructive formative  feedback  through collaborative wiki spaces. The extract example below illustrates the etivity design and the type of interaction that takes place during stage 1.

This approach is repeated in each of the 5 stages and ultimately leads towards the final submission report and presentation – which is the main piece of assessment for the module (65%). The etivities themselves account for 10% of the module.


March 2018

The MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning, has both an online and an on-campus delivery mode and won the Grad Ireland Higher Education Awards 2018 Course of the Year Awards (Arts and Humanities). We use various types of online assessment techniques, including peer review, graded discussions, and e-tvities (see Darina Slattery 5-minute teaching talk about e-tivities in the Conversations in the Consortium series). Our students also undertake a virtual team assignment, in collaboration with technical communication students from the University of Central Florida, and translation students from Université Paris VII.

Course of the Year Winner

March 2018

As part of the module ME4523 Thermodynamics 1 Module in October 2017, we ran a first group assignment for 146 students (29 Groups). A second one is now open for module ME4526 Introduction to Heat Transfer.

Module ME4523

The objective of the assignment was to develop a greater understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and the flow of energy by studying a video clip of the groups choice that is being played in reverse. The assignment had multiple steps each with a specific deadline. Students accessed a Moodle Wiki top see what group they were assigned to. The first deliverable by each group was to draw up a Group Charter, exemplars and format was provided. Each member of the group submitted their Group Charter to Sulis (through an assignment link on Moodle). Then, they had to select or make a video-clip of choice (not longer than 10-20 seconds) which is played in reverse (it can played forwards also). The objective  of this group assignment is to analyse and form consensus why these processes cannot happen according to the second law of thermodynamics. The next phase consisted in a critical friend approach by each group in providing formal feedback on another groups video and 5 page draft report in each groups wiki page. In stage 5 each group had to produce a final report which critically reflected on the feedback they received and what they learned from engaging in both the collaborative group work and what they learned from engaging and providing feedback to their peers work. Each member of the group upload a copy of the their groups final report in Sulis  through an assignment link on Moodle. 146 Assignments received on time!

March 2018

Our module BR4001 Social and Civil Engagement, intends to promote students’ development of key graduate attributes through self-directed collaborative projects in issues related to social and civil engagement. In groups, they are required to design, run and present a campaign in a social and civil engagement issue. The module is assessed through an e-portfolio based on Wordpress which serves as a campaign website (40% in total), which includes explanation of the objective of their campaign, pictures, videos, marketing materials, a public presentation, and links to social media used for the campaign (usually Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat). They also need to include a group reflection mapping the experience to the Graduate Attributes, which complements individual blogging reflections submitted week on week during the process.

Graduate Attributes

May 2017

Antonio’s innovative approach to teaching and assessment, which he has branded as #CoolPE, is focused on preparing pre-service teachers for the inclusive classroom in a digital era. The module aims to prepare pre-service teachers to examine sociological concepts of teaching and learning in physical education (gender, obesity, religion, nomophobia, etc). Every lecture starts with a though provoking ‘clip of the week’. Following the video, in teams of four, pre-service teachers reflect on the thoughts of the student from the video and proposed ideas to help. Every lecture includes also an article of the week: teams had to answer different questions linked with the video and the article, which was projected in the class screen simulating a game show. The approach of assessment consists of:

  1. Team project: to design, develop and present a project addressing the unique needs of students from the ‘clip of the week’
  2. Design an infographic and share it through Twitter to engage in a social media chat with other teachers
  3. To write a blog post (using Blogger or Wordpress) reflecting about the whole learning experience

The assessment, which included a good element of self-evaluation, was managed through social media tools and Whatsapp. This innovation was awarded the Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching & Learning in 2017, through this video.