Wednesday, 29 June 2016

July Break

Dear All

Just to say that posts will start again in August on the Teaching Induction Blog.

Look forward to talking with you then.



Sunday, 26 June 2016

To assess or not to assess?

I'm wondering about the issue of 'assessment' in any induction program. Of course, we know for the purposes of grant providers and our universities, we have to 'evaluate' the program, but do we 'assess' the participants? (And therein lies another conundrum: we call staff attending our programs 'participants' not 'students', so are we somehow suggesting they are not 'learning' something?) The concepts that Tai and Peter identified as at the heart of professional development for staff are useful; they tell us much about the 'philosophy' of our programs, but not really if our staff have actually 'learnt' them. 

We have insufficient 'evidence' that professional development can DIRECTLY improve student learning, although there is evidence (perhaps not enough) that those who have undertaken longer programs have higher student evaluations, and are more 'student-centred' in their teaching approaches. 

But should we 'assess' staff in an induction program? And what form should that assessment take?
I would like to suggest that we consider self and peer assessment at least. As 'postgraduates' our staff should be relatively mature in their ability to discern and honestly assess their own learning, if we have fairly explicit learning objectives or outcomes, not something vague like 'shows a positive disposition to student-centred learning'.

But how would we construct a peer assessment? If the program is mainly online, it is RELATIVELY difficult to 'test' attitudes, and knowledge and skills, all of which make up the 'learning' we'd expect. We wouldn't want an 'essay' would we? But a Discussion Board wouldn't be an adequate form of testing either. 

I'm not sure of the answers here, but I think it would be a useful exercise to ask 'participants' to devise a form of 'test' that might be appropriate for peer assessment. Any thoughts?

Liu, N. & Carless, D. (2006). Peer feedback: the learning element of peer assessment, Teaching in Higher Education, 11:3, 279-290, DOI: 10.1080/13562510600680582

Yoni Ryan

Adjunct Professor in Higher Education: QUT, 
U Tasmania Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) Learning and Teaching Unit