Y1Feedback and Assessment Conference

This brief post alerts readers to the Y1Feedback Project and provides some personal reflections on last week’s International Assessment in Higher Education Conference.

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The Y1Feedback Project is a collaborative effort between Maynooth University (Project lead), Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin City University and Dundalk Institute of Technology. The project is being led by Lisa O’Regan with the support of a strong  research and development team. In brief the Y1Feedback Project seeks to improve and develop feedback dialogue in first year undergraduate programmes to support student transition by using digital technologies. So far the team is in the process of reviewing relevant literature and completing the analysis of a baseline staff and student survey of feedback practices in our respective institutions. We have already shared some of the preliminary findings of this survey at national and international conferences. To our surprise last week we won the “Best Poster” award at the International Assessment in Higher Education Conference. Our Y1Feedback website contains more information about this National Forum funded project and please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team should you wish to learn more about the project.

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Reflections on the Assessment Conference – Elaine Walsh

Last week several members of the Y1Feedback team attended the International Assessment in Higher Education Conference in Birmingham. The following reflections on the conference come from Elaine Walsh who represents DCU and the NIDL on the Y1Feedback Project.

“I kicked-off the Assessment Conference in Birmingham by attending a master class by Tansy Jessop (University of Winchester) on Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA). What a fantastic start to the conference.

The parallel sessions were full of so many great talks that I found it hard to choose between them. However, I wasn’t disappointed by any of the sessions I managed to attend. It was great to have issues around assessment being discussed by such knowledgeable people.

The opening keynote by Dr Maddalena Taras definitely got me thinking. The key aspect of this presentation, that I took away, was the importance of questioning. Also, we (as academics) should be mindful that our judgement on a person’s work can have a real effect on their lives. Therefore, we must be able to justify our judgement. We must make our implicit thinking explicit!

My take on the closing keynote by Professor Jo-Anne Baird was the increasing focus on assessment in teaching and learning and the need for transparency without creating dependency.

The competition was on as the battle of the posters commenced. There were 43 posters in the competition and we each had three minutes to get our message across. While my work on designing an assessment strategy and supporting assessment writers (Assessment Strategy: Online Distance Education) did not win!!! I was thrilled to be part of the winning poster.  The Y1Feedback Project is proving to be an excellent collaboration between Maynooth University (Lisa O’Regan), Athlone Institute of Technology (Naula Harding and Geraldine McDermott), Dublin City University (Mark Brown and Elaine Walsh) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (Moira Maguire and Gerry Gallagher).

It wasn’t all about assessment though as we had an hour to check out some of the local sights in Birmingham. We had a drink while looking out over the canal and toasted to our win. What a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting conference. Looking forward to 2017!”

Building Digital Capacity Projects

In early January work commenced on two development projects aimed at building digital capacity funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

The first project focuses on the research and development of a Toolbox for Flexible Learners in order to promote student success at early stages of the study lifecycle. This project is being led by Dr James Brunton in the NIDL and involves three partner institutions. A dedicated project website will be launched in the next couple of months and the project team is currently busy starting a comprehensive literature review that will help to inform the selection of the digital tools to be developed over the course of the year. A number of national and international presentations are also planned over the next six months to share various aspects of this work. We have just submitted our first paper for the EDEN conference in June.

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The second National Forum funded project we are actively contributing to involves the important area of digitally mediated assessment/feedback, which is known in the literature to significantly influence the nature of the student learning experience. This Project, led by Lisa O’Regan at Maynooth University, has made excellent progress after a full-day meeting in early January to get the work underway. Each partner institution is now working on obtaining ethical approval for our baseline survey of current practice. Elaine Walsh and Mark Brown in the NIDL are leading the DCU part of this study. This is a two-year externally funded project that will lead to a number of case studies which we hope will highlight key lessons for other institutions. Again a dedicated project website will be launched in the next few months and several presentations of our work are planned, including a poster at the UK Assessment in Higher Education Conference.