Blog: Aligning Learning, Teaching and Assessment in HE Curricula with Dr Naomi Winstone – National Forum Seminar Series
On February 1st 2019, the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development (LEAD) Centre convened a National Forum Seminar workshop “Aligning Learning, Teaching and Assessment in the Design of Higher Education Curricula” facilitated by Dr. Naomi Winstone (Director of University of Surrey’s Assessment and Learning Lab). The seminar aimed to: a) discuss different theoretical approaches to student assessment and feedback; b) apply these approaches to adopt an outcomes based approach to curriculum design and c) consider assessment strategies at modular and programmatic levels so that planning for assessment constructively aligns with both the module and programme learning outcomes. Recognising that assessment is a key 'driver’ of student learning (Race, 2010), the seminar sought to equip participants with the skills to ensure that assessment of, for and as learning is placed to the fore of curriculum and learning design.
The practical and interactive seminar adopted an outcomes-based approach to designing for learning, with a focus on how assessment of, as and for learning (National Forum, 2017b) can support learners to evidence the achievement of module and programme learning outcomes. Participants were supported to critically examine current approaches to assessment (both formative and summative) and to redesign existing assessment strategies so that the assessment constructively aligns with both the module and/or programme learning outcomes and teaching strategies.
The overall theme of day was aligning assessment in curriculum design and how this can support the learning and teaching process (Winstone & Carless 2019). A range of insightful and innovative approaches to assessment brought much “food for thought” and inspiration to our colleagues in Mary Immaculate College and those visiting from other Higher Education Institutions around Ireland.
Module Assessment & Learning Map
LEAD and seminar participants discussed different theoretical approaches to student assessment and feedback while also applying these approaches to adopt outcomes-based approaches to learning design.
Throughout the seminar, colleagues shared and discussed a diverse range of assessment practices. Participants constructed and planned assessment strategies using a pre-chosen module and applied the Module Assessment and Learning Map. Throughout the exercise, participants were supported to critically examine current approaches to the assessment (both formative and summative) of this module. By redesigning the existing assessment and learning strategy, participants could better understand how the module’s assessment and feedback constructively aligns with both the module learning outcomes and teaching strategies.
Feedback for Learning
To ensure that assessment of, for and as learning (National Forum 2017a) is placed at the forefront of learning design we were asked to consider the role of feedback in this process. Feedback through dialogue, building student’s use of feedback for learning and ensure that our feedback has somewhere to ‘land’. Using the Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit (DEFT) (Winstone & Nash 2016), participants were encouraged to consider the sequencing of assessment in the module design in order to enable students to use feedback from prior tasks to inform their approach to current tasks. The High Impact Feedback quick reference guide provides lectures with examples of the ‘New Paradigm’ on Feedback as Dialogic Process. Encouraging the focus to be on student engagement while providing feedback on the student-identified areas they would like to improve on.
Assessment & Feedback in MIC
Building on the National Forum’s extensive work on Assessment of, for and as learning this seminar provided direction and advice on programme assessment and feedback encouraging staff and visiting colleagues to reflect on their own approaches to assessment. At MIC, the LEAD Centre supports assessment and feedback for programme design in MIC guided by the College’s Assessment and Feedback Policy. LEAD provides guidance on assessment and feedback design and research expertise on measuring the impact of assessment on students’ learning and experience. If you would like to find out how LEAD can help, please contact one of the team or click on the link for more information on Programme Assessment in MIC.
Dr Anne Ryan, Academic Developer - LEAD
- Mary Immaculate College (2018) Assessment & Feedback Policy.
- National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (2017a) The Principles of Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning.
- National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2017b) "Enhancing Programme Approaches to Assessment and Feedback in Irish Higher Education: Case Studies, Commentaries and Tools," in teachingandlearning.ie, Published July 7, 2017, available: https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/publication/enhancing-programme-approaches-to-assessment-and-feedback-in-irish-higher-education-case-studies-commentaries-and-tools/.
- National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2017c) "Expanding our Understanding of Assessment and Feedback in Irish Higher Education," in teachingandlearning.ie, Published March 30, 2017, available: https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/publication/expanding-our-understanding-of-assessment-and-feedback-in-irish-higher-education/.
- Race, P. (2010) Making Learning Happen: 2nd Edition, London, U.K.: Sage Publications.
- Winstone, N. & Carless, D. (forthcoming, 2019) Designing for student uptake of feedback in higher education, London: Routledge.
- Winstone, N. & Nash, R. (2016) The Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit (DEFT), York, U.K.: Higher Education Academy, Published September 6, 2016, available: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/developing-engagement-feedback-toolkit-deft