Students and academics from our consultations shared similar views on wanting assessments to be engaging, well structured, have elements of reflection and a connection to communities within the city. Based on this as well as the aim of incorporating multimodal forms of assessment and student-led generated content, the following types of assessments were designed:
- Reflective Assessments
- Group Assessments
A number of academics we consulted who had incorporated reflective assessments in their own courses at the University, underscored the role reflective assessments can have in enabling students to develop self-awareness as members of the wider community of Edinburgh.
56.5% of students who took our survey chose reflective assessments as one of their preferred modes of assessment. This pointed to what a number of academics we had consulted mentioned, in regard to some students being open to try out different forms of assessment while some being apprehensive about them. Students from the focus groups shared that they would be keen to take up different assessments such as reflective pieces if they felt that they received enough support and clear guidelines.
This course prototype incorporates two reflective assessments which follow on from the two explorations that students will undertake.
Reflective Assessment 1
- Based on game-based exploration.
- Students will write an individual reflective piece on their experiences, highlighting aspects such as challenges faced, lessons learned from navigating the city etc.
- A short piece of 500 words with evidence submitted in the form of photos, videos, audio files.
- Both tutor and peer assessed with a 70/30 split respectively. Grades can be calculated with online tools on Learn such as WebPA.
- Will not count to final grade. Intended to give students a chance to practice reflection, receiving and giving feedback.
Reflective Assessment 2
- Based on activity-based exploration.
- Students will individually complete the question brief for their chosen activities.
- A short piece of 500 words with evidence submitted in the form of photos, videos and audio files.
- Both tutor and peer assessed with a 60/40 split respectively. Grades can be calculated with online tools on Learn such as WebPA.
- Will count to final grade.
(Note: Evidence submitted in multimodal forms such as photos and videos can be collected to create an online exhibition using platforms such as TRU Collector SPLOT which can be built across different cohorts.)
GROUP PROJECT ASSESSMENTS
As was mentioned under Exploring the city 73.3% of students who took the survey noted that the opportunity to interact with students from other schools is one of the main motivators to enroll in an interdisciplinary course. Findings from our focus groups also highlighted how students were keen to engage with assessments that would have some link to engaging with communities within Edinburgh.
The group project in this prototype is designed to allow students to explore a particular challenge within the context of Edinburgh using an interdisciplinary approach. Here, students will gain an understanding of a problem and present this understanding. The focus of the project is not on developing solutions but on problem identification. The aim of this group project is to help students understand how complex problems, issues, and challenges can be understood better by using different disciplines.
The group project picks up on the challenges included in the themes for each street studied in the preceding weeks. Similar to groups for exploration, groups can be designed from different schools to form a group. With groups of about 4-5 students.
After choosing a challenge and street to focus on, each group will:
- Explore the challenge and its origin, causes, and evolution.
- Map out (and meet some) actors by identifying the individuals and/or organisations affected by and/or solving the challenge.
- Fill out group reflective logs that are structured and allow students to be graded based on both the process of group work as well as the output (template for this will be provided).
- Prepare and deliver a presentation on their findings of the challenge.
The groups will, therefore, be assessed based on their Group Reflective logs and Presentations.
Stages of the group project
Group Project Preparation:
- Students will be given introductory guides on teamwork skills and the preparation of group reflective logs.
- Students will be provided with a list of streets and challenges from which each group will choose a challenge and street to focus on.
For example, a group may choose to explore the challenge of representation of marginalized groups in STEM using Observatory Road as a starting point
- Students will individually research more on their chosen focus and compare findings within their groups. They will also be provided with online content on how to collate and analyse data, so as to further guide them.
- Groups will then map out actors involved in/affected by/ working to solve the challenge. They will be required to map out as many actors so as to gain as wide an understanding of the various players as they can.
For example, a group exploring the challenge of representation of marginalized groups in STEM using Observatory Road as a starting point might identify actors such as Association of BME Engineers in the UK, Scottish government advisory groups and student groups such as the Women in STEM society
- Groups will fill in their first Group Reflective Log. This will be in form of a template asking for answers highlighting their progress, challenges faced and steps they intend to take for the future. This will also be accompanied by evidence submitted in the form of photos, videos and audio files.
- Students will be provided with content on conducting interviews, such as preparing and asking effective questions, as well as the ethics around interviewing.
- Students will also be provided with tips on how to organise diverse information into a presentation format so as to guide them in starting to prepare for their presentations.
- Groups will meet a minimum number of actors.
For example, a group exploring the challenge of representation of marginalized groups in STEM using Observatory Road as a starting point would choose to meet Women In STEM society and professors working towards this issue
(Note: Though this stage doesn’t involve a comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, it has been included to introduce students to the need for community participation in problem identification. As groups have mapped out different actors, the meetings will be carried out with the awareness that other actors exist.)
- For groups that will still need to meet actors, they will continue to do so in this stage.
- Students will be provided with information on how to give a good presentation, including tips on presentation slides and scripts as they finalise preparing their presentations.
- Groups will fill in their final Group Reflective Log. This will be in form of a template asking for answers highlighting their progress, challenges faced and steps they intend to take for the future. This will also be accompanied by evidence submitted in the form of photos, videos and audio files.
- Groups will present to a small audience made up of fellow students, the course organisers, and other potential stakeholders.
(Note: The presentations student create can be used as content for future years as course organizers will be able to use them to introduce new themes and new streets)
What next after problem identification?
How to identify and understand a problem is itself a complex and multi-stage process. The idea is that this project will make students aware of the issues in the immediate community around them. With this understanding of various problems, students will then be able to go forward and apply this understanding in their own unique way. This could range from students trying to apply their degree programmes towards developing solutions, volunteering for organizations or even pledging to make lifestyle changes that could affect this problem.
A simple way to collect the students’ thoughts on what actions to take after the course, could be having a simple signing board at the end of the final presentation where students can write short pledges and reflections on their experience with the group project and entire course as a whole.