Friday, June 11, 2010

Temasek Polytechnic International Teaching & Learning Conference

day two began with a video produced to celebrate the Temasek Polytechnic 20th anniversary.

First session was presented by four students speaking on their experiences of assessment processes. A good opportunity for the student voice to be heard :) a range of project based / realistic / real-world focused / applied assessments were described by the four very articulate students. The assessments were underpinned by a problem based learning focus including group work, peer assessments, reflective journals and team / individual projects.

The first keynote was with Professor David Boud on "a new assessment agenda: equipping students for the continuing challenges of learning and assessment". His presentation covered why assessments seemed to have failed educationally and pedagogically and how to move assessments and transform them towards supporting longer term learning. A key factor in changing assessment practices is to shift the ways in educational practioners' assessment thinking.

Assessments have failed as it tends to drive compliance, not initiative; foster depenency by learners on assesors and being assessed; backward looking to what has been rather than what may be achieved; makes us fearful rather than build confidence and depletes capacity rather than builds it. Reasons for this state of affairs include a fixation with certification and with measurement (e.g. norm referencing which is based on the performance of student cohorts and the standard is there set by each group!).

Into the future, we do not know what we must prepare for students for as the future is unknown. Therefore, students need to be prepared to cope with the requirements of the future. Assessments mean different things to different people. Assessments have moved from educational measurement to competence, authenticity and attributes and in the future moves to building capacity for judgement. This then provides students with skills to cope with future needs.

Therefore, shift in assessment thinking involves - from teacher to learning centred; from testing knowledge to judging outcomes; assessing subjects to judging professional capability; and testing students to producing learners.

Current agenda of assessment includes assessment based on explicit standards, constructive alignment between desired learning outcomes, teaching & learning activities & assessment; well-timed, high quality feedback to students; and assessment of graduate attributes. Need to move assessments from certification(summative assessments) to aiding learning (formative assesments) and fostering lifelong learning (sustainable assessment).

Sustainable assessments look beyond the immediate context, avoids creating dependency and focuses on higher-order knowledge and skills in context. Needs to develop informed judgement by developing students capacity to make judgement; assessments are about informing students' own judgement and opportunities for developing informed judgement to be staged across a programme. also needs to construct reflexive learners by involving students in assessment, position students to see themselves as learners who are pro-active and generative and focus on reflexivity and self-regulation though every aspect of a course. also forms the becoming practioner as assessments help calibrate judgement; develops confidence and skills to manage their own learning and assessments and develops capacity to work effectively with others to assist learning and mutually develop informed judgement.

After morning tea, the second keynote for the day from Ass. Prof. Gary Poole from the University of Columbia who presented on "I care and I can: the importance of student attitutes towards course relevance and their ability to succeed. Why does it matter to educators that different people have different beliefs about whether they can or cannot do something. Gary covered two items. Why the content of the presentation is important and how pedogogical practices can help to encourage students to succeed.

The ways students think about a subject, affects their learning of that subject. This includes the extent with which students find relevance and value in the subject matter; different students' perceptions about the difficulty or intellectual accessibility of course material. Therefore, I care - beliefs about relevance and I can - beliefs about self-efficacy.

Do we introduce a problem before or after the presentation of content? After - case based, can apply newly acquired knowledge to problem. Before - problem based, can place new knowledge in the context of the problem and can see the relevance of the knowledge early.

how will students know that they can? Then may find out from their teachers or from other students. Students need to be cognisant of the need for effort on their part as an important adjunct to their own natural ability and the help of others. Teachers need to set 'problems' which are clear, challenging and relevant and to know now much support should be provided for students to learn through solving the problem.

Morning session ended with the the results carried out by two students of a student survey on I care / I can carried out at Temasek Polytechnic.

questions include 'for me, the person who usually drives my learning are -- students themselves (70%) with lecturers, parents etc. very much less

'I will accept the diploma if offered to me right now without any work or courses' 90% said NO.

Reasons for answers include I need to acquire the necessary knowledge/skills (60%), i do not feel right to recieve something for nothing, studying gives sense of satisfaction.

how confident are students when they first start? - 90% confident

ability to succeed is within your control - almost 80% strongly agree

factors which help students succeed? Students efford almost 80%, both lecturers & student support also important.

most important factor which motivates learning? acquiring knowledge & getting good job around 35%.

students require relevance of studies to future career - yes.

therefore students care about acquiring knowledge /skills, they are confident and willing to work and if shown relevance of content will maintain motivation.

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