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Resources and Assessment Case Studies

Responding to student views on assessment:    Sarah Cooper

I joined BSc(Hons) Photographic Journalism in May 2013 as its course leader, and it became clear very early on that the students were lacking a sense of identity with the course. Many considered themselves as a student in Leeds, rather than a Photographic Journalism student at Leeds Beckett. This became the crux of the course planning and management: enhancing the students’ sense of autonomy and strengthening their relationship with the course and institution.

Strategies included appointing student reps as early as possible in the semester - usually week one - and meeting with the reps on a fortnightly basis. Any feedback from them was acted upon, and relayed back to them to communicate to the rest of the group. This increased their sense of autonomy and that they were being ‘heard’. One such piece of feedback highlighted that there was a lack of clarity with regards assessment criteria and that occasionally the students felt that lecturers had ‘favourites’ and that this was reflected in the marking. Certain measures were introduced to tackle this. For instance, all module leaders provided their module handbooks in the given template format, and these were distributed both online and in an A5 printed version. That printed version had a sense of permanence (ie: the assessment criteria was set) and also gave the students a sense of autonomy of their own learning materials - most would scribble and make notes on their printed version, thus tailoring the handbook to suit their own assessment ideas.

The assessment criteria were redeveloped to be as comprehensive as possible and also included formative assessments with deadlines. These mini deadlines facilitate formative feedback which clarifies the student’s progress and gives a clearer idea with regards to their expected grades. I also showed the students the university’s taxonomy of assessment domains, so they could see process behind developing the criteria. In addition, two-hour team meetings occurring fortnightly throughout the year - both during teaching and the summer - ensured that each module leader was able to gain a sense of the ‘bigger picture’, and how their module fitted into the overall structure. A key strength of the degree is the team, and this has been particularly exceptional, bearing in mind the hourly paid status of the majority of the team. A key part of the management of a successful team is knowing that everyone is working from the same page, and are open to managerial Feedback.

NSS Qu 8. The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance.

NSS Qu 25. It is clear how students’ feedback on the course has been acted on.

Resources: people, not just fancy equipment: Hugo Smith

 hugosmith_new.jpgOur course requires access to professional and/or semi-professional equipment. The School (CCTE) is responsible for a specialist learning support and equipment helpdesk. Staff support students at L4 to risk assess activity and to use equipment properly. This system works well and committed staff continually look to improve it. This coming year, in response to student demand, an online pre-booking system has been set-up. Listening and acting on student feedback around resources keeps students positive about our resource offer, and next year we hope to add online Risk Assessment functionality.

As important as this is the signposting of other less obvious resources by staff. Students are inherently nervous about admitting weakness to tutors. By signposting students to excellent resources at Skills For Learning in-class and to 1:1 support sessions with an Academic Librarian outside class, we have seen confidence grow at L4 and at crucial (for achievement and NSS) times at L6. These ‘soft’ resources, alongside signposting ready-to-read/watch content on Rebus Resource Lists on MyBeckett and use of recorded broadcast content on Leeds Beckett TV Player have helped students to get a broader view of what ‘resources’ might mean.
Tutors who welcome extra students from other awards/class groups into Lab space/computer rooms where space is available are engaged in the sharing of key resources at the exact moment when they are required by students. These tutors also foster an inclusive approach that makes our resources appear to be provided for individual students, not for the University as a distant entity.
In my view, our most powerful resource is those members of staff at all levels who take the time to cross a divide: to listen to students and understand an issue from their point of view.

This human resource is valuable in getting positive response to Q20. It also brings benefit to almost every other area that the NSS surveys. It is access to staff who care and who are able to offer time and thought that is key to student understanding of the range and quality of resources we offer.

NSS Qu 20. I have been able to access specialised equipment, facilities or rooms.


NSS story on Business and HRM course : Ali Sajjadi

alisajjadi.jpgOn BA (Hons) Business and HRM we achieved 90+ NSS score for 3 consecutive years. Then we changed the course leader twice in six months, and the overall satisfaction dropped to 72%. To get it back in the right place we started a three stage plan last academic year.
Stage One targeted final year students to gain their trust and work on their pressing issues - including timely feedback, prompt email responses, personal tutor support and formative support from the tutors.
Stage Two targeted some new interventions with second year students to help support course identity, including social events and experiential days at Beckett Park and Leeds Sailing Club.
Stage Three targeted first year students. In consultation with students, alumni, staff and employers significant changes were made to the course structure, including revised modules, additional modules, sustained contact with personal tutors and a revised title to reflect the new focus of the course.
First year results for our BSc (Hons) HRM and Business are already released and we could see a good improvement of 10% from 72% to 82% in the overall satisfaction with the course and 20% improvement in areas like ‘Assessment and Feedback’ and ‘Teaching on the Course’ This brings our score to 89.5% in the latter area and we are expecting improvement in NSS results every year over the three years of this plan.
About the great score of 93% in the area of ‘Learning Materials and Resources’ I have to give credit to our great academic librarians. They make continuous improvements each year. Their reading lists, added to each My Beckett module make it easy for students to quickly find relevant resources, all available in the library. Keeping these lists current and up to date is a valuable job that our academic librarians are doing very well. They are in close contact with the course team to make sure the latest books and academic resources are listed and then purchased for each module.
The physical facilities in the library also play an important role in the high NSS score. The little meeting rooms for students are very popular and the computer rooms and social spaces are always students’ favourite places to work together on their tasks. In addition to these, the new refurbishment in the library in City Campus plus the amazing 24/7 access to the library along with the friendly staff are all helping to achieve a high score on NSS.

NSS Qu 19. The library resources have supported my learning well.

Understanding the value of learning resources in the absence of technology : Helen Nichols

Helen Nichols.jpgPRisoN Learning Together is a 20 credit Level 6 optional module delivered across the BA(Hons) Criminology and BA(Hons) Criminology with Psychology degree programmes. The module, which focuses on the teaching of penology, hosts a unique cohort of students, half of whom are students based at LBU and half of whom are serving prisoners at HMP Full Sutton High Security Prison. Together, the cohort of students learn alongside each other in a classroom situated in the prison. The students, all of whom are registered with the university for the duration of the module, have combined lectures and seminars (LecSems) and are supported by a team of postgraduate students who volunteer to be module facilitators. They are also supported by their academic librarian, Kirsty Bower, who provides an introduction to the study skills required for the module and supports the students alongside the module leaders during visits to the prison in between LecSems. 

As the module is delivered in a prison, we have become acutely aware of the digital divide between the inside and outside world, particularly as it relates to teaching and learning strategy. Although at first one encounters the daunting prospect of delivering a module without a VLE, embedded links in a module handbook, and lack of access to online resources, the outcomes for the students provided clear evidence that the ‘classic tools’ of Higher Education remain invaluable resources in themselves. Getting ‘back to basics’, students relied solely on specially developed reading packs to support their independent work and it emerged that the absence of online ‘distractions’ enabled them to engage with academic literature in a more immersive way. Students based in Leeds were able to fully appreciate the benefit of engaging with academic literature and students based in the prison taught themselves to Harvard Reference simply by using Quote Unquote. This is not only testament to the skills resources provided by LBU Library, but also to the power of academic literature as the core foundation of degree level study.  

NSS Qu 19. The library resources have supported my learning well.

Using flipped lectures to focus on evaluation and application of knowledge : Lorette Porter

Lorette Porter.jpg
The BSc Speech and Language Therapy has a very broad curriculum due to regulatory and professional requirements, which translates into a heavy timetable of lectures as well as placements. The intrinsic nature of the lecture tends towards knowledge transmission – to an extent, this is what SLT students long for (and I can still recall): to be supplied with a ‘how-to’ of therapy. Yet clinical decision-making requires practitioners who can evaluate and apply knowledge. How can we support students to acquire these skills? Can IT facilitate another approach?

Flipped lectures
My colleague Sarah James, working with Rob Shaw, first introduced flipped lectures in the level 5 module Clinical Practice and Research, now led by Lindsey Thiel. In this module flipped lectures convey research methods content, and tutorials give students the opportunity to appraise research papers with tutor support. A similar format runs within other modules on the course, with an online lecture to deliver specific content followed by a workshop session to guide application of this knowledge.
Student feedback
There are several aspects to flipped lectures that students are consistently positive about:
● Being able to listen to the lecture at their own pace, repeating sections if they need to
●     Being able to choose the time to suit them – particularly valuable as we are a course with a high proportion of students with family commitments
●     Being able to listen later as part of revision or assignment preparation – students felt they were well prepared for assessment due to the use of flipped lectures
●     Students value the increased opportunities to ask questions and discuss the topics in tutorial/workshop sessions.
75% of last year’s level 5 students recommended the ongoing use of flipped lectures in the research module. Some of the drawbacks expressed they expressed were:
●     Fitting in the preparation needed for workshop/tutorial sessions
●     Various levels of engagement among the cohort – students found it frustrating when others in their group had not prepared adequately.
Tips from our experience
●     Getting the technology right: On PowerPoint you can record audio for each slide separately. This means that any ‘out-takes’ can be easily rectified, and students can easily listen to specific sections.
●     Keep the flipped lecture short (up to 30 minutes): don’t expect to cover everything you would in a 50-minute lecture.
●     Give students an opportunity to clarify anything they don’t understand from the online lecture with dedicated time in the workshop session or before it, using a discussion board.
Across the course the flipped lectures are just one of the ways we use IT resources. We also make extensive use of PebblePad, and have great support from the library for specific resources such as Anatomy TV. Do ask me about any of these during the Forum.

NSS Qu 18: The IT resources and facilities provided have supported my learning well.


Powerful uses of Panopto to support student learning : Yvonne Marsh

Mobile friendly Panopto can be used to manage, live stream, record and share videos.  It is straightforward to use. Recordings can be shared easily with individuals and/or with groups of students on MyBeckett modules. Here are some of the ways I use it to support student learning:

Lecture Capture: Panopto can be set up either manually or automatically to record lectures which are then uploaded onto the relevant MyBeckett module ready for students to access.  The recordings can be synched with PowerPoint presentations and, if necessary, can be easily edited.  All lectures in the Law School have been recorded in this way for the past two years and the feedback from students has been very positive.  Students like to refer to the recorded lectures as preparation for their workshops and/or as part of their revision programme.  Students can view the material multiple times using their mobile devices allowing them to digest content at their own pace.

Guest Lectures: I have used Panopto to record guest lectures delivered by practising lawyers (with their permission of course). Not only can students return to the lecture when they wish but the guest speaker doesn’t have to come in the following year at a time to suit the students’ timetable.

Course Induction: To avoid cognitive overload at the beginning of a course and to achieve a longitudinal induction I use Panopto to record my Course Induction and upload this onto MyBeckett. This way students can refer, or be directed to, pertinent course information as and when appropriate.

Alumni Tips: I recently used Panopto to record a former student’s Top Tips for Success and used this as part of induction for the new intake of students.  This proved very popular with students, who were far more receptive to tips given by a former student rather than from their tutors.

Presentation skills / Interviewing Skills: I use Panopto regularly and in a number of different ways in relation to practical skills including interviewing and presentation skills. Panopto has proved very useful in helping the students develop these skills. I use Panopto to record part or all of the skills workshops so that students can view and reflect on their performances and the feedback received from tutors and peers.

Assessment and Moderation: I have used Panopto to record formative assessments and feedback as well as for the summative assessments. As Panopto recordings are easy and secure to share this helps with both internal and external moderation. Recordings of summative assessments can be sent to external examiners without them having to log into any digital platform. All I have to do is send them an email with a direct weblink to the specific assessment(s).  The feedback from external examiners using Panopto has been very positive.

Top Tip: Michael Hirst, who has been extremely helpful, is the person in IT services to contact for guidance on Panopto.

NSS Qu 18: The IT resources and facilities provided have supported my learning well.

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