Theory and Practice - University of Ulster

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Assessment and Feedback Principles
Theory and Practice
David Nicol
Visiting Professor in Centre for Higher Education Practice
University of Ulster
Emeritus Professor: University of Strathclyde
Website: reap.ac.uk
Festival of Innovative Practice 18 June 2013
Magee Campus
Plan
 Background: Assessment and Feedback principles
 Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP) project:
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University of Strathclyde 2005-7
Ulster’s principles: research basis and examples
Dynamics of Implementation
JISC-funded Viewpoints project (University of
Ulster): the A&F design toolkit
A principles-based discourse approach to institutional
change.
REAP: Re-engineering Assessment Practices project
 Scottish Funding Council (£1m): 2005-2007
 Goals: learning quality and teaching efficiencies
 3 HEIs (Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian Business
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School, Glasgow University)
Large 1st year classes (160-900 students)
Range of disciplines (19 modules ~6000 students)
Many technologies: online tests, simulations, discussion
boards, e-portfolios, e-voting, peer/feedback software,
VLE, online-offline
Outputs: new practices, institutional embedding
Assessment for learner self-regulation
www.reap.ac.uk
Barriers to transformational change
in teaching and learning institution-wide
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Lack of shared educational frame of reference to
guide innovations in practice
Difficulty defining good educational practice
Isolation of academics from educational research
Disciplinary differences in teaching and learning
Weak links between local practices and educational
policies and strategies
Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in
See Nicol & Draper (2009)
Background (1)
 Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C (2004)Conditions under which
assessment supports students learning, Learning and
Teaching in Higher Education, 1, 3-31.
See:
 Formative Assessment in Science Teaching (FAST)
project at: http://www.open.ac.uk/science/fdtl/
Gibbs and Simpson (2004)
Assessment tasks [Conditions 1-4]
1. Capture enough study time (in and out of class)
2. Are spread out evenly across timeline of study
3. Lead to productive activity (deep vs surface)
4. Communicate clear and high expectations
i.e concern here is with ‘steers’ about how much work to
do and the quality of what is done
Background (2)
Literature Review
 Nicol, D. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative
assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and
seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in
Higher Education, 34 (1), 199-218
 Nicol, D & Milligan, C. (2006), Rethinking technologysupported assessment practices in relation to the seven
principles of good feedback practice. In C. Bryan & K.
Clegg, Innovative assessment in higher education,
Routledge.
Background
 Student Enhanced Learning through Effective Feedback
[SENLEF] project funded by HE Academy
Key aspects of research
 Students are always engaged in self-assessment/ self-
regulation of their own learning (Winne, 2005).
 The act of using teacher feedback implies that self-
assessment must be present (Black and Wiliam, 1998).
 Feedback in HE is being reduced so how are students still
learning.
 The question is: how can we scaffold students’ learning
so they become better at self-regulation (Lajoie, 2005)
Rethinking assessment and feedback
1. Consider self and peers as much as the teacher as sources
of assessment and feedback
 Tap into different qualities than teacher can provide
 Provides considerable learning benefits
 Better use of teacher time
2. Focus on every step of the cycle:
 Understanding the task criteria (Sadler, 1983)
 Applying what is learned in action
3. Not just written feedback:
 Also computer, dialogue, formal and informal
Seven principles of good A&F practice
1. Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria,
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
standards).
Facilitate the development of reflection and selfassessment in learning
Deliver high quality feedback to students: that enables
them to self-correct
Encourage peer and student-teacher and peer dialogue
around learning
Encourage positive motivational beliefs & self esteem
through assessment
Provide opportunities to act on feedback
Provide information to teachers that can be used to help
shape their teaching
Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006)
Two meta-principles
Meta-principle 1: time and effort on task (in and out of
class (engagement) i.e. steers on how much work to
do and when – Gibbs and Simpson 4 conditions
Meta-principle 2: developing learner self-regulation
(empowerment/self-regulation) i.e steers to
encourage ownership of learning – the Nicol and
Macfarlane-Dick 7 principles.
Original Principles of Assessment and Feedback
Engagement
1. Assessment tasks capture sufficient study time (in and out of class)
2. Are spread out evenly across timeline of study
3. Lead to productive activity (deep learning)
4. Communicate clear and high expectations
Gibbs and Simpson (2004)
Empowerment
1. Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards).
2. Facilitate the development of reflection and self-assessment in learning
3. Deliver high quality feedback to students: that enables them to self-correct
4. Encourage peer and student-teacher and peer dialogue around learning
5. Encourage positive motivational beliefs & self esteem through assessment
6. Provide opportunities to act on feedback
7. Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape their teaching
Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006)
The REAP project
Implementation
Local redesigns
 19 module redesigns: principles guided implementations
 Success: learning gains in exams (11 out of 19 modules)
improved quality w/o extra costs, high levels of student
satisfaction, efficiency gains.
Institutional developments
 Dep. Principal T&L set up working group: new A&F policy
(Strathclyde) grounded in principles agreed by Senate
 Principles embedded in QA procedures
 Many departmental/university initiatives referencing
REAP and using the principles
 Sharing of good practice using principles as reference
 Widespread use of principles:nationally & internationally
Barriers to transformational change
in teaching and learning institution-wide
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Lack of shared educational frame of reference to
guide innovations in practice
Difficulty defining good educational practice
Isolation of academics from educational research
Disciplinary differences in teaching and learning
Weak links between local practices and educational
policies and strategies
Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in
See Nicol & Draper (2009)
Thinking behind REAP
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The vision – Assessment and Feedback should support
the development of learner self-regulation
A set of assessment & feedback principles based on
research – to operationalise this vision
Principles as translation device – to make the research
accessible to busy academics
Implementation strategy: REAP team supported course
teams engaged in redesigns (i.e. application of A&F
principles in modules and programmes and technologies)
Evaluation of innovations to build institutional
commitment
Addressing the barriers to change
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Lack of shared frame of reference to guide
innovations: the big idea and principles
Difficulty defining good educational practice
Isolation of academics from educational research:
simplifying research into some key ideas
Disciplinary differences – tight-loose structure of
principles
Weak links between local practices and educational
policies and strategies – single set of educational
ideas, tying each course design to policy framework
Challenge of getting multi-stakeholder buy-in
Good formative assessment and feedback practices should:
1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards)
2. Encourage time an effort on challenging learning tasks
3. Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct
4. Provide opportunities to act on feedback
5. Ensure that summative assessment supports formative
learning processes
6. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer, t-st)
7. Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning
8. Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of
assessments.
9. Involve students in decision making about assessment policy and
practice
10. Support the development of learning groups and communities
11. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
12. Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape teaching
Principles of assessment and
feedback for learning
Clarify good performance
Help to clarify, from the early stages of a programme, what good performance means (goals, criteria, standards);
Encourage time and effort on task
Encourage 'time and effort' on challenging learning tasks, which recognise the importance of learning from the tasks,
not just demonstrating learning through tasks;
Deliver timely high quality feedback
Deliver timely learner-related feedback information that helps students to self-correct and communicates clear, high,
expectations and professionalism;
Provide opportunities to act on feedback
Provide opportunities for students to act on feedback and close any gap between current and desired performance
through complementary and integrated curriculum design and pedagogic practice;
Encourage positive motivational beliefs
Ensure that all assessment has a beneficial, constructive, impact on student learning, encouraging positive motivational
beliefs, confidence and self-esteem;
Develop self-assessment and reflection
Facilitate the development of self- and peer-assessment skills and reflection on learning, to enable students to
progressively take more responsibility for their own learning, and to inspire a lifelong capacity to learn;
Encourage interaction and dialogue
Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning and professional practice (student-student, lecturer-student and
lecturer-lecturer) including supporting the development of student learning groups and peer learning communities.
Good assessment and feedback practice should
Clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria,
standards).
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Teacher provides criteria before task insufficient
Teachers provide a range of model answers
Students derive criteria from exemplars before the task
Students create criteria for new task
Students compare own work against standards descriptors
Students rank peer work in order of quality and discuss
Students must develop a concept of quality
Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage time and effort on task
 Reduce size and increase number of learning tasks
 Give small number of marks for completion
 Provide tasks as out-of class homework activities that link
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to in-class activities (e.g. MCQs)
Group tasks are important here (e.g. EVS)
Create structures that promote ownership and effort
Good assessment and feedback practice should:
Delver timely high quality feedback: that helps students
to self-correct
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Students request feedback they wish (cover sheet)
Feedback on processes and skills – maximise transfer
Don’t give feedback – point to resources where
answer/issue can be elaborated
Feedback on students’ self-assessments and/or peer
reviews
Calibrate students’ ability to make evaluative judgements
(see Hattie and Timperley, 2007)
Good assessment and feedback should:
Provide opportunities to act on (respond to) feedback
Students respond to teacher feedback in writing
Sequence assignments so feedback is used
Provide feedback as action points
Students say how used feedback when submit next
assignment [proforma]
 Reward use of feedback in a new task (Gunn, 2010)
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Ensures feedback is processed and leads to knowledge
building.
Key principle if your goal is to enhance NSS results
Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
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Encourage climate of respect and accountability
Sequence tasks for progressive level of difficulty
Use real life (authentic) learning tasks
Give learners choice in topic, methods, criteria
Implement other principles (group working etc)
Balance structure with increasing learner responsibility
About giving students a sense of control over their learning
Good assessment and feedback should:
Develop self-assessment (and peer assessment skills) and
reflection.
 Students identify what is strong and weak when
they hand in an assignment
 Provide an abstract with an essay (reflection)
 Implement peer review where students’ comment on
each other’s work (see Nicol, 2013: Nicol et al, 2013)
then review their own work
Give students practice in making evaluative judgements
Good assessment and feedback should:
Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning
(peer, student-lecturer, lecturer-lecturer)
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Electronic voting methods: polling and peer discussion
Discussions of feedback in tutorials
Peer review using pairs and groups
Collaborative assignments
Wrap dialogue around all assessment processes (Nicol,
2010)
Attenuates teachers’ voice and strengthens students’
voice (shifts responsibility towards students)
Key focus of current research
 Developing students’ capacity to make evaluative
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judgements about own and other’s work (Boud, 2013:
Sadler, 2013: Nicol, 2013).
Making judgements has not received enough attention
in HE (Cowan, 2010)
Evaluative capability underpins all graduate attributes
(Nicol, 2009)
Assessment in HE does not replicate what happens in
professional practice
Peer review – producing reviews is qualitatively
different from receiving reviews (Nicol et al, 2013)
Questions and discussion
Bigger picture: learning from REAP
Principles-based approach has great potential
 People talked about and used the principles – an
emerging discourse
 Widespread take-up of principles in UK and
internationally – principles legacy more enduring than
REAP innovations themselves
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Question: how to take things further forward so that
the ideas and discourse spread more rapidly and
deeply across the whole institution.
The JISC-funded Viewpoints project
Took the REAP assessment and feedback principles
and put them ‘in the hands of the user’
 The principles as a workshop tookit - prompts to
think through an assessment and feedback design.
 The principles as ‘social objects’ to seed and sustain
a new educational discourse.
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http://wiki.ulster.ac.uk/display/VPR/Home
Assessment and Feedback Principles
REAP (http://www.reap.ac.uk/)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Clarify good performance.
Encourage time and effort on task.
Deliver high quality feedback.
Provide opportunities to act on feedback.
Encourage interaction and dialogue.
Develop self-assessment and reflection.
Give assessment choice.
Encourage positive motivational beliefs.
Inform and shape your teaching.
*Implementation ideas for each principle on back of cards.
Viewpoints
Assessment and Feedback workshop
The Artefacts:Timeline worksheet & Principles
Discussing the objective
 Course team agree the objective for their session
and write it at the top of the module worksheet.
Reading the front of the cards
 The team read the principles on the front of the
cards, choosing ones appropriate to their
objective.
Mapping the cards to the learner timeline
The team take their selected cards and map them to
the appropriate point on the timeline (e.g. at the
induction phase, during first few weeks of course)
Reading examples on cards
 Workshop participants turn the cards over and read
the examples/ideas on the back.
Choosing relevant examples
 The team might select or
adapt any examples that
would fit with their course
objective and their
teaching practice.
Adding in own ideas/comments
 The team produce their own examples, ideas,
comments and use post-it notes develop their own
assessment and feedback design.
Workshop outputs
•
•
•
Form basis of an
Assessment &
Feedback (or other
theme) strategy
Provide reference for
future course team
discussions (planning
resource)
Key information will be
transcribed into table
(Word or other format)
Users/teams define the outputs
These can be orderly or messy – it’s up to you
Features of workshop discourse
1. Agenda set by participants (course teams)
2. Peer interaction, discussion and sharing of ideas
3. Concepts/examples on cards inform discussion (i.e. It is
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
research informed)
Principles call on each other in use
Construct & co-construct meaning – not about telling
Learner-focused not content focused
Problem-focused yet exploratory and creative
Structured by a timeline
Socially engaging- like a board game
Ideas extend beyond the workshop
Evaluation of REAP, Viewpoints and of other HE
institutions that have used educational principles
 Model of change extrapolated
 Principles-based discourse model
 Discourse shapes how people think about things and
therefore how they act; and how people act and think
about things shape their discourses. (Marshak and
Grant, 2011)
Principles-based discourse model for change
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Way of addressing change in complex organisations
Discourse is not just about conversations but also about
written texts, official documents, emails, memos,
stories, narratives, metaphors, slogans etc.
Focuses on meaning-making and the social construction
of reality
About back-stage processes as much as front-stage
events
Focus is discourse as a driver for change not just as a
symptom
There are already discourses about assessment and feedback but are
these educationally informed?
Extending the reach:
many contexts of application
Many reference points and opportunities for
discussion in other forums and contexts
 Facilitated by support services (LLL, TEL, Acad
Practice Unit), staff induction, staff development,
through revalidation & course review processes, and
devolved to departments to meet their needs
 Links made when discussing other agendas – graduate
attributes, employability etc.
 Through student initiatives
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Embedding the discourse in
documents and texts
In educational policy (Strathclyde, Ulster)
 In publicity materials for students and staff
 In reference documents – QAA procedures, audit,
course approval and review, student evaluations,
external examiners briefing docs, etc.
 As framework to comment on other educational
innovations – linking language
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Some of my Publications
Nicol, D., Thomson, A. and Breslin, C (2013) Rethinking feedback practices in higher education:
a peer review perspective, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, contact DN
 Nicol, D (2013), Resituating feedback from the reactive to the proactive. In D. Boud and L.
Malloy (Eds) Effective Feedback in Higher and Professional Education: understanding it and
doing it well, Routledge UK
 Nicol, D (2011) Developing students’ ability to construct feedback, QAA Scotland, Enhancement
Themes. Available on Scottish Enhancement Themes website
 Nicol, D (2010) The foundation for graduate attributes: developing self-re
 gulation through self and peer assessment, QAA Scotland, Enhancement Themes. Available at:
Nicol, D (2010) From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback in mass higher
education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 35:5, 501-517
 Nicol, D and Draper, S (2010), A blueprint for transformational organisational change in HE:
REAP as a case study (see reap.ac.uk website)
 Nicol, D (2009), Transforming assessment and feedback: Enhancing integration and
empowerment in the first year, Published by Quality Assurance Agency, Scotland
 Nicol, D (2009), Assessment for learner self-regulation: Enhancing achievement in the first year
using learning technologies, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(3), 335-352
 Nicol, D (2007) E-assessment by design: using multiple-choice tests to good effect, Journal of
Further and Higher Education.31(1), 53-64..
 Nicol, D, J. & Macfarlane-Dick (2006), Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A
model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199218.
 See also www.reap.ac.uk for copies.
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