From Wimbledon to the Euros, from graduations to the Sewing Bee, the start of summer heralds the celebration of some wonderful examples of human endurance, creativity, athleticism and imagination. Whilst we recognise and applaud these inspirational examples of individual and collaborative efforts, we thought it was also time to reflect on and celebrate all of our small wins over the last year. From surviving whole days of online meetings to remembering it was #tweetchat day – let’s pat ourselves on the back and celebrate everyone’s successes: our colleagues, our students and our own.
“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes”
Bring your gifs, emoji, bitmoji to congratulate your colleagues on all their wins – big and small, before we float down the lazy river into summer with a nice slow-paced tweetchat to end this academic year.
“The Principles for Responsible Management Education have the capacity to take the case for universal values and business into classrooms on every continent.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
This week’s hosts
This week we welcome an #LTHEchat takeover by three members of the Principles for Responsible Management Education UK and Ireland Regional Chapter @PRME_UKI who share a common interest in promoting responsible management education.
Dr Claire May@DrClaireMay is the Co-Chair of the PRME Chapter UK and Ireland 2021 conference “Crises and the Re-Thinking of Responsibility” hosted by the University of Lincoln 5-7th July 2021. She is an Associate Professor in marketing, specialising in sustainability and is the College lead for PRME.
Ardley, B. and May, C. (2020). Ethical marketer and sustainability: Facing the challenges of overconsumption and the market, Strategic Change29(6):617-624
The United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) were developed in 2007 to provide a global point of reference for all those committed to the nurturing of ethical, responsible and sustainable mindsets in university students and graduates. Some 900 signatories form a worldwide movement supported by a global Secretariat in New York. While the home of PRME is in business schools worldwide, many of its members pursue these commitments into other faculties, programmes and curricula.
Regional PRME Chapters, such as the UK and Ireland Chapter, help to advance the Six Principles (see below) within a particular geographic context, rooting PRME in different national, regional, cultural, and linguistic landscapes. They function as platforms for localized engagement from higher education institutions, and in cooperation with Global Compact Local Networks, develop projects and initiatives that support the Sustainable Development Goals regionally.
PRME recently held its annual Global Forum, an online sharing of insights and good practices drawing in over 2000 educators from all continents. Ahead of PRME’s UK and Ireland Annual conference on 6 and 7 July, this week’s #LTHEchat seeks to draw into conversation all those engaged in education and research linked to help frame a set of debates that will be pursued at our conference, to be hosted online by the University of Lincoln.
This year’s conference theme, ‘Crises & the Re-thinking of Responsibility’, is an acknowledgement of PRME’s ongoing role in the shaping of debates and practices and in inspiring universities to continuously re-think their purpose and practice. The declarations of a ‘Climate Emergency’, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the racial inequalities highlighted in 2020-2021 give rise to opportunities for reflection on the consequences of business as usual, the role and response of universities and the construction of the future. We aim to facilitate questioning and critique, reflecting on the purpose of education as well as practical applications of this in terms of advancing our pedagogy and creating effective research and collaborative partnerships.
The questions we shall address in #LTHEchat 210 are linked to our three conference themes.
Theme 1: Advancing pedagogy; challenges and opportunities
Under this theme we particularly recognise that as responsible educators critically engaging with the UN SDGs we may need to move beyond the boundaries of our subject.
Theme 2: Partnerships with purpose; breaking boundaries
This theme recognises the importance of effective partnerships within the university sector and with organisations, social movements etc. outside the sector in order to realise the UN SDGs.
Theme 3: Creating a vision of socially and environmentally responsible education
Here we hope to draw out some of the more challenging questions regarding rethinking and purpose in this time of crisis. What does it mean to educate responsibly in the context of social and environmental challenges such as: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution; decolonisation of the curriculum; continuing racial and other inequalities; and the accelerated use of artificial intelligence (AI)?
If you would like to attend our Lincoln conference on 6 and 7 July, you can find more information here: http://prmeuki2021.org.uk/The deadline for registration is 2nd July.
Principle 1 Purpose: We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.
Principle 2 Values: We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organisational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.
Principle 3 Method: We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.
Principle 4 Research: We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.
Principle 5 Partnership: We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.
Principle 6 Dialogue: We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.
International Journal of Management Education – Special Issue on PRME (2020)
Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Glasgow. She is an expert in applying findings from Cognitive Psychology to education and an enthusiastic science communicator. She obtained her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Mannheim and pursued postdoc positions at York University in Toronto and the Center for Integrative Research in Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) at Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining the University of Glasgow, she was a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Dundee. Her expertise focuses on learning and memory phenomena that allow implementation to educational settings to offer teachers and students a wide range of strategies that promote long-term retention. Carolina is convinced that psychological research should serve the public and, to that end, engages heavily in scholarly outreach and science communication. She is a member of the Learning Scientists and founded the Teaching Innovation & Learning Enhancement (TILE) network. The TILE Network brings different disciplines and sectors together to discuss how to overcome prevailing issues in education with research-based approaches. Carolina is frequently invited to give CPD workshops and keynotes on learning and teaching worldwide. Carolina was awarded Senior Fellow of HEA. She is passionate about teaching and aims at providing her students with the best learning experience possible. In her free time, Carolina enjoys going on family trips to explore the beauty of Scotland, listening to her vinyl records, reading books, or watching movies and series. You can follow her work via Twitter: @pimpmymemory..
This week welcomes the Learning Science Tweetchat community (#LrnSciChat)to the Learning & Teaching Higher Education Tweetchat community (@LTHEchat) for an exploration of Implementing the Science of Learning in Higher Education. This mash up will provide fertile ground for fruitful discussion and we hope to support the productive mingling of these two exciting communities. Please explore the Learning Science Site (Teaching Innovation & Learning) in preparation for a lively evening. (note: the questions will be hosted under the #LTHEchat site).
Q1 – What is the Science of Learning and why may it be important for Higher Education? Provide examples of the science of learning.
Q2 – One promising learning strategy is ‘spaced practice’. What is it and how can it be implemented in the classroom?
Q3 – Another effective learning strategy is ‘retrieval practice’. What is it and how can it be implemented in the classroom?
Q4 – How would you evaluate the effectiveness of your implementation of a new teaching activity in your classroom?
Q5 – What are potential hurdles when implementing the Science of Learning in Higher Education?
Q6 – Share/discuss resources that support the implementation of the Science of Learning in Higher Education?
Young and Lee (2020) suggest that higher education understands student voice as a ‘feedback loop’ that universities are constantly racing to close. Institutions are peppered with student voice initiatives, Mendes and Hammett (2020) suggest that student voice is both ubiquitous and orthodox in HE, but how many of them actually create meaningful dialogue and change?
Bourne and Winstone (2020) discuss the importance of ‘surfacing’ student voice in an authentic way. Whilst large scale, formalised surveys might be a sector wide expectation it is vital that as practitioners we find a way to value and legitimise authentic student voice. Why don’t we start by reconsidering the word “voice”? Dialogue seems to sit much more naturally and suggests a conversation rather than a monologue.
When strong and productive relationships are built with students, dialogue becomes concomitant. Ahmadi (2020) refers to students as “hidden treasures,” drawing on the work of Bovil et al (2016) to consider them as co-creators, designers and agents for change.
Join us for an LTHEchat with a difference. A group of Edge Hill University students will join the discussion to share the student perspective in real time.
What does student voice look like in your institution?
How do you engage students as partners? What has worked well and what hasn’t?
How does student feedback impact the ‘power dynamic?’
The sector faces increasing commercialisation and marketisation. How do we help students to be scholars rather than consumers?
How do we embrace the ‘loop’ and communicate thinking and actions in response to student feedback?
What would the perfect feedback system look like to you? Be as creative as you can with your answer.
This week’s Host: Sarah Wright
Sarah Wright is a Faculty Senior SOLSTICE Fellowship Lead. Her role has seen her develop projects on the use of social media and online teaching, as well as lecture engagement and seminar design. Sarah is an Apple Distinguished Educator, has written for the Times Educational Supplement, contributing on a range of educational issues and sat on the Board of Management for NAACE, the national association for educational technology. Last year, she co-chaired the National Conference for Social Media in Higher Education and is now proud to sit on the editorial board for the journal. Sarah is a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching where she also enjoys reviewing for ‘Impact’ journal. Sarah was shortlisted for the Guardian Excellence in Teaching award in 2019 and the Educate North award in the same category. She was proud to win the Student Led Staff Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching.
Dr Mohamed Saeudy (@DrSaeudy) is a senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance and Director of Research Centre for Contemporary Accounting, Finance and Economics (Res CAFE). His research area is sustainable accounting and finance. He helps design many postgraduate courses to develop accounting and finance tools to manage the contemporary challenges of sustainable development such as big data, data analytics, climate change, modern slavery, UN SDGs, human rights and ecological biodiversity. He develops social media tools e.g. blogs to explore how organisations could make business opportunities and profit from considering social and environmental activities. He also developed innovative academic courses on DBA, Green Accounting, Sustainable Finance and Financial Entrepreneurship. These courses covered many contemporary topics ranging from corporate governance to sustainable business strategies and policies. In addition, Dr Saeudy provides professional consultancies for many business organisations in the UK and overseas in the field of sustainable business solutions, entrepreneurial finance, green finance, risk management and virtual business innovation.
This session aims to consider how social media could be used to support academic practices during and beyond the Covid-19 conditions. It aims to explore some practical approaches to using Social Media in a satisfying and sustainable way. I am looking forward to exploring future opportunities for using social media beyond the Covid-19 conditions to support the student experience.
The power of using social media during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic
One of the most contemporary topics in the HE sector is to understand the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for people’s everyday lives. This pandemic created new normal realities for the decision-making of educators, students, customers, managers, shareholders, lenders, suppliers, and employees. A growing range of issues have a bearing on this new world, including human wellbeing, remote learning, value for education, online teaching and increased expectations on HE institutions with regard to student satisfaction, staff wellbeing, and creating effective online communications. In order to address these challenges, many universities are increasingly turning to offer short courses and online blended learning degrees. Often these degrees intend to help academics and students to get more involved with many social media platforms to build up effective online capabilities and conduct their institutional communications.
Challenges and opportunities
In response to the growing recognition that universities must respond to the Covid-19 conditions, a number of social media platforms have been used over the last year to guide and manage student learning at a different level. These include using social media platforms in teaching and learning and supporting student engagement. There are several benefits that could be achieved from using social media in teaching and learning such as exploring the leading edge and contemporary topics and enhancing digital pedagogy. However, there are also some challenges from the risks and toxic side of using social media. Furthermore, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) presented another valid level of challenges that should be considered to control social media communications.
Balakrishnan, V., 2016. Key determinants for intention to use social media for learning in higher education institutions. Universal Access in the Information Society, Volume 16, pp. 289-301.
Crawford, J. et al., 2020. COVID-19: 20 countries’ higher education intra-period digital pedagogy responses. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 3(1).
Manca, S., 2020. Snapping, pinning, liking, or texting: Investigating social media in higher education beyond Facebook. Internet and Higher Education, , Volume 44.
Niu, L., 2019. Using Facebook for academic purposes: Current literature and directions for future research. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 56(8), pp. 1384-1406.
Purvis, A. J., Rodger, H. M. & Beckingham, S., 2020. Experiences and perspectives of social media in learning and teaching in higher education. International Journal of Educational Research Open, Volume 1.
LTHEchat 207 Questions
What are the main social media platforms that could be used in teaching and learning in HE? And how do you use them?
What benefits can academics find in using social media in teaching and learning?
What are the main roles of using social media in supporting Education for Sustainable Development?
How can you integrate social media into your curriculum design and planning?
What are the main limitations and challenges of using social media in teaching and learning?
How could social media help us to further build up online capabilities and competencies during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Frederica Brooksworth@fbrooksworth founder ofFashion Scholar is an International Fashion Educator and Strategist and author of the forthcoming book Fashion Marketing in Emerging Economies due to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in Summer 2021.
With over a decade of experience lecturing at over 30 institutions including the London College of Fashion, Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design and Hult International Business School, Frederica has experience developing educational content and strategies for the Business of Fashion, FashMash and Style House Files.
Frederica holds a BA in Fashion Marketing, MA in Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education with a focus on EdTech, Knowledge and Skills Gap in addition to Innovating the African Fashion Education system.
#LTHEchat 206 asks Are we really going to decolonise the curriculum? If so, how and when?
With a proliferation of literature on decolonising the curriculum in Higher Education, it is a fundamental topic that must be addressed. Many universities have created ad-hoc initiatives equipping teaching staff with the tools and resources to implement change within their classrooms. However, it is clear to see that to date in the fashion education system it has not been effective as the topic of decolonising the curriculum is rarely covered. The fashion curriculum has a strong focus on European Fashion and does not reflect the Global Fashion Industry. As a result, this conversation aims to get a better viewpoint on the challenges, advantages and potential recommendations.
This topic is very important to me as a Black Woman who was once a fashion student and now teaches fashion, and sees how in a decade there have been no changes to the curriculum. Black culture has a huge influence on the fashion industry from clothing, to accessories, hair, lingo you name it; yet, we fail to include these references within the curriculum. Black fashion should not only be taught through a trip to a museum in the world costumes department, it should be embedded in the curriculum and taught in our institutions.
It is of paramount importance to draw attention to the verity that fashion education plays a pivotal role in the structure of the fashion landscape and is often perceived as the pathway into the industry. The fashion curriculum requires modification given that fashion has changed rapidly over the years and is continuously evolving due to the advancement of technology, macroeconomic trends and cultural influences, yet our institutions have failed to keep at the same velocity. At present, the fashion curriculum focuses predominantly on European fashion history and designers. This notion of European fashion as the mecca of the industry has infiltrated into the minds of generations. The fashion media itself is still not as diverse, with rarely any press coverage on Black fashion talent and it is these publications that are used in our classrooms to create mood boards, to write case studies and to learn about the contemporary fashion industry.
A great proportion of learning resources e.g. books, journal articles, trade publications are mainly written by European scholars. This poses a significant concern as this may influence one’s mind subconsciously believing that Black academics are not credible, intellectual or qualified to educate on the topic of fashion. According to a report by The Independent Black students are 50 % more likely to drop out of university than their Asian and White counterparts; expressing that contributing factors retaining Black students include a lack of connection to culture in the curriculum, making friends with students and academics due to beliefs, traditions and backgrounds. We must draw attention to the matter that not only is there a diversity issue as it attains to the curriculum, this also the case for academic staff. The Guardian reported that Black academics make up only 2% of those working within UK universities.
Dr Jonny Johnston (@JonnyJohnston) is based in Academic Practice at Trinity College Dublin, where he works closely with academics and programme teams across Trinity to support excellence in teaching and learning. Jonny is a module coordinator for Trinity’s Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice and his current research and teaching interests sit in assessment, curriculum development, and teaching enhancement. His favourite boardgames include Ticket to Ride and Scrabble, and he is an absolutely appalling chess player.
In a nutshell
Educational development (#EdDev)work, also called faculty development (#FacDev) or academic development (#AcDev), is often carried out at institutional boundaries (Gibbs, 2013). Boundaries between home and work physical and virtual campus infrastructure have become extremely porous for many of us in the last year.
Have the faultlines and border zones between different ‘regions’ of educational development activity been similarly affected by our mass crossing into virtual space?
#LTHEchat 205 asks you to articulate what educational development means to you: what does #EdDev work ‘look’ like, where does this work take place, and (why) does it matter? Colleagues with all sorts of roles related to teaching and learning are encouraged to join in this week’s chat and share ideas, practices, and (of course) share recommendations for biscuits for sustenance during marking season!
There was a cracking session on ‘treasure island’ pedagogies (see the Wakelet for #LTHEChat #203 ) a couple of weeks ago that really got me thinking about terminology in a way I haven’t for a while – particularly in relation to rich metaphors like islands of disciplinary practice, sending messages in bottles, and thinking back to how we’ve all had to find new ways to navigate the stormy seas of professional practice under Covid-19 and chart a course to the end of the academic year.
Of course, I’m using all this nautical terminology to invoke images of adventure, space, and exploration as we try and map out a pathway back to our lives amid all the disruption. These are terms are purposefully not neutral – maps and mapping metaphors always bring up questions of power, agency, and ownership of space. I crossed into educational development by way of postcolonial literary and cultural studies and I’m always intrigued by how words can be used to emphasise or elide power dynamics within everyday terminology.
This week’s questions use ‘educational development’ as the most neutral term I could find to encourage as open a dialogue as possible during the #LTHEChat. I’m not keen on the titles of academic or faculty developer (exclusionary – what about graduate teaching assistants, other staff, or my own professional development that happens through dialogue with others); learning developers are more likely to be student-facing than staff-facing (with their own areas of expertise); and academic colleagues involved in Communities of Practice & pan-institutional learning communities (Cherrington, Macaskill, Salmon, Boniface, Shep, & Flutey, 2018) can have enormous educational development impact on peers and students alongside their formal remit as educators.
#LTHEChat205 looks back at what educational development has meant to you over the last year and asks: what next?
Cherrington, S., Macaskill, A., Salmon, R., Boniface, S., Shep, S., Flutey, J. 2018. Developing a pan-university professional learning community. International Journal for Academic Development 23, 298–311. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2017.1399271
Hamilton, B. & Graniero, P.A. (2012) Disruptive cartography in academic development, International Journal for Academic Development, 17:3, 243-258. DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2012.700894
Gibbs, G. (2013). Reflections on the changing nature of educational development. International Journal for Academic Development 18:1, 4 – 14.
Laura and Rachelle are members of #creativeHE and share a common interest in creativity and innovation in learning, teaching and research. The #creativeHE team currently consists of 16 members, staff and students, in 13 different institutions and organisations in 3 countries. The #creativeHE team host various community driven events throughout the academic year culminating in an Annual Jam in around June time.
The #creativeHE community is open to anybody who is interested in exploring creativity in learning and teaching within and beyond the UK. Our values as a team, decided through online democratic dialogue, are creative, open, caring, collegial, collaborative, rebellious and trailblazing. If you would like to join us, you can participate in our activities which you will find on this website and join our FB community. We also use the hashtag #creativeHE on Twitter.
#LTHEchat 204 is hosted by Rachelle and Laura on behalf of the #creativeHE community. #creativeHE supports pedagogical rebels and free-thinking innovators in experimenting with, developing, sharing and getting support for novel learning and teaching ideas.
During this week’s #LTHEchat, we ask you to reflect on your experiences and to share your ideas in order to support creative practice centred around student engagement online. #creativeHE members have been telling us that they are finding new and innovative ways to creatively approach teaching and learning in the online environment, and we want to extend the conversation to the #LTHEchat community.
In this #LTHEchat, the term ‘student’ is used to refer to anybody with whom you interact. This may be undergraduate/postgraduate students, academic staff, other professionals you encounter. Essentially, ‘students’, to you, should mean whatever you want it to be. Feel free to be creative in your interpretation of who we mean by ‘students’.
Want to stay in the loop and find out about upcoming #creativeHE events and activities? Why not sign up for the #CreativeHE mailing list using this link
If you’d like to register for this year’s Annual #creativeHE Jam ‘Looking back on what worked and looking forward to next year’ on 18th June from 11-2pm please use this link
Want to revisit this fab #creativeHE takeover! Exploring creative approaches to student engagement online with @laurablundell @ RachelleeOBrien Enjoy the 600+ tweets shared by our wonderful community of contributors via the #LTHEchat 204 Wakelet
@tundeva, Dr Tünde Varga-Atkins, PhD, is a Senior Educational Developer at the Centre for Innovation in Education, University of Liverpool and Senior Fellow (HEA). Her specific areas of research encompass areas in curriculum design and evaluation, assessment and feedback, digital capabilities and organisational learning. Tünde has employed multimodal and creative methods in her research, such as working with drawings and diagrams for data elicitation, poems for data analysis, and combining existing methods, such as the nominal focus group to support curriculum evaluation. Tunde is the current North-West co-lead of ALT ELESIG, a special interest group sharing and building capacity about research and evaluation of learners’ experiences with technology. Tünde is an editor of Research in Learning Technology and associate editor of Developing Academic Practice journals.
During today’s 203rd #LTHEchat, we will mimic the format of Treasure Island Pedagogies podcast series by the Centre for Innovation in Education at the University of Liverpool, @LivUniCIE. We will ask you all share one of your (probably many!) lightbulb moments (when you felt your students were ‘getting it’), a teaching prop or pedagogy and one luxury item. You are also asked to barter with other educators in the #LTHEchat community.
Innovation and interdisciplinary dialogue
The main idea for the Treasure Island Pedagogies podcast series grew out of the first podcast on Remote Teaching (Part 1 and Part 2), when we discussed the most important aspects to keep and maintain for precious contact time with students and also what we could do in different ways. Acknowledging that educators also need to relax, soundtracks were shared. This led to the birth of the current podcast format, very much inspired by Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Treasure Island Pedagogies is an interdisciplinary discussion between educators from different subject backgrounds, institutional or cultural contexts, facilitated by Tünde Varga-Atkins. The reason for this is that evidence shows that innovation spreads at the intersection of disciplinary boundaries (Warren, 2011). Colleagues from the same background working together will share numerous pedagogical approaches and strategies. In a network of educators, they are represented as nodes with close ties. However, for the spread of information or innovation, it is the links between more distant nodes that can be effective, which is what Granovetter calls “the strength of weak ties” (1973). One aspiration of facilitating this podcast series is exactly this: to act as a “Connector” (Gladwell, 2000; Barabási, 2014) and create new network links between our guests which had not existed before, thereby facilitating innovation spread.
In this #LTHchat we will invite you to share your own Treasure Islands with fellow educators. We hope that this Tweetchat will be hugely rewarding and powerful, allowing us agency to conjure up Treasure Islands as our own educational utopias.
Fancy taking part in a future podcast and/or the Treasure Island Pedagogies Festival’21?
If you are interested in becoming a guest on Treasure Island Pedagogies podcast, please complete this expression of interest form. Taking part is a great opportunity to increase your educational impact and reach beyond your immediate field, as well as being a fun discussion. Both external and internal (University of Liverpool) guests are welcome and very much encouraged!
We are also planning an interdisciplinary Treasure Island Festival in November 2021. Please register your interest via the same form.
Dr. D. Theresa Nicholson is a Reader (Higher Education and Pedagogy) in the Department of Natural Sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is an AdvanceHE National Teaching Fellow (2020) and HEA Principal Fellow. Theresa is best known for her passionate advocacy of inclusive learning and teaching and for driving forward the HE agenda around equality, diversity and inclusion. Theresa has pioneered many curriculum innovations and her signature pedagogy is characterised by student-centred, active, authentic learning that builds-in flexible assessment, aligning learning with students’ aspirations, motivations and interests. Theresa has published on aspects of creativity and peer learning in assessment; student engagement and belonging; technology-enhanced learning; inclusive student partnership; and support for d/Deaf and disabled students. She is currently researching synergies between enquiry-based learning and global citizenship, and their potential for supporting diversity awareness and enhancing graduate outcomes. email@example.com
The role of flexible assessment
Increasing societal demand for graduates with authentic, career-relevant skills and knowledge requires that learners are placed at the centre of a more personalised Higher Education experience. While much has been written about flexibility in learning and teaching and flexible pedagogies (e.g. Ryan and Tilbury 2013), flexible assessment is often neglected. When assessment is regarded more as a means for learning (Keamy et al. 2007) and students are given opportunities for self-direction around assessment, the potential benefits are many. They include effective learning (Jackson 1997), deep learning (Gibbs 1992), motivation and engagement (Pacharn et al. 2013), creativity (Nicholson 2018), autonomy (Ryan and Deci 2000) and inclusion (Marriott and Lau 2008, Race 2001, Brown 2005).
What is flexible assessment?
At its most basic, flexible assessment can simply mean providing greater diversity in the methods, tasks and modes of delivery (Hyde et al. 2004). It may mean giving students some self-direction over the ‘mechanics’ of the assessment strategy – assignment weightings, workload, calculation of final grade, and timing, for instance (e.g. Pacharn et al. 2013, Rideout 2018, Marriott and Lau 2008, Cook 2001). But flexible assessment has the most positive impact on inclusion when there is student choice in the nature of assessment tasks, the format of work submitted, and the curriculum content. There are many approaches for integrating flexible assessment, but a strategy I use to good effect is the ‘portfolio of evidence’. In this, students compile evidence addressing a range of topics and presented in different formats, to demonstrate their achievement of the module learning outcomes. The portfolio is accompanied by an over-arching commentary on the evidence provided, setting it into the appropriate conceptual framework.
Challenges and concerns
Why isn’t flexible assessment employed more commonly? This is a reasonable question to pose. There may be constraints, perceived at least, around the capacity of administrative systems to handle flexibility. There are also valid concerns about equivalence and reliability in flexible assessment (Wood and Smith 1999), ensuring fairness and equity between students, implications for marking workload (Wanner and Palmer 2015), and the potential impact on power relationships between lecturers and students (Morgan and Bird 2007).
Nevertheless, the role of assessment is so great – in students’ motivation, study time, graduate outcomes, and curriculum design – that it must be engaging, relevant, authentic and intrinsically interesting. In this #LTHEChat it would be good to explore the benefits and challenges of flexible assessment, and in particular to consider its role in the delivery of an inclusive learner experience. It would be good if we could capture some effective examples of flexible assessment and identify solutions to any barriers to its use.
Brown, S. (2005). Assessment for learning. Learning And Teaching In Higher Education (1), 81-89.
Wanner, T. and Palmer, E. (2015). Personalising learning: Exploring student and teacher perceptions about flexible learning and assessment in a flipped university course. Computers and Education88, 54-369.