The Use of Exemplars in Practice
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Exemplars represent a growing area of pedagogic interest. Exemplars have been described as specific examples of assessment presented to students as being typical of various levels of achievement mapped against the assessment criteria. They provide an important tool to assist students in clarifying expected standards of assessment and assist with pedagogic feed-forward mechanisms and student engagement. A moderate amount of research papers exist in this area with a focus on how students perceive them in terms of clarification of assessment criteria, how they engage with them in dialogue with other students and teachers and how they might affect performance. They are believed to enhance skills in evaluative judgement and bring forward the time of feedback mechanisms so that students might more readily act to achieve desired change.
Martin Anderson is senior lecturer in food science and management at Harper Adams University. He also acts as a senior tutor for Chinese students studying food courses at Harper. His interest in exemplars come from undertaking an action research project using exemplars in 2016, as part of a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning. Martin subsequently became an active member of the University’s community of practice on exemplars and continued to study their use through a longitudinal study into how students use exemplars, which was accepted as part of a Masters by Research award in 2019. Martin is currently working towards his Doctorate with a working title of “Education, training and skills in the red meat industry”.
Helen Pittson is a senior lecturer in human nutrition at Harper Adams University. She is also the senior tutor for the food department suit of courses at the university. Helen began teaching just over 3 years ago and was an exemplar sceptic. When undertaking her own postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning she realised the benefit of exemplars for students and quickly adopted them into her own teaching practice. She is now a committed convert! She has conducted an action research project on students feelings towards exam exemplars using a ‘pain’ scale and student reflections. Helen helps to organise the University’s community of practice for exemplars and has presented how this group evolved at the Assessment in Higher Education Conference.