Welcome to the June issue of Teaching Matters!

June welcome

Teaching Matters is the University of Edinburgh’s website for debate about learning and teaching, for sharing ideas and approaches to teaching, and for showcasing our successes, including academic colleagues who are leading the way in delivering brilliant teaching.

Every month we take a theme and explore it through a video highlighting one of our outstanding teachers, a Focus on a School, and a number of blog contributions over the month. We also add news items as they come in and run an events listing page.

The theme for this month is Assessment and Feedback. It is fair to say that Assessment and Feedback is a hot (and often controversial!) topic. The challenge is to create a good quality assessment and feedback environment that is sustainable – simple right?

Repositioning Assessment and feedback

Emma Medland has recently stated that ‘There is … considerable consensus that the higher education assessment system currently in place is unfit for purpose.’ And calls for assessment to be considered right from the start of curriculum design rather than as ‘an appendage or afterthought’. This can be conceptually difficult when often we inherit course structures and processes which can seem impossible to break down or indeed, due to busy schedules we may become comfortable with small year on year ‘tweaks’ rather than fundamental course and programme overhaul. I would encourage as much ‘out of the box’ thinking on this as possible – IAD, Information Services and I are all here to help.

Peer Assessment and supporting Assessment literacy – a quick ‘win’

It has been recognised for some time that giving students opportunities to engage with authentic examples of other students work and gain experience as ‘assessors’ themselves is an important part of course design. D. Royce Sadler, a well-known name in assessment and feedback said (nearly 30 years ago…): ‘Instructional systems which do not make explicit provision for the acquisition of evaluative expertise are deficient….’. We have a growing array of online tools which can facilitate peer review, feedback and more; it’s a great time to be innovative, give it a try!

This month’s Teaching Matters will feature innovative assessment and feedback practices going on currently around the University, including:

  • Automated assessment and feedback
  • Rethinking multiple choice questions
  • Giving Verbal feedback
  • Grade Point Average – a reflection
  • Some insights from research in assessment and feedback

Want to Chat More?

Then please do come to our next Directors of Teaching Network event focussing on assessment and feedback. It’s on Friday 24th Jun 12-2pm. Although grandly badged, we welcome anyone with an interest in assessment and feedback; you might be a Director of Teaching of the future! Please sign up on MyEd; we’d love to see you there and would value your input.

I hope that you enjoy this edition of Teaching Matters and encourage you to get involved. Let us have your news, let us know when you are organising events on learning and teaching we can publicise, and send in your own blogs and comments.

Susan Rhind

Professor Susan Rhind is Chair of Veterinary Education and Assistant Principal Assessment and Feedback. She has strategic leadership for assessment and feedback developments across the University and works with staff and students to develop strategies and policies to support academics in developing and delivering quality feedback.

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