AAGLO (Assessing and Assuring Graduate Learning Outcomes) Workshop
AAGLO (Assessing and Assuring Graduate learning Outcomes)
With the formalisation of standards through the AQF and the launch of TEQSA, graduate outcomes have become increasingly important in higher education. The national Assessing and Assuring Graduate Outcomes (AAGLO) project funded by the OLT, and led by the University of Sydney, aims to address this.
The project team are gathering evidence of types of assessment tasks and practices that provide convincing evidence of achievement of graduate attributes, along with quality assurance processes that ensure all aspects of student assessment are robust and reliable.
Recently AAGLO hosted a series of capital city fora to present and discuss its investigations to date. Topics included:
- the international standards movement
- ALTC's Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project
- expressed concerns about proposed standardised testing
- key assessment tasks and how they operate to develop and assess graduate attributes
- quality assurance processes to support the design, implementation and evaluation of assessment
A highlight was the keynote presentation from Professor Trudy Banta, a pioneer of outcomes assessment in the US. She criticised standardised testing, common in the USA, as an invalid measure of students' generic skills, and argued that given the complexity of educational settings, standards should be demonstrated by a variety of performance measures. She stressed the need for academic staff to form assessment communities within their disciplines to develop shared understandings about standards and quality in assessment and participate in inter-university moderation in common final year subjects.
SCU staff who attended commented:
"The AAGLO Workshop was a valuable experience and I highly recommend the project and its associated resources to all staff engaged in teaching and learning. It raised many interesting ideas with regard to assessment and learning outcomes, as well as ways to integrate quality assurance processes and the promotion of quality improvement.� John Jenkins, Chair of Academic Board
�This was a really useful forum because it highlighted many of the quality issues raised through the TEQSA standards framework and foreshadowed by the Excellence in Assessment Project Report at SCU.� Chris Morgan, DTL
�It was great to hear from Trudy Banta, as her work is the foundation for the AACSB assurance of learning standards that we are currently implementing in the Business School. The six AAGLO summary papers were a sensational resource to be introduced to, and I thoroughly recommend them. Overall, I�m really pleased I went.� Owen Hogan, SCBS
The summary papers and more information on the work of AAGLO can be obtained from its website at www.itl.usyd.edu.au/projects/aaglo
Adjunct Professor Gilliam Hallam with project leader Dr Meg O'Reilly
The ePortfolio Project was launched with a full day workshop on 14 June, attended by over 30 Course Coordinators from SCU and other regional universities. Adjunct Professor Gillian Hallam (QUT), guest presenter and consultant, presented a summary of findings from the previous ALTC funded ePortfolio projects and guided participants in their initial planning.
Project leader, Dr Meg O�Reilly, said �We are thrilled to have Gillian Hallam involved in the project as she led both the national ePortfolio projects this work is extending. Her expertise in this area is well recognised throughout the sector and her experience will guide us in good practice and help us avoid the pitfalls others have encountered.�
The project, funded by a $30k Extension Grant from the OLT, is supporting a number of course coordinators from SASS and H&HS to undertake pedagogical planning for ePortfolios across their courses. Course Coordinators will work in small disciplinary groups, and liaise with some members external to SCU, to bring diverse input to their deliberations.
The disciplines participating already use paper based or informal electronic portfolios, whether for recording achievement of specific skills e.g. nursing, or storing artefacts e.g. creative arts. Moving to an ePortfolio will allow each student to store all artefacts and reflections in a single repository, creating custom views of that material for specific purposes. When embedded into a course through appropriate pedagogical design, students will be able to build a record of their disciplinary and generic achievements.
The other stream to the project is ensuring the appropriate systems and support structures are in place for staff and students to use ePortfolios. Meg and the project manager, Dr Kath Fisher, will be liaising with Technology Services to investigate the scope of the Blackboard ePortfolio tool and develop support documentation for ongoing rollout across the university after the project ends.
Further information can be obtained from email@example.com.
Excellence in Assessment: project report now available
The SCU Excellence in Assessment project investigated assessment practice at SCU, including issues of assessment volume, timing, standards, efficiency and effectiveness by benchmarking assessment practices in three programs with other like programs in the sector. This identified a number of strengths and weaknesses of existing assessment practice as a basis for consolidation or improvement.The project provides strategic and practical directions forward through five recommendations:
- A strategic, whole-of-course approach to assessment, ensuring graduate attributes are achieved, assessment across the course is diverse, and assessment load and student workload is balanced.
- A focus on clear, transparent criteria and standards, with rubrics to accompany all assessment tasks and consideration of external moderation of key assessment tasks (e.g. capstones)
- A focus on assessment quality, through updating and effectively enacting university policy
- A focus on professional learning and leadership, by extending the project activities to other courses, and providing leadership in assessment through clear lines of responsibility
- Future directions in assessment at SCU: ongoing monitoring of the three participating courses, embedding the processes with ongoing curriculum renewal projects, and refreshing the Assessment Policy.
Action on these recommendations will be a key to TEQSA standards implementation. The project was led by Professor Janet Taylor and Dr Chris Morgan, Division of Teaching and Learning. The full project report is recommended reading for those who participated in the project, School Directors of Teaching and Learning, Course Coordinators and those about to participate in a Course Review. It is available at: scu.edu.au/teachinglearning/index.php/16/
iPad Trial: project report now available
The iPad Trial investigated the use and efficacy of iPads to improve student learning experiences and staff work practices. The trial involved 50 students and 42 staff from across the university and aimed to:
- investigate the functions of mobile tablet devices that are used
- investigate the efficacy (uptake and perceptions of effectiveness) of using the mobile tablets
- investigate the components of unit design that are best advantaged by using mobile tablets
The trial found that iPads were viewed primarily as devices that complemented laptop or desktop computers. iPad use:
- improved flexible access to information and communication tools
- improved opportunities to connect to the internet, to access and share documents, make notes and to communicate
- integrated well into student and staff work practices
- increased available places and times for students and staff to work
- enabled different and new ways to organise work and study activities
- reduced need to print documents for staff and students
- led to improved productivity through more strategic use of available work and study time.
The report acknowledges the diverse ways that both staff and students use iPads for both teaching and learning. Recommendations included consideration of SCU's standard operating environment and how support is structured and provided for mobile technology use in teaching and learning, and administrative functions.
The iPad Trial was led by Des Stewart and Dr Di Newton, through the Office of the CIO. The full project report is recommended for all those who participated in the trial, iPad and tablet device users, and those interested in broader use of technology. It is available at: scu.edu.au/teachinglearning/index.php/17/
School Focus: School of Arts and Social Sciences
Dr Adele Wessell, Director of Teaching and Learning for SASS
Director of Teaching and Learning for the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Dr Adele Wessell, sums up teaching and learning in SASS in one word: diverse. With disciplines including visual arts, music, cultural studies, history, sociology, history, creative writing, politics, sociology and social welfare, many of which are offered by distance education and across the three campuses, a wide range of teaching approaches are required.
Adele said "In the past this diversity has limited opportunities for staff to benefit from sharing their skills and experiences, and from an administrative perspective, to share units across courses. However we recently stimulated intense and extensive discussion through a simultaneous review of all Courses and the School. Two topics identified as crucial were graduate attributes and employability. As we discussed how these could be addressed, shared capstone units based in community engagement, supported by ePortfolios used across the degree emerged as a solution.�
"Disciplines in the Arts and Social Sciences are often not vocationally focused, and participating in a community engaged capstone project can help students prepare themselves for applying for jobs or being self-employed after graduation. Capstone projects help students develop vocational skills such as communicating with stakeholders and working in a team. Furthermore, the community also benefits."Adele went on to say �Students in the School are already involved in a wide range of disciplinary community based projects, but with a shared, multi-disciplinary capstone the learning benefits are even greater as students practice working with colleagues from other areas to apply their disciplinary theoretical knowledge to plan, conduct and report on their project.�
Where ePortfolios come in is in providing a place for students to store artifacts and reflective writing about their experiences. There should be some action on ePortfolios this year as SCU has been successful in obtaining extension funding from OLT (see ePortfolio Project). "All the SASS Course Coordinators are participating in this project and will undertake planning of ePortfolio use across their courses."
So what are the next steps for teaching and learning in SASS? Adele said �We are committed to ongoing development of multi-disciplinary community engaged capstones as demonstrated by our recent advertisement of a curatorial position and a placement position. And we look forward to implementing ePortfolios systematically and effectively across all our courses.�