Revisiting Graham Gibbs – Improving Student Learning Through Assessment and Feedback

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Learning@City 2013

In 2013 the Learning Development Centre invited Graham Gibbs to be the keynote speaker at our annual learning and teaching conference Learning@City. The theme of the conference was Assessment and Feedback and Graham Gibbs is an expert in that area, having carried out substantial research, much as part of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA) project.

Find out more about the TESTA project 

Recently I have revisited the recording of the keynote as part of  a project involving a small group of colleagues from the newly formed LEaD department. Our team brings together Learning Development, Educational Technology, Learning Success, Student Counselling and Mental Health Service and we are thinking about ways to encourage dialogue about learning enhancement across our areas of expertise.

Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD)

We are preparing an activity for our December away day, where we will introduce our proposal for a series of Teach – Ins to take place in 2015. These are whole or half day sessions and take the form of structured explorations of a relevant topic from both a personal and a professional perspective. It is hoped that this reflective and constructive approach will appeal to the team, as it builds on and shares  practice across our professional realms.

So back to Graham Gibbs, as part of our activity we will talk about development opportunities that have inspired us at a personal and professional level. For this I have chosen Graham Gibbs’ keynote at City in June 2013. I was relatively new to working in Higher Education and listening to Graham talk about his own experiences and the findings of his research really helped me build a picture of the sometimes conflicting forces acting on individual academics, programme teams and students in HE at the moment.

Grahams passion as an educator, combined with his analysis and promotion of what works and why has inspired me in my own work. I have a new role in our department, that of Project Lead in the Educational Technology Team and revisiting Graham’s inspiring keynote I  discovered again his recommendations about how to impact and improve student learning by working at programme level. This was good to hear again, as it is our project focus for this academic year, to orientate our efforts at programme level, through development work and engage with programme teams as they design their courses and assessments and support their work with students both face to face and online.

Supporting innovation in teaching and learning at module level is still attractive and essential, it involves working with inspired educators, passionate and creative people who will take  risks and try new methods. This will always have a place in our practice and we rely on this group especially in my area, technology enhanced learning as these – early adopters – can inspire change. However as Gibbs points out there can be a downside to only developing practice at this level and he gives examples where it has negatively affected student learning.

I can highly recommend the recording of the event to all involved in teaching, learning and assessment – but with a warning – it may lead to a decrease in time spent marking and higher student achievements!

Improving student learning through assessment and feedback in the new higher education landscape

The Educational Technology Team at City

The recently centralised Educational Technology Team, are a component part of LEaD and we work on a range of projects focused on curriculum design at a programme level, across a school or across the institution. To find out more about our approach and who we are and where we can be found – please have a look at these two blog posts.

Educational Technology Team – Themes and Projects

Introducing The Team and School Contacts

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