Monthly Archives: February 2011

LDC News February 2011

LDC News.

 Welcome to the February LDC blog. In the blog this month:

  • Update on the Learning and Teaching Showcase
  • Good Morning City  ‘Outnumbered: facilitating group assessments’.
  • An upcoming seminar on ‘Creating Effective, Interactive Handouts’
  • Last chance to register for the Learning, Teaching & Assessment Module
  • Dates for your diary


Teaching and Learning Showcase: Improving Teaching and Learning Quality throughout City

On the 26th January, over 100 City University staff visited the Teaching and Learning Showcase which was hosted by the Learning Development Centre. The event was opened by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Curran who praised the learning and teaching initiatives that were exhibited, before presenting successful Academic Practice students with their certificates.

Visitors to the Showcase were able to learn about more than 20 initiatives structured around ‘Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning at City’ including demonstrations of exciting new projects taking place in the various Schools using technologies such as Moodle, flip cameras, and the semantic web.

The new Learning at City Journal was also pre launched at the Showcase with visitors to  the stall being allowed an exclusive preview of what is to come in the special launch edition.  The journal itself will be launched by the LDC in the next month with staff being notified via the LDC blog and website.

Much interest was shown in the iTunesU exhibit as this was the first opportunity for staff to see the new City University iTunesU website.  The website has yet to be published to the web, but staff were able to preview the wide range of videos that have already been posted to the site.

Overall the event was praised by participants as “an excellent evening” and “encouraging innovation amongst staff”, and many staff left the evening with new ideas for their own teaching practice. The Showcase was closed by Professor Susannah Quinsee, Director of Learning Development who thanked everyone for their support and participation in this annual event.


Good Morning City

‘Outnumbered: facilitating group assessments’.

Olivia Fox and Annemarie Cancienne led on facilitating group assessments, and this is a brief overview of how to involve them in your practice:

Engaging students in group-work offers great potential in terms of improving student performance, supporting the development of transferable skills and engaging students in complex real-life tasks.  The Good Morning City Outnumbered workshop surfaced the pitfalls associated with group assessment in order to realise the associated learning benefits of group-work.

Key challenges

A key challenge is in designing an appropriate assessment strategy.

  • Who do you assess – the individual or the group? Gibbs (2009) in The assessment of group work: lessons from the literature summarises from the literature that:

“Allocating a single group mark to all members of a group rarely leads to appropriate student learning behaviour, frequently leads to freeloading, and so the potential learning benefits of group-work are likely to be lost, and in addition students may, quite reasonably, perceive their marks as unfair.” (p.4)

  • What do you assess – the product, the process or both? If one of the purposes of the assessment is for students to develop team working and organisational skills you would look at awarding marks for the process as well as the product, but what impact will this have on the students’ assessment load?
  • Who is the assessor – lecturer, student or a mix of lecturer, peer and self-assessment?

The Assessing Learning in Australian Universities website provides four tables considering advantages and disadvantages to different approaches when designing an appropriate assessment strategy.

One of the great benefits of group work is that it can enable more complex, real-life assessments. It is therefore important to ensure that your group work tasks require interdependence and allow for a division of labour. (Gross David, 2009). Carroll (2009) also advises “[m]aking all students equally unsure via ‘fuzzy’ tasks (with clear task briefs) or unusual contexts such as finding a solution that would work in Antarctica so everyone starts with an unfamiliar context.” It is also important to ensure that the group-work objectives and assessment and marking criteria are clear and transparent and are aligned to the module outcomes.

You might also need to consider the need to enable students to develop the skills to undertake group work as part of your curriculum. The making group-work work video resource might be a useful way to get your UG students to start reflecting on the skills required to work as part of a group and to identify strategies to overcome the challenges involved in working as part of a group helping them to arrive at some group groundrules.

Other points to consider are:

It is worthwhile to consider how you will allocate your groups. Gibbs (2009) points to a decrease in motivation and effort if groups are too large and Carroll (2009) advises on groups being composed of 5-7 students. Gibbs (2009, p.4) also suggests that you consider the ability of your students when assigning the groups as this can have a bearing on the grades received. “High ability students gain higher grades when in ‘streamed’ groups of similarly high ability students than when they are in mixed ability groups. The reverse is the case for low ability students: they benefit from working in mixed ability groups and suffer from being in streamed low ability groups.”

The next Good Morning City event is on creating good, interactive handouts, and will be on the 23rd February.

The next ‘Good Morning City’ Seminar

The Bold and the Beautiful: Creating Effective, Interactive Handouts

To many, perhaps to most, the handout is regarded as no more than a few sheets of paper distributed to students at the end of a lecture. But in this seminar, Patrick Baughan and Steve McCombe lift the lid on how a handout can achieve rather more than these humble and rather staid purposes.

We will show how the handout forms a significant part of the teaching and learning process that can make a real difference to student learning. We’ll offer ideas on making the handout dynamic and learner centred. And, significantly, we’ll consider how the handout can be understood as a learning object, which can be developed in conjunction with a range of technologies, such as Adobe Presenter and Moodle, as well as through the use of video. In addition, there will be some time set aside for your questions and to discuss any issues related to the theme.

All colleagues at City are warmly invited to attend this session, which takes place between 8.30am-9.30am, on Wednesday 23 February, in Room E201 (The MILL). All those attending will  – of course – be provided with their own effective, interactive handout, based around the session theme. If you would like to join us, please email Similarly, if you have any perspectives or ideas that you would like Steve or Patrick to be aware of before the seminar, please email using the above address. We hope to see plenty of you there.


Learning, Teaching & Assessment Module Registrations

The introductory module on the LDC’s Academic Practice Programme is due to run for the second time this year, starting next month, and places are going fast.

16th & 17th March and 4th & 5th May 2011

 This module provides you with an overview of how students learn and the impact this might have on your teaching approaches. It will also introduce you to a range of teaching approaches both face to face and on line. The area of assessment will be introduced and specifically good practice for giving feedback. The module also provides information about promoting good academic practice and reflecting on your personal practice. The assessment of this is an essay that enables you to focus on a challenge in your practice related to learning, teaching or assessing and includes a self assessment.

If you complete the module and its assessment successfully you can be awarded the Introductory Certificate in Higher Education or continue with further modules in the MA programme to gain a further qualification, (Post Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters). The programme has also been approved by the Higher Education Academy and the Nursing and Midwifery Council

To register please contact the Programme Administrator(

This module is run by the Learning Development Centre (LDC) as part of its MA in Academic Practice and PhD programme. For further enquiries place contact Dr Andrew Oliver (


Dates for your diary

Up and coming dates to note for LDC events are as follows:

Good Morning City: The Bold and the Beautiful — Creating good, interactive handouts — 23rd February

Good Morning City: Birds of a Feather — How to use Twitter to enable learning — 23rd March

Researchers’ Development Day5th April 2011, please note the change of date.