LEaD Light lunch, in the Learning and Teaching community, will have monthly themes. October's theme is assessment and feedback. There were two sessions: one on large group teaching and one on AI and assessment - including an overview of City's AI task and finish group.

The online LEaD Light Lunch in the digital Learning and Teaching community is in its third academic year, having started  back in lockdown in 2020. This year, we’re trying something new by introducing monthly themes to ensure consistency and hopefully involve more people, across the university, in sharing ideas.

The theme for October is “Assessment and Feedback.”

The first session featured Dr Clare Tyrer (Senior Lecturer in Academic Development, LEaD) and me, in a supporting role, discussing challenges related to large group teaching. We began by playing The Doors’ 70s hit, “Break on Through to the Other Side”, which would become relevant as we went along.

Clare began by arguing that learning should be viewed as a developmental process that unfolds over time, rather than as a product. This perspective, I think, is particularly relevant when rethinking assessment, especially in the context of AI that will be mentioned later on in this blog .

Emphasizing the importance of good planning, especially for large group sessions, to anticipate areas where students may encounter difficulties. Clare suggested strategies for gathering feedback during sessions to shape and guide learning, ensuring that students don’t accumulate too much “boot grit,” a new pedagogical term for many of us. While a bit of “grit” does not impede understanding, an excess can hinder learning.

Using the metaphor of passing through different doors, each representing a distinct stage of learning, Clare discussed ways to incorporate formative assessment techniques, including visual stimuli, provocative quotes, and polling tools, to engage students. Hinge activities (door metaphor again) serve as pivotal points for assessing students’ overall comprehension, enabling teachers to adapt quickly to the group’s learning needs.

During the session, we invited participants to engage in a collaborative text activity, sharing their thoughts on assessing learning in large groups. In the session’s closing part, participants further shared ideas on concluding a session effectively, such as directing students to next steps on Moodle to reinforce key concepts. Emphasis was placed on the importance of making connections and recognizing the complex, non-linear nature of learning. Our final metaphor was “leaving the door open” after a session ends, it’s important to ensure that students feel they can revisit aspects of the session through different forums and spaces (much like in the learning and teaching community’s various Teams channels).

The next LEaD Light Lunch focused on AI and assessment. Co-Chairs of City’s Generative AI Task and Finish Group, Dr Simon Hayley (Bayes) and Dr Julie Voce (Head of Digital Education, LEaD) provided an update on City’s work on the use of generative AI in education and reflected on City’s recent guidance on generative AI in relation to module design and assessment.

Julie introduced this LEaD Light Lunch with an overview of City University’s AI task and finish group, which consists of five different streams covering topics such as module design assessment, academic integrity, and data privacy.

Then Simon reflected on the evolution of AI in education. Many in education initially advocated for a complete ban on AI use, but now, educational bodies like the Russell Group endorse the idea that students should use AI, not only because it’s challenging to prevent them from doing so but because they will encounter these tools in their careers. The real challenge is ensuring that students use these tools critically.

With this in mind Simon went onto discuss alternative modes of assessments. One example is having students produce an AI-generated version of an essay and then critiquing and improving it. In his own subject, economics, Simon thought about getting students to work on a case study, prepare a presentation, and then, crucially, prepare for a spoken Q&A session.  Both these activities would help students develop informed and critical skills (it also aligns with the previous LEaD Light lunch session’s emphasis on learning as a process rather than a product).

Simon concluded by saying that he suspected lots of people are trying out experiments like this across the university and it would be fantastic to share ideas. Hopefully, this is something that we will hear more about in the Learning and teaching community in the future.

View this new series of videos from City experts discussing things such as how generative AI works and how AI output can be used with appropriate critical judgement

If you would like to share ideas or have any comments about potential themes for future LEaD Light lunch session in the learning and teaching community then let us know by filling out this form


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One thought on “Learning as process in an AI world.

  1. I was interested to read about the session on critical use of AI. This is something that we have talked about recently at Imperial College during two staff conferences. I could come and host a session on ‘humanising AI’ in the context of assessment, if this would be of interest to your lunch-and-learn colleagues. Let me know if this would be of interest – Jeffrey.

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