Dr Karen King , Institute of Agri-food and Land Use and Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Biosciences. School of Biological Sciences My background in work placement Involved in optional placement for over 20 years. Chaired University Work Related Learning Academic Group. In 2006 devised compulsory work placement modules for summer (16 weeks) and year long placements. Academic placement modules common for 3 different new undergraduate degree programmes – Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition, Land Use and Environmental Management and Agricultural Technology. Available as option in Biological Science degrees from 0809. Modules successful as evidenced by student and placement host comment. Academic assessment of work placement – made easy? 1. Why is assessment of work placement difficult? 2. How these difficulties can be overcome 3. Teaching, learning and assessment 4. Learning outcomes 5. Examples of assessment 1. Why is assessment of work placement difficult? What are the key aspects or differences about work placement which make it more difficult to assess than other taught modules? In groups consider why assessment of work placement is difficult. 1. Why is assessment of work placement difficult? Variation in work placement undertaken by students. No control over the learning environment. Remote learning (away from the university). Link to degree studies. Students are carrying out different activities and therefore learning different things. How can learning outcomes and hence assessment be defined which will suit all students on work placement? 2. How these difficulties can be overcome. A work placement approval process: the work placement must be assessed to ensure that the student will be able to attain the learning outcomes. Variation in work placement: not a difficulty, it is a necessity to ensure all students can attain placement. Remote learning: not a difficulty if guided by use of, for example, log books and work based learning elements. Link to degree studies: Specific aspect of assessment. The learning required by the students is defined by Learning outcomes. 3. Teaching, learning and assessment Normal module – i. learning outcomes defined, ii. teaching based on the learning outcomes and iii. assessment used to test student achievement of the learning outcomes. Can we apply this to work placement? 4. Learning outcomes What might be the learning outcomes from work placement? i.e. What do we want the students to learn from doing work placement? In groups consider what the learning outcomes could be for work placement. 4. Learning outcomes In order to define learning outcomes from work placement they need to be defined at a broad level. i.e. At the end of the module students will: have increased their ability to relate academic theory to the work environment: have developed identified work related skills: be able to critically evaluate their learning from the placement: have enhanced their career knowledge. have planned, carried out, evaluated and reported on a project. 4. Learning outcomes These learning outcomes cover all aspects of work placement and can be weighted in assessment or omitted depending on the specific requirements for the placement. i.e. Project may be omitted for a short, non-project based work placement. Skill development, especially subject specific, may be weighted highly for example in clinical placements. 5. Examples of assessment Once learning outcomes are defined, assessment is easier to devise. Most placement assessment comprises : A log book completed whilst on placement and a final summative report. May include placement host/tutor assessment. And is based on skills attained whilst on placement. 5. Examples of assessment Need to devise assessment which assesses student achievement of learning outcomes: At the end of the module students will: have increased their ability to relate academic theory to the work environment: have developed identified work related skills, be able to critically evaluate their learning from the placement, have enhanced their career knowledge, have planned, carried out, evaluated and reported on a project. Based on reflection by the student of their own learning. 5. Examples of assessment Normally, we devise assessments which specifically test achievement of learning outcomes by the students. As we have controlled the learning environment, we know what they should have learnt and can set assessments accordingly. In work placement we have much less control of student learning and therefore the student has to be given the responsibility to show in the assessments that they have met the learning outcomes through the learning activities they have undertaken whilst on work placement. i.e. through reflection. 5. Examples of assessment The assessment must be reflective and students must be given practice at reflecting prior to their final portfolio/report. Pre placement submission – practice at reflection, prepares the student for learning from the placement. On placement - Log book – activities and learning from these activities. Work based learning elements – encourages the student to learn about aspects of their placement host outside their ‘job’. Placement host assessment – based on job description and employability skills. Post placement - Final portfolio/report – demonstration of achievement of learning outcomes by reflecting on learning from work placement evidenced from previous work. Presentation - provides students opportunity to express orally how they have achieved the learning outcomes. 5. Examples of assessment Comparison to taught module: Pre placement - submission = coursework On placement - Log book = lecture notes Work based learning elements = coursework Post placement - Final portfolio/report and presentation = final summative assessment 5. Examples of assessment – Pre placement Submission: CV and covering letters. Reflection on each application – template. Forward analysis of skills to be gained whilst on placement – template relating to: i. Knowledge and understanding (relating academic knowledge to their placement) ii. Cognitive skills iii. Subject specific skills iv. Transferable skills (ii to iv development of work related skills, based on Programme Specification) Student comment on skills analysis ‘This was where we had to think about the placement and what we wanted to learn and then write about the skills that we thought would be used. I found this a very useful task but again quite difficult as I was not completely sure what my placement would involve. It was a very useful task to carry out as it really made me think about what I would be doing and how I could use my academic knowledge and experience whilst on placement. It also helped to set out what I wanted to learn and what skills could be achieved from different aspects of the job, which could be useful in a future career. However, looking back on the pre-placement skills form I found that it was very sparsely completed as I did not have the experience and knowledge which I now possess and this helped to show me that I had learnt a lot whilst on placement even though at certain times throughout it I felt like I was not learning very much. This part of the process taught me a great deal about evaluating what I can achieve without the complete information before hand, which is a skill I can take with me for the future.’ 5. Examples of assessment – on placement Log book – Based on i. activities and ii. what the student has learnt from the activities . ii. is the most important – what the student has learnt. Work based learning elements – Reports based on an aspect of the placement host not related to the student’s ‘job’. Student comment on the log book ‘In order to recognise all of these skills that were developed or acquired I had to be able to critically evaluate what I had learnt whilst I was on placement. I was able to do this through the weekly logbook, which allowed me to write about what I had done during that week and then pick out areas that I could relate to my academic theory or skills that I had used or even acquired. It also allowed me to have a critical view of how well I was achieving my learning outcomes and helped me to try and find something better and more worthwhile in the next week.’ Student comment on WBL elements ‘I also found that the work based learning elements contributed to my enhanced career knowledge. I chose topics that were not known to me and I had to learn a lot before I could write my essay, my first essay was on the management structure of XXXXXXXX. It has helped me to understand a great deal more about business and the qualities of a good manager who can really drive a business and employees to make a business very successful. Since doing the research for this essay I also realised that I have a great interest in business. It has opened up a new area to me that I did not previously think about and it made me take a wider view of the company as a whole. Through my learning elements I learnt a great deal about myself, and possible attributes I would like in a future career.’ 5. Examples of assessment – post placement Final portfolio/report Students are required to show how they have met the learning outcomes based on the learning gained from the activities carried out on placement. The assessment weighting given to each learning outcome can be adjusted for a particular subject. i.e. Skill development may be of greater significance in some subject areas. 5. Examples of assessment Pre placement submission = 20% CV and covering letter 20% Application reflection 40% Forward skills analysis 40% Final portfolio = 60% Report 60% Log book 10% WBL elements 20% Placement host assessment 10% Presentation = 20% Academic assessment of work placement – made easy by: Defining clear learning outcomes. Operating a placement approval process which ensures students can achieve the learning outcomes. Being based on student learning from the activities carried out on placement rather than the activities themselves. Devising assessment to measure student achievement of learning outcomes, using the same principles as taught modules. Student comment ‘I also believe the whole process has prepared me for life after university, I am now equipped with the necessary skills to construct a well presented CV, apply for jobs and portray myself effectively in interviews. The most important lesson I learnt is that organisation is key to success and I feel that if I get organised and prepare correctly I feel I can obtain my dream job. I believe that I have developed greatly over the last year, and I don’t think I would have developed to the same extent if I had not done placement.’ Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition student Student comment ‘After completing my work placement I have really changed my attitudes and views and almost feel like I have matured throughout the process. I have picked up and enhanced so many new skills and feel for once that I know that what I am doing is right for my future career. The placement has been an experience as I have done so many things that have been a success but I have also learnt from my mistakes and learnt how to evaluate the work that I am carrying out. All of the attributes I have gained from placement will help me in the future and in most aspects of my life.’ Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition student Work placement An on-line support package for academic staff considering setting up work placement should be available from July 2009 on the Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Biosciences website. The site includes information on all aspects to be considered and template forms. Development of this resources is supported by TQEF. Anyone who would like to act as a ‘pilot’ assessor of the resource should contact Dr King.