Assessment in Lifelong Learning

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					  Assessment in
Lifelong Learning
      Reflecting on Practise

           Dr Adam Longcroft
 School of Education & Lifelong Learning
              5 July 2007

Who are We and What do We
      Continuing Education: Our Mission

Continuing Education is committed to
assisting UEA in fulfilling its stated aim
of being ‘a good regional citizen’
dedicated to ‘enhancing the economic,
social and cultural life of the region’.

Our mission is to provide part-time
programmes which meet the personal
and professional development needs
of a diverse range of learners and

Though our role is primarily a regional
one, the growth of on-line programmes
enables us to increasingly engage with
learners on an international basis.
       Continuing Education: Our Region
   The Continuing Education programme
    at UEA provides higher education
    learning opportunities across Norfolk
    and Suffolk.
   Key centres for Continuing Education
    courses include Norwich, King’s Lynn,
    Ipswich, Lowestoft, Diss, Cromer,
    Fakenham and Thetford.
   Continuing Education is also
    committed to overcoming the
    obstacles to participation in higher
    education in a predominantly rural
    region by running courses in smaller
    rural communities such as Weeting,
    Reepham, Blakeney, Sedgeford and
Continuing Education: Our Programme

    The Continuing Education
    Programme includes a wide variety
    of courses and awards including:
   Day Schools (normally Saturdays)
   Short 5 & 10 credit ‘taster’ units
    (one term or less)
   20 credit units (normally two terms)
   Certificate in Continuing Education
    (either one or two years)
   Certificate of Higher Education (two
   Diploma of Higher Education (four
    years total)
   Diplomas (one year)
   Foundation Degree ‘Top-Ups’ (one       Most Units
    year)                                  are Open
BA (Hons) Professional Studies (120 credits, Level 3)
         Continuing Education: Subjects
The Continuing Education Programme also
covers a wide variety of subjects:
    History                 Creative Writing
    Archaeology             Philosophy
    Art History             Politics
    Architectural           Professional
         History                  Studies
    Medieval Studies        Film Studies
    Landscapes
         Studies             Cultural Studies
    Science                 Counselling Skills
    Literature              Music
    Classical Studies       Psychology
    Sports Development      Emergency Medical
    Continuing Education: Our Students
 Our student body spans a wide age range.
Our youngest student is 18, our oldest (in
2005) was 87.
 Educational backgrounds vary from those
with previous experience of higher education to
those with no formal qualifications of any sort.
Students come from a wide variety of
backgrounds from mid-career professionals to
those going back into education after a number
of years.
 They have varied motivations - career
change, professional development, progression
to HE, and/or pure pleasure.
 An increasing number of students receive
assistance with fees from their employers.
 Many are anxious about assessment; a small
minority are resistant/hostile to it.

    A Short Story
            The Move to Accreditation
   HEFCE Funding for Continuing Education courses changed
    dramatically in the early 1990s. A tradition of „liberal adult
    education‟ was superseded by a new regime of award-bearing
    and accredited programmes. By 1994/5 HEFCE funding was
    limited to accredited courses and units in which students
    undertook formal assessment.

   Continuing Education departments across the country needed
    to respond rapidly by developing an inclusive assessment
    strategy which was responsive to the needs of a diverse body
    of adult, mature learners and which also met HEFCE

   Most Continuing Education programmes span the Arts,
    Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences – coming up with an
    approach to assessment which accommodated diversity
    presented CE practitioners with an enormous challenge. Some
    succeeded, some did not…
           Engaging Adult Learners in
The assessment strategy adopted by Continuing
Education was driven by the following:
 A recognition that the change to accredited provision was
 A belief that assessment was a GOOD thing, not a threat, since (if
   done well) it would enhance student learning.
 An acknowledgement that survival was dependent on
   maximising „engagement‟ in the assessment process.
 An acceptance that Staff Development would be KEY to success.

 Respect for need for different requirements/strategies between
   disciplines – one size would not fit all.
 Recognition that assessment load per credit would need to be in
   keeping with expectations/norms in other Schools of Study.
           Engaging Adult Learners in
The assessment strategy adopted by Continuing
Education was driven by the following:
 A Concern that assessments should be seen to be „robust‟ and „fit
   for purpose‟ – in particular they should be VERY closely related to
   stated learning outcomes.
 A recognition that differences in „level‟ should be reflected in
   differences in assessment.
 An awareness that external examination would be a key element
   in ensuring parity with UG programmes and national standards. In
   CE, all level 1 units and courses are examined by a team of
   external examiners (in addition to all level 2 and 3 units/courses).
 A recognition that CE Staff and tutors would need to invest a
   considerable amount of effort into the creation of an inclusive
   assessment strategy and the design of individual assessments
   which would engage rather than intimidate/alienate students.
         Resistance to Assessment
Students on award-bearing courses are highly committed to
all aspects of their courses, including assessment.
However, a small proportion of students on open access
units are resistant to being ‘assessed’:

   The terrified learner: “I want to learn more about the subject
   but find the idea of being assessed quite frightening”.
   The passive learner: “I have paid my fee and don‟t see why I
   should have to do assessed work when I am just here to
   learn about the subject from the tutor”.
   The „been there, got the T-Shirt‟ learner: “I resent being forced
   to do essays – I gave up all that a long time ago”.
   The highly qualified learner: “I‟m a qualified doctor – I don‟t
   need credits since I already have a degree”.
   The „I‟m too old for this‟ learner: “I‟m 76 and really can‟t see
   the point of working towards credits at my age”.
     Back to Basics: The Purpose of
The purpose of assessment is to:
 help students get the most out of the course;
 help students develop their critical faculties;
 to develop key subject and transferable skills;
 ensure that real learning has taken place on an
  individual basis;
 enhance understanding of the subject in
 help tutors contribute to the student’s learning
  through a process of sympathetic and
  constructive criticism of the student’s work;
 build confidence;
  …… and also to
 facilitate the successful achievement of credits
  and the award of a Certificate/Diploma/Degree.
  A Learning Outcomes-led Approach to
The Continuing Education programme is characterised by a learning
outcomes-led approach. The Course Design Process:

                      Learning outcomes
                  Teaching & learning strategy
                     Assessment strategy
                     Key reading/websites
Diversifying Modes of Assessment
Diversifying Modes of Assessment
Diversifying Modes of Assessment
Diversifying Modes of Assessment
      Success is measured in Engagement
Academic Directors and their tutors have worked hard to develop a range of
assessments which successfully engage ALL learners, not just those of high
ability or prior/recent study experience.

The proportion of students who do undertake assessed coursework:
This is near 100% on award-bearing courses. On open access units 77% of all
students achieved credit in 2004/5, and 80% in 2005/6. Initial signs indicate
that the figure is approaching 90%.

In a recent survey of students carried out as part of a Periodic Review of the
CE Open Access programmes:
 84% felt undertaking assessments had added to their enjoyment of the
course and the learning experience.
 86% felt that it had enhanced their understanding of the subject.
 84% felt the assessments were well matched to the aims of the course.

Cont Ed‟s assessment strategy, driven by an ethos of inclusivity and
underpinned by a learning outcomes-led approach and a
diversification of assessment modes, HAS succeeded in engaging
students in the assessment process across programmes.
    Successful Assessment Strategies in a
         Lifelong Learning Context
Successful assessment strategies are those which:
 Respond to/accommodate students‟ interests – negotiation.
 Are innovative - imaginatively and carefully designed to enable
  students to demonstrate achievement of the stated learning outcomes.
  More care in DESIGN = Less PLAGIARISM.
 Build confidence in stages – the „in at the deep end‟ approach is rarely
  a wise or effective one.
 Respect the fact that students will have varied levels of prior
  knowledge, ability and confidence.
 Engage students by giving them opportunities to be creative (e.g. the
  Paxman interview scenario).
 Ensure students know where the „goals posts‟ are - clear objectives
  and parameters and appropriate written guidance.
 Provide students with opportunities to get to know each other (e.g.
  collaborative assignments).
 Include an element of class- or field-based assessment – almost
  impossible for students to „de-select‟ themselves!
 Include a significant „front-loaded‟ element. In terms of engaging
  students these are more effective than „back-loaded‟ modes.
  Assessment in
Lifelong Learning
      Reflecting on Practise

           Dr Adam Longcroft
 School of Education & Lifelong Learning
              5 July 2007
    Complete initial self-evaluation                            Utilise e mail and Blackboard (VLE)
                     skills checklist

 Demonstrate basic competency in                                Demonstrate effective critical reading and
     the use of a MS Windows XP                                 note-taking skills

           Manipulate and integrate                             Collate & manipulate basic statistical
  text/images using Microsoft Word                              information using Microsoft Excel.

                                         Essay-style Exercise
                                                                Effectively search the WWW for
Produce a well-designed essay plan                              information or downloadable materials,
   relating to a piece of coursework                            using Internet Explorer.
         required on another course
                                                                 Access and search online library
                                                                 catalogues and databases for
      Employ appropriate academic                                information relevant to their studies.
          referencing conventions
                                                                 Design a well-crafted electronic
                                                                 PowerPoint presentation, with a written
           Reflect critically on own                             supporting commentary which outlines
         coursework, strengths and                               how it might be delivered to an
                        weaknesses                               audience.

 Process Model: „Study
                                                                Duration: Normally 1 Term (3 Months)
 Skills for Higher Education-

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