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Feedback and Digital Signatures: Seeking to improve NSS Scores in Assessment and Feedback utilising Technological Solutions -- 297 -- Short (oral) Paper

10:50 - 11:50 on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 in 4.206

In 2008 the HEA published ‘Exploring the National Student Survey’ (Williams & Kane, 2008) indicating that students have demonstrated concern about issues relating to assessment and feedback since the late 1980s, an issue that continues to be of concern to institutions, particularly with the introduction of higher student fees. From 2009-2012 the HEA has funded TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment), which has collected data from over 22 degree programmes in 8 universities in relation to both staff and student experiences of assessment and feedback. The research from this project identified many common and distinctive disciplinary challenges facing students and their teachers, notably quantity of effort, quality and quantity of feedback, usefulness of feedback and appropriate assessment.

FASTECH (Feedback and Assessment for Students with Technology) is a new JISC-funded project building on new body of knowledge, and pre-existing community of practice, seeking to undertake institutional change working from a programmatic level, involving 15 core programmes initially. TESTA has demonstrated that improving practices within particular degree programmes enables us to work with the grain of teachers’ subject interests, disciplinary emphases, and departmental loyalties, and to address the full course experiences of students. FASTECH picks up on particular concerns and seeks to identify standard technologies that have already been piloted in educational situations to address the problems identified in TESTA. Many of the key principles of the research and development processes that underpin the FASTECH project have been developed through the work on assessment and feedback undertaken by Professor Graham Gibbs, who works as an external advisor on the projects.

A year into the project, the paper will identify some of the processes and digital practices that are allowing Bath Spa University and the University of Winchester to work fully together, including the ongoing sharing of both knowledge and personnel, which has led to positive engagement with those in our respective communities. The paper will present a number of evidence based pedagogical issues related to feedback and assessment, identify a selection of technological tools already evaluated in pilots, and the early gains that are already presenting, including increased student enthusiasm, engagement and effort, combined with time and ‘green’ savings.

With an interest in constructing real change not only within the institutions involved, but across the entire Higher Education sector, the team is already identifying how best to disseminate the processes and findings, and is keen to encourage interaction and engagement with the HE community as a whole, through a website in development, offering key resources, and developing a template for case studies.

TESTA has already has already had over twenty universities within and outside the UK undertaking further research and development, and FASTECH is expected to be of similar concern to conference participants.