Video recordings of my interviews with Simon Kemp and Bella Millet are now on youtube.
The website for our Getting More Out of Feedback is coming along nicely. As part of the Sharing Practice in Assurance and Enhancing Quality (SPEAQ) project, this GMOOF project aims to join up the quality circles of the student, the teacher, and the quality manager. Rather than having separate websites for students, teachers and quality managers on giving and receiving feedback, we recognise that good feedback from teacher to students, students to teachers, teachers to teachers, students to students, teacher to professional body etc. etc. has the same characteristics.
Phil Race characterises good feedback as:
- Suggestions for improvement
Good feedback has these characteristics, irrespective of who is the provider of feedback and who is the recipient.
The website also contains a brief review of the literature on feedback in higher education.
As well as the xtranormal videos I mentioned in a previous post we have interviews with various members of staff, in preparation. My interview with my LLAS colleague Laurence Georgin is available on youtube and through the site.
Team effort on this one. We made the video for our Getting More out of Feedback Project. The script was adapted from my literature review by Laurence Georgin and Fiona Harvey. Fiona Harvey who works at the Centre for Innovation and Technologies, University of Southampton, produced the drawings. One of our University Digital champions edited the video and did the commentary.
The nanDECK website describes the software as “a software for Windows (any version) written as an aid for game inventors, with the aim of speeding up the process of designing and printing deck of cards (useful during prototyping and playtesting).”
Playing cards can of courses be created using a simple programme like word, but nanDECK offers a lot more. Although I’m not over-endowed in terms of artistic skills someone very skilled could make some nice cards.
I found nanDECK when looking for a way to create cards as a resource for the Getting the Most Out of Feedback project. Originally I wondered if I could use LaTeX, but nanDECK is a specialist piece of software.
Like LaTeX, nanDECK works programmatically. nanDECK involves writing your own code in a text file. I found the online instruction manual very helpful for getting started.
I used it to create a feedback card activity for GMOOF. The code can be found on that website and can be adapted under a Creative Commons license.
For the second year running I have opted to put my SEDA Fellowship report on my website (last year's here). Although I am currently working at the LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies at the University of Southampton, I will be joining the Centre for Learning and Teaching at the University of Brighton in September. I was offered the Brighton job back in May so I am very much in a transition frame of mind at present.
After ten years at the LLAS Centre (counting the centre in its LTSN/ HEA subject centre forms) I felt it was now time to move on and undertook a UK-wide job search. The end result was an offer from the Centre of Learning and Teaching at the University of Brighton. Last week I visited Brighton for the university’s internal teaching and learning conference and heard about a lot of the interesting things about some of the interesting things which are going on there. It was also nice to spend time getting to know some of my new colleagues as well.
Statistics for Humanities
This past year has been mostly project based. My Statistics for Humanities student ‘text-book’ is available in draft form and I am awaiting comments from the British Academy nominated reviewers. The British Academy agreed that I could put a draft online for a crowd sourced review. This has led to receiving many helpful comments, and one academic in particular has provided some very extensive feedback. I have long been dissatisfied with introductory statistics textbooks. I hope that mine will reach out to students (and academics) who struggled in the past. The examples in the book come from the humanities and I have attempted to write a book which uses a verbal reasoning-based approach which should resonate better with humanities students than some other texts.
EU Quality Assurance project
We are coming to the end of the second year of this 2-year EU-funded project, Sharing Practice in Assuring and Enhancing Quality (SPEAQ) which follows on from LANQUA (the Language Network for Quality Assurance). I didn’t work on LANQUA and hadn’t worked on an EU-project before. I was quite apprehensive about being involved in the project as I had seen colleagues undergoing the stresses of running a project which involves administrative complications (e.g. currency conversions and daily rates) as well as working alongside colleagues in other countries who work in very difference pedagogic, policy and quality environments. Fortunately our assistant director (and my line manager) Alison Dickens is an experienced director of EU–projects and our senior administrator Sue Nash has worked on them before, so, fortunately for me, I have been able to concentrate mostly on content issues.
In the first year of the project we developed a workshop in which staff, students and quality managers can participate together. I played a big role in this aspect of the project producing a dialogue sheet and writing facilitator instructions. Along with our Danish colleague Ole Helmersen from Copenhagen Business School I attended the EQAF Forum in Tallinn, Estonia where we tried out the workshop on a large group of quality professionals from a range of European countries.
As well as running the workshop the EQAF conference was a great staff development opportunity for me. As a QE person rather than QA person it was interesting the meet people who operate in very different QA systems. The UK seems to be fairly in the middle between those countries in which QA is very highly centralised and regulated through to countries where QA is virtually non-existent—at least in the way that I understand it. If there is one thing that all countries seem to have in common it is that QA appears very different from teaching. As one person I met pointed out, a poor teacher is not a quality issue as far as most university structures are concerned. Even at the Senior Manager level there is often a separation of roles between the person in which of QA and the person who in charge of teaching and the curriculum.
For the second part of the project each partner does their own small-scale project which meets a particular institutional need. At Southampton we decided to do a project on feedback, called "Getting the Most Out of Feedback" (GMOOF). The core principle of GMOOF is that everybody, whether a member of teaching staff, a student or a quality manager, is both a provided and recipient of feedback. The principles of good feedback: Relevant, Timely, Meaningful and with Suggestions for improvement (See Race online), apply to all feedback, not just feedback from teacher to student but also student to teacher, student to student, teacher to teacher etc., teacher to quality manager, teacher to professional body etc. etc. GMOOF is a website which focuses on giving good feedback and making the most of feedback from others rather than focusing on different job roles. (The website is under development at present). A workshop based on the project is being developed and will be piloted in Southampton in September – I’ll be in Brighton by then so will not be leading it(!) Additional material for the website includes a card sort (built using the free software nanDECK), a series of feedback videos with reflective questions (built in xtranormal and put up on youtube), videos of interviews about feedback with the project team and other colleagues at Southampton, and online quizzes for staff and students. There is also a section specific on how we at Southampton work to enhance the quality of teaching across the university.
My teaching this year has focused in two major areas. I have been contributing to the interdisciplinary Curriculum Innovation module “Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment"). 2012-13 was the first time this module has run and I benefited greatly from working with National Teaching Fellow Simon Kemp. It has been some years since I taught undergraduates and the modules made extensive use of technology (including Twitter, Panopto, Blackboard) and had a variety of assessments including a presentation, conference paper and group film project.
My other teaching responsibility has involved teaching research skills to (mostly Humanities) doctoral students. I have run numerous sessions on everything from putting the thesis together, preparing for the viva, ethnographic methods, critical thinking and applying for funding. Most of my materials are available in the HumBox under a Creative Commons license. Students produce critical reflections on the sessions, which also provide me with feedback.
I continue to undertake evaluation for Routes into Languages programme which is funded to increase the uptake of languages in schools. I was recently a keynote speaker at the conference Innovative Language Teaching and Learning at University: Enhancing the Learning Experience through Student Engagement at the University, which was held at the University of Manchester.
I also presented at the LLAS e-learning symposium about my online open access language teaching research website YazikOpen. I have also been preparing materials for the LLAS annual Heads of Department workshop, which is entitled “Thriving for the Public Good”
At Brighton I am expecting to be involved in a variety of academic development activities including working with teaching staff to apply for the HEA Fellowships, blended learning and undertaking research. I will also being going to Plymouth in November to undertake PASS (Peer Assisted Study Session) Supervisor Training.
I've just returned from a few days in Averio, Portugal to meet with other partners in our EU-funded Sharing Practice in Enhancing and Assuring Quality (SPEAQ) project. It was a good time to meet as we are about to enter Phase 2 of the project. We have worked together to develop the quality workshop (for which the files will be made available on the SPEAQ website in the New Year)
and gathered interview data from students and staff in our institutions. In the second phase each project partner will be carryout a quality-related project in their own institution which builds on previous findings. I will be a position to say more about the Southampton project in the New Year, but the overall essence of the project is about enabling teaching staff, students and quality managers to take ownership of quality. One of the consistent findings of the partners (as I alluded to in my thoughts about the EQAF conference in Tallinn) is that quality assurance as understood by quality professionals is very different from that of academic staff and students. This 'separation' persists up to the highest levels of university managers where at the second or third tier of seniority one person will be ultimately responsible for quality assurance and another for Education. It is interesting to see that despite the diversity of quality assurance regimes throughout Europe this dichotomy is the norm rather than the exception.
Around 25 delegates at the European Quality Assurance Forum in Tallinn came to the workshop Ole Helmersen and I facilitated as part of our role in the Sharing Practice in Enhancing and Assuring Quality (SPEAQ) project team. The target audience of the conference meant that a majority of participants were in quality management roles. In contrast, the workshops I co-facilitated in Southampton and Edinburgh had mainly academic and student participants.
The project as a whole seeks to bring together academics students and quality managers in the Quality Assurance process. One of the ways in which we do this is through a dialogue sheet whereby people think of questions they would ask to assess the quality of everyday objects or services ranging from spanners to sofas to hospitals (my colleague Laurence Georgin has written more a detailed post about the workshop). They then go through the questions to discuss which questions they could also ask about higher education institutions or course programmes.
In terms of feedback from participants three emergent themes which struck me, which have been less evident in previous workshops. These differences are a consequence of both the fact that most of the participants were quality managers and the different academic systems in which they work.
- Participants brought up the question of internal processes, which are, of course, a key part of their job role. However as end-users of a product (whether as a patient in a hospital, a user of a spanner or a student on a higher education course), internal quality processes are not considered or addressed unless a problem emerges which gives course for an end user (or his/her representatives) to question internal quality processes.
- The durability of a product: a sofa may seem to be good quality at the point of purchase, but what happens if it falls apart a year later? Is an academic course durable? What if fails after purchase, (e.g. during the course or after graduation), despite seemingperfectly adequate for a length of time?
- Poor teaching: Is poor teaching quality a quality issue? On one hand the obvious answer is ‘yes’, but responsibilities for bringing poor performers up to standard usually lies with senior academics (Heads of Departments, Deans etc.,), not quality assurance managers. These questions also arise if ‘quality issues’ are a consequence of individual teacher illness or disability. In a multi-national setting cultural, historical and organisational structures can lead to different processes and outcomes.
The workshop powerpoint slide and files will be available in the few weeks.
Just returned from Innbruck from a SPEAQ project meeting. Beautiful city. A few pictures here.
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