March 25, 2015, by Teaching at Nottingham

Tailored Approaches to Assessment and Feedback in the School of Physics and Astronomy

“Our priority at the moment is securing renewal of our accreditation with the Institute of Physics, so what we’ve started doing at the School is the process of mapping the learning outcomes of our courses with the requirements of the Institute. It’s a good time to look at [an Assessment Review]…we’ve got a very good motivation.”

“[The Teaching Transformation Programme] is a very valuable information-gathering exercise, to see…what we can change to make things better, to balance the types of assessment. The priority there must always be educational; by making students do the work at the right time – and making them do the right kind of work, critical thinking rather than memorising – we want them to think. That has got implications for assessment because it makes it more labour intensive. We tell the students: show us your thinking process, show the deliberation, and assessing that automatically with online assessment methods is quite hard.”

“We’ve had long discussions about how to deal with this and the conclusion always is that we don’t know of any other way to do it than getting students to work consistently over time. Physics doesn’t work by cramming at the end.”

“In Year One we’ve got tutorials every week with the students in groups of five, in which we can do a significant amount of different activities and…we give them constructive feedback on how they can improve.”

“After consultation with the students, we replaced tutorials with larger problem-solving classes for higher year students. We grouped students into interactive spaces where they get on with the problems with staff around to help them. That works very well, the students like it very much, they told us that’s what they wanted. We need to make them independent; we take them by the hand to start with and we tell them at some point you can walk on your own.”

Professor Alfonso Aragón-Salamanca

School of Physics & Astronomy

Posted in Assessment and feedbackTTP