What is unique about assessment and feedback in built environments disciplines? How might it support student learning more effectively?
Assessment is a crucial tool for teachers to measure how well their teaching practices are supporting student learning. By examining observable learning outcomes through assessment tasks, educators can identify areas where students are excelling and areas where they may need more support (Griffin, 2018). When paired with effective feedback, well-designed assessment can positively influence students' engagement in their learning (van Uden et al. 2014) and academic achievements (Hattie, 2008).
What does BEL+T investigate in this area?
BEL+T investigates multiple important roles for Assessment and Feedback in built environments disciplines. These include:
- Challenges of clear and equitable judgment in design education when there may not be a 'right' answer or even a 'right' approach. This includes strategic approaches to assessment design for interdisciplinary learning that includes creative disciplines.
- Necessary roles and skills that are needed for both educators and learners to establish and understand evaluative frameworks particular to a subject or to a subject area, as well as to support effective engagement with feedback.
- Students' perspectives in relation to clarity of assessment expectations, and students' experiences and preferences relating to the provision and experiences of useful feedback.
- Impact of assessment and feedback on supporting student wellbeing and mental health to identify evidence-based approaches and practices towards students' development and positive learning experiences.
How are these contributing to high-quality and relevant learning experiences?
BEL+T has developed the following outcomes from this work:
- BEL+T's DIA - an integrated learning design framework that includes Assessment (+ Feedback) as a key element of teacher-driven activity.
- The Assessment and Feedback section of the BEL+T website, which includes guidance relating to the cycle of assessment design, application and review.
- Guidance based around student survey responses, with a focus on clarity of assessment and usefulness of feedback.
What is next on the horizon?
We think finding equitable ways for students to be active participants in the practices of assessment is an important question to explore, and an opportunity to rethink old assessment habits and tropes.
We are interested in how assessment can usefully support the development and demonstration of knowledge and skills in an era of AI. We are also interested in the equitable use of technologies to support student learning through assessment and feedback.
We continue to build on previous work to respond to the challenges of identifying and applying values in complex areas, such as the assessment of design and of interdisciplinary learning.
Assessment + Feedback Webpage
BEL+T has drawn on the work outlined here to develop the Assessment + Feedback page on the BEL+T website.
The multiple paths of the Assessment element in the DIAgram indicate the importance of aligned assessment actions in students’ learning experiences. As with the other elements, Assessment is not a stand-alone activity, and in the DIAgram all of these overlap, influence and inform each other.
The Assessment + Feedback pages contain student-centred content that has been organised and curated through a teacher-centred lens. This aims to support educators through the cycle of Assessment + Feedback. We follow Griffin to define assessment as the search for evidence of learning. When designed and delivered effectively, this provides valuable evidence to support students in their learning and to offer educators relevant information to direct and guide their teaching practices.
The Assessment + Feedback (A+F) Cycle developed by BEL+T and shared on the page consists of five stages: Plan; Engage; Evaluate; Respond; Reflect.
A+F Literacy Great Convos
A Faculty-wide event highlighting innovative teaching practices that promote student feedback literacy.
In October 2022, BEL+T hosted ABP Great Feedback Convos, an event that focused on student feedback literacy and the teaching practices that support this development. This interactive session centred on unpacking student feedback literacy and examining its support in ABP at a subject level by Subject Coordinators, and in the classroom by experienced Casual Teaching Staff.
The session examined feedback literacy through the following themes:
1. ESS Tactics
- What have students identified as qualities of “useful feedback” (via the ESS)?
- How have subject coordinators addressed these challenges in the design of subjects?
2. Feedback Literacy
- What are the roles of assessment and feedback for learning?
- How does ‘feedback literacy’ enable students to be active learners?
- How can we consider our own feedback practices through this approach?
3. Feedback Literacy in Practice
- What are some feedback practices by excellent sessional colleagues that support the development of students’ feedback literacy?
4. Walking the Walk
- Can we rephrase our own feedback examples to focus on student feedback literacy?
ESS Q2 + Q3 Guidance
While they are an incomplete indicator, student survey responses can offer a valuable view on student perspectives and values via thematic analysis of comments and scores. This is one useful source of information for the development of teaching and learning.
The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne has a set of protocols for analysis and review of student survey data to inform decision-making about teaching. This approach focuses on better understanding student perspectives on their learning experiences, and on identifying and sharing good teaching practices across the faculty. As part of this, BEL+T conducts thematic analysis of student responses which informs targeted focus groups and/or workshops with teaching staff. These workshops focus on identifying and sharing good practices across the faculty, and produce guidance that identifies related tactics as well as things to consider for their application.
In relation to Assessment and Feedback, BEL+T produced guidance focussed on two End Semester Survey (ESS) questions in 2022.
Q2: The expectations, including assessment requirements, were clear.
Based on student feedback and a series of conversations with ABP subject coordinators, BEL+T has produced a set of Tactics for Assessment-Related Expectations. The objective of this process was to identify the characteristics that students attribute to subjects with clear expectations to inform teaching practices. ABP student voices described the qualities they associated with clear expectations, including for assessment requirements, as:
- Clearly Communicated - Communications prepared by teaching staff around expectations are clear and effective.
- Supported by Interaction - Opportunities are available for students to clarify expectations with staff and peers.
- Reliable - Student expectations are confirmed through summative assessment procedures (i.e., no surprises).
- Consistent - Expectations are consistent over time, and across communications and teaching staff.
Q3: I received useful feedback on my progress.
Based on student feedback and a series of conversations with ABP subject coordinators, BEL+T has produced a set of Tactics for Useful Feedback. The objective of this process was to identify the characteristics that students attribute to subjects with clear expectations to inform teaching practices. ABP student voices described “useful” feedback as:
- Well-Planned - Frequent opportunities for students to engage with feedback – these are timed to relate well to assessment tasks and overall subject design.
- Constructive and Supportive - Feedback tone and focus aim at supporting student learning, professional development and wellbeing.
- Credible - Feedback draws on multiple credible perspectives and is relevant to the cohort’s diverse expectations for professional futures.
Collaboration across disciplinary boundaries offers new approaches to the wicked problems of our time ... Good quality interdisciplinary education is therefore increasingly valuable for the graduates of the twenty-first century. Assessment is a key part of this puzzle.
The Multiple Measures team, led by Tregloan, developed an online tool and website to inform the assessment design for developing or delivered interdisciplinary teaching. It includes a rich library of ID examples that can be searched using the tailored filters that were developed in the project. The filters focus on the Student Cohort, Learning Outcomes, and Pedagogy. The tool will help educators to find examples of ID education, and good benchmarking comparators to inform interdisciplinary assessment design.
Multiple Measures was an Innovation and Development project funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The project focused on interdisciplinary learning and teaching that included the creative arts and humanities. It investigated interdisciplinary assessment design in undergraduate and coursework masters units/courses/subjects.
Access the Multiple Measures tool here.
Tregloan, K., Wise, K., & Fountain, W. (2016, September). Multiple measures and interdisciplinary adventures: Benchmarking interdisciplinary assessment design in the Creative Arts and Humanities. In ACUADS 2016 Conference proceedings (pp. 29-30). ACUADS.
- Boud, D., & Dawson, P. (2021). What feedback literate teachers do: an empirically-derived competency framework. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-14.
- Carless, D., & Boud, D. (2018). The development of student feedback literacy: enabling uptake of feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), 1315-1325.
- To, J., Panadero, E., & Carless, D. (2021). A systematic review of the educational uses and effects of exemplars. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-16.
- Jones, E., Priestley, M., Brewster, L., Wilbraham, S. J., Hughes, G., & Spanner, L. (2021). Student wellbeing and assessment in higher education: the balancing act. Assessment & evaluation in higher education, 46(3), 438-450.
- Tregloan, K. (2012). eRubric: absolutely relative or relatively absolute?... striking a balance in the assessment of student design work [Conference Paper].