Description of Good Assessment Practice

Name: David Skidmore
Academic Position:
Name of Institution: The University of Hong Kong
Discipline: Social Sciences
Course title: Senior Seminar in International Relations Theory
Course code:
Class size: 1-20
Course Year: Spring, 2010
Assessment Title: Writing Assignments, Peer Review and Critical Thinking
Assessment Type: Formative
Time allowed for assessment: 50 minutes each week
Learning outcomes of the assessment practice: 1) Papers:
Each student will write seven 3-4 page papers for this course. These assignments require that students comment on the readings for a specific week according to particular guidelines. Students need to examine one or more of the assigned readings. The central purpose of the paper will be to offer a critical evaluation of the author’s thesis instead of a summary. Students may focus on the author’s overall argument, or, more narrowly, on a specific argument or sub-theme within the larger work.

2) Peer Review:
Part of each class will be spent in small group discussion. In groups of three (or four), students will read and comment upon one another's papers. Students need to bring three (or four) copies of their paper to class: one for each of the students in their group. Group members will rotate papers so that one (sometimes two) person will bring a paper each week. Group members will evaluate draft papers using a critical thinking rubric that will be provided by the instructor. The purpose of the rubric is to provide guidance for improving the quality of content, organization and presentation. Using the group's feedback, students will have a chance to revise their papers. In addition to the final draft, students should turn in the rough drafts containing written comments by their peers. Students may take the comments made in class discussion and the group meetings into account when they revise their paper. Students will learn from the constructive criticism of their classmates. More importantly, they will find the process of responding to the ideas and writing of others a useful means for practicing critical thinking skills.

3) Web Forum Discussions:
Students are required to participate in the web forum discussion for this class. The web forum discussion consists of a website where comments on the readings can be posted. During weeks when students are not submitting a paper, they are expected to visit the web forum to contribute a short (e.g., one paragraph) comment on a reading for that week in response to questions posed by the instructor. Students may also use their contribution to respond to a comment previously left by another member of the class. The web forum discussion will prepare the way for more interesting and substantive in-class exchanges.
Key features and principles of the assessment practice:
What are the best things about this assessment method?
What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method?
What do your students think about this assessment method? (Any evaluation?)
Plans for changes/developments in future (if any):
Creation date: 2011-01-03 14:48:00