Description of Good Assessment Practice

Title: Dr
Name: N.S Wong
Academic Position: Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer in UK or NZ)
Name of Institution: University of Hong Kong
Country: Hong Kong
Discipline: Science
Department/School: Biochemistry
Course title: Metabolism
Course code: BIOC2601
Class size: 41-100
Course Year: Year 2
Assessment Title: Raising Questions as a form of In-class Assessment
Assessment Type: Formative
Time allowed for assessment:
Target: Assessment of large classes
Learning outcomes of the assessment practice: Learning Outcome 1: discovering one’s own gap of knowledge

Learning Outcome 2: learn how to fill knowledge gaps by asking key questions,

Learning Outcome 3: recognising the importance of active participation (partnership) in learning

Learning Outcome 4: making use of collective wisdom arising from group learning

Key features and principles of the assessment practice: Basically this is an assessment exercise designed for the purpose of learning. Many students (particularly in their early part of university studies) are still used to the mere acquisition of factual knowledge as an end-point of learning. While the possession of knowledge is undoubtedly important, being able to actively and independently search for new knowledge, as opposed to relying on passively being provided with knowledge is of even greater importance in learning at the tertiary level, particularly in Science. The assessment exercise represents an attempt to address the above educational aim.

The assessment is conducted as follow. Students were asked to write down three questions while attending a lecture. The questions were collected from the class at the end of the lecture. All the questions will be reviewed by the teacher afterwards and before the start of the next lecture.

The assessment is based on the following judgement: ability to raise questions (the mere submission of questions already worth 1 point to serve as an incentive); a fair/sensible/logical question or a question demonstrating what one does not know, is worthy of 3 points; and a really good/intelligent question, reflective of good thinking is worthy of 5 points. The more exemplar questions will be used for subsequent tutorial classes during which students are asked to search for answers to the questions they raised.
What are the best things about this assessment method? The present assessment method is able to achieve the following:
(i) applicable to a small to medium student class size of up to 50; (ii) provides the teacher with a cross-sectional view of the intellectual quality/standard of the class; (iii) identification of possible delivery/communication problems arising from the teacher; students’ confusion of concepts and ideas; (iv) identify intelligent/insightful questions that will initiate deeper learning of the entire class; (v) identify students who maybe lagging behind the class and hence would require closer attention; (vi) change the view of the students regarding their role in the learning process (active participation in the learning process); (vii) cultivate confidence in students of their intellectual ability; (viii) identification of gaps of knowledge
What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method? The major challenge arises from the process of reviewing and analysing the quality of the questions. Given the number of students in the class, a teacher will routinely need to review hundreds of questions in a rather short period of time between two consecutive lectures. The planned solution is to have the student submit three questions at the end of each block of lectures, rather than at the end of each lecture. This will allow students to have more time to digest the lecture materials more thoroughly to come up with more insightful questions. The availability of time for discussion is also a problem. The way to overcome this problem is to make use of Moodle to setup virtual discussion groups. The participation of students can be monitored with peer assessment.
What do your students think about this assessment method? (Any evaluation?) Some bitterly opposes to such an approach of learning as could be found in comments expressed in Staff-student consultation meetings; the majority of students were able to hand in their questions at the end of lectures, but gradually students would ask for permission to hand in questions later through emails; some such late submissions however might have questions that are well thought of.
Plans for changes/developments in future (if any): As already explained above (Please refer to ‘What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method?’)
Creation date: 2015-10-15 15:40:35