Description of Good Assessment Practice

Title: Prof
Name: Rebecca Chiu
Academic Position: Full Professor
Name of Institution: University of Hong Kong
Country: Hong Kong
Discipline: Architecture
Department/School: Department of Urban Planning and Design
Course title: Housing, Planning and Sustainability
Course code: URBP6904
Class size: 21-40
Course Year: Postgraduate
Assessment Title: Assessment & Feedback using "Assessment Forms" for Group Projects
Assessment Type: Formative
Time allowed for assessment:
Target: Assessment of group work
Learning outcomes of the assessment practice: Learning Outcome 1: To be able to apply the housing system concepts to examine housing issues.

Learning Outcome 2: To be able to analyse the evolution of housing policies in Hong Kong in the context of societal change.

Learning Outcome 3: To be able to analyse the major housing issues in Hong Kong’s public and private housing sectors.

Learning Outcome 4: To be able to analyse and explain the planning issues in the housing sector of Hong Kong.

Learning Outcome 5: To be able to comprehend sustainability concepts and apply them to critique housing issues, particularly those in high density and high rise environments.

Key features and principles of the assessment practice: Principles

The course aims to help students gain insight into different issues in housing and planning, by providing opportunities for students to apply different concepts learnt in class to real life situation. For example, a student who has been working at the housing department for a long time may think that he/she has a very good understanding of the issue on point systems in public housing allocation as he/she may have played a role in it. So, he/she may have some pre-conceived idea about the degree of fairness of the policy before doing his/her dissertation. However, as they are guided to apply the different concepts taught in class and to look into the issue in greater depth, the outcome may be completely different from their previous conception. This involves the building up of some skills, which cannot be taught at the point when students start doing their dissertation. It is through individual courses, and through the different types of assessment throughout the course, that students will start to build up their generic skills (e.g. analytical skill, logical thinking, critical thinking and how to apply concepts). It does not mean that students will learn these skills after being introduced to some techniques in class, rather they have to be given opportunities to drill and nurture them throughout the course.

Assessment is an active learning vehicle. In this course, there are no examinations. Students are not tested on how much they remember or how much they learnt during the lectures. Rather, they are expected to go beyond what is taught in the lectures through doing the essay and group project. Hands-on project work is very useful to them in terms of the nurturing of intellectual capabilities.

Key features
1.) Group-based project (30%)

The group project aims to facilitate students’ understanding of current housing issues. Students will look into real life issues through field work when they are doing their group project. They are expected to do a micro-analysis of the macro issues introduced in the lectures.

For example, topics such as public rental housing and Hong Kong development were introduced in the lectures. However, there are a lot of underlying issues on these topics. For instance, ‘Why are so many people staying in cubicle apartment?’, ‘Why do people need to queue for such a long time for housing?’. So some students will do research on the problem of subdivided units, while some will visit public rental housing estate to see its design and planning, and how the users utilize the facilities. They may also observe the living condition of elderly in the estate and do surveys to directly collect information and opinions from the residents and so on. Such active learning helps promote learning. The extent to which students can grasp the knowledge of the real life issues can give the teacher an idea of whether they understand the micro-issues and conceptual issues taught during the lecture.

Students have to do the group presentation in the last 2 lectures. So, if there are 10 groups presenting, there will be a total of 10 different topics, which can help broaden students’ understanding of housing issues. In a group setting, students will also be exposed to different views from different perspectives on the same issue, and have the chance of learning how to integrate and draw conclusion from diverse views.

For group projects, it is common to have free riders, so students are required to divide their work for the group project, so that every student in the group will be responsible for a different aspect. When they hand in their group project, they will have to note down which part of the project they are responsible for, and they will be graded based on the quality of the part that they are responsible for. So, students in the same group will have different marks. Doing so helps to reduce the number of free riders.

Feedback is given to students during the process of their preparation for the group project. The teacher will meet the individual groups for around two times to discuss with them about their project outline and give suggestions for improvement. Both written and verbal feedback will be given based on their project outline.

Students are assessed with a project assessment form (see Figure 1), which allow the teacher to rate students on different sub-areas under a key area (i.e. content, presentation and English writing). For instance, students are rated on a 5-point Likert scale from ‘unsatisfactory’ to ‘excellent’ on both ‘clarity of presentation’ and ‘citation and referencing’ under presentation skills. Students will also be given a grade and some general comments.

2.) Term paper (70%)
What are the best things about this assessment method? Giving feedback to students during discussion meetings with each individual group create a two-way teacher-student interaction, as students will ask questions based on the feedback from the teacher. This helps to scaffold students’ learning during the preparation process of the group project.

There is an interaction component when immediate feedback is given to students after their presentation. Other students can also learn from the strengths and weaknesses of other groups if they are paying attention to the feedback given; and this becomes part of learning together. As individual marks are given for their verbal presentation, students also take it more seriously.

The use of the project/coursework assessment form allows students to see which specific area they are weaker in. It also gives students more detailed feedback, with an overall comment. In other words, students do not only get a grade.
What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method? As there is no tutor for the taught master’s programme, time is a challenge when feedback and guidance have to be given to each individual group.
What do your students think about this assessment method? (Any evaluation?) Students give good feedback in the teaching evaluation of this course.Firstly, students feel that they learnt a lot and they learnt that they have to see things from multiple perspectives, and that there are many underlying factors influencing each urban or housing phenomenon. Secondly, students learnt how to use analytical tool as we require them to apply different concepts and models and students appreciate this.
Plans for changes/developments in future (if any): A questionnaire survey has just started to collect detailed feedback from current students and recent graduates about the effectiveness of group projects as an effective learning and teaching vehicle.
Attachment: Group Project Assessment Form
Creation date: 2015-10-28 12:38:30