Description of Good Assessment Practice

Title: Dr
Name: Tammy Kwan
Academic Position: Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer in UK or NZ)
Name of Institution: University of Hong Kong
Country: Hong Kong
Discipline: Education
Department/School: Policy, Administration & Social Sc
Course title: Diploma in Education (Geography major)
Course code:
Class size: 1-20
Course Year: Postgraduate
Assessment Title: Preparatory Task & Reflective Journal for Problem Based Learning
Assessment Type: Formative
Time allowed for assessment:
Target: Generic skill assessment
Learning outcomes of the assessment practice: Learning Outcome 1: To be able to analyse and/or reflect on the observation and understanding of the identified aspects of an area covered in the lesson video analysis.

Learning Outcome 2: To be able to explain and justify the arguments with relevant readings of educational theories.

Learning Outcome 3: To be able to explore and critically reflect upon your own educational assumptions, experiences, ideas and/or practices.

Learning Outcome 4: To be able to make sense of the constructive discussions in the sessions about your analysis of educational issues and/or situations as demonstrated in the comments given by your peers and the Major Method tutor.
Key features and principles of the assessment practice: PBL: Six Preparatory Tasks and One Reflective Journal

One of the assignments is situated in a block of problem-based learning (PBL), before the start of their 4-weeks practicum.

Key features

Students will be given a problem, a scenario or an authentic lesson video recorded (by previous student teachers). With that, students are required to do a preparatory task. Students will do their individual preparatory task and receive individual feedback from the lecturer before the PBL discussion. As the PBL discussion is held on Tuesday evening, students are expected to submit their preparatory task to the lecturer by Tuesday morning, so that the lecturer can read through what they have done and give feedback. Students do the preparatory task weekly, so altogether, they have to do six pieces of preparatory tasks, because there are a total of six PBL tutorial discussions. Students will complete the preparatory task beforehand, and they will utilize the feedback from the lecturer as well as what they have prepared to come up with a group PBL discussion. In other words, they will merge individual views to form a group view, in groups of about five to six. By the end of the PBL session, the groups will present to each other. They can see how they have got similar ideas, identify similar issues or different agenda. If there is anything that cannot be fully addressed or discussed in the PBL session, the workshop or seminar session on Thursday will be used to pick up whatever left from that PBL to further elaborate, and further discuss.

Students will also do a preparatory task on a particular topic for the class on Thursday; however, they will not be assessed on it. Only the Tuesday preparatory task will be assessed. Although students are not assessed for the preparatory task on Thursday, the lecturer will utilize what students have expressed in the preparatory task to finalize her PowerPoint for the Thursday evening class, so that students can see that what they have done is being incorporated into the class. It can be considered as an incentive, as well as another way of giving feedback.

After students have completed the whole PBL block, they will have to write a reflective journal to help prepare them for the practicum. They can pick any aspect which they would like to reflect on. For example, they can reflect on the PBL process, their personal experiences, observations or one particular issue raised in the discussion.

The preparatory tasks are designed in a way which allows students to see how well they can conceptualize before the PBL discussion. When it comes to the third, fourth and the fifth PBL session, students will be presented with a video of lessons taught by their ex-peers, in addition to the scenario. In other words, before students go into the classroom to teach, they are provided with opportunities to observe what their ex-peer has taught and then comment according to the focus of that weekly PBL. When given the video-recorded lessons, students may find it easy to criticize them, and this actually helps improve their confidence in going into the school to help with teaching for the first time. This also helps to increase their self-awareness, when it comes to their turn to record a video of their own lesson for the second assignment.

Students are assessed for all of the individual preparatory tasks to encourage them to take the tasks seriously, but it is emphasized that there is no right or wrong answer. When giving feedback, the lecturer will not comment on whether the students are right or wrong, rather, the lecturer will ask questions (e.g. “What do you mean by this?”) and give suggestions (e.g. “This part seems to be interesting, if possible, please try to raise this and share this more with your peers during the PBL discussion in the evening.”). The more the students write, the more comments the lecturer will give. This gives students a positive impression that the lecturer is willing to share more with them if they contribute more to the discussion, and this acts as a form of incentive and motivation for active participation and contribution.
What are the best things about this assessment method? The assessment practice used in this programme is formative and the assessment tasks are designed in such a way that they are relevant to students, to help them learn, and to make improvement, with the lecturer walking the journey together with them. Feedback is ongoing to help students think, to encourage them to ask more questions and to help them put the theories they have learnt on campus into practice. To put it simply, assessment is ongoing, interactive and matching theory and practice.

PBL: Six Preparatory Tasks and One Reflective Journal

All of the individual preparations and immediate feedback from the lecturer allows them to have meaningful discussion during the tutorial. For students who did not put in much effort to do the preparation, they can actually see that when they come to the discussion, the discussion may be overtaken by the more competent members if they do not have much to talk about. Towards the end of the PBL block, it was observed that students who did not put in much time at the beginning tried a lot better.

Although students find the workload heavy, they actually write a lot and find it useful. From students’ reflective journal and class observation of MTP in November, the lecturer observed that students performed much better than 10 years ago, before the use of this teaching approach and assessment.
What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method? The schedule is tight as students only have six weeks to do the PBL block and PBL is challenging as the lecturer has to let go of students to do the discussion, to come up with learning issues and as much new knowledge as they need to acquire. It is time pressing upon the lecturer because as soon as students send their work to the lecturer on Tuesday morning, the lecturer will have to read through them immediately and offer comments, so that students can take them back and prepare for the evening session.
What do your students think about this assessment method? (Any evaluation?) Although students admit that it is very demanding, they believe that it is all worthwhile, and they can see the benefit.
Plans for changes/developments in future (if any): The Postgraduate Diploma in Education programme is going through a reform and there are plans to inject the PBL element into the curriculum, and to expose students to school as early as possible. There are also plans to establish the linkage between the assessment and the learning outcome as soon as possible, rather than waiting till the end of the semester to come up with an end-of-term paper.
Creation date: 2015-10-28 14:32:59