Description of Good Assessment Practice

Title: Ms / Dr
Name: Michelle WT Cheng/Cecilia K Y Chan
Academic Position: RA/Associate Professor
Name of Institution: CETL, The University of Hong Kong
Country: Hong Kong
Discipline: Education
Course title:
Course code:
Class size: 20-25 local students (per floor)
Course Year: Undergraduate
Assessment Title: Assessment of generic skills in residential education - a journey towards good practice.
Assessment Type: Floor Mid-year evaluation (MYE) / End-year evaluation (EVE)
Time allowed for assessment: Unlimited
Target: Peer- and self-assessment & generic skills assessment
Learning outcomes of the assessment practice: LO1: To be able to reflect on the observation and understanding of generic skills on oneself and others.
LO2: To be able to explain and justify the feedback during peer review and self-assessment.
LO3: To be critical and objective in receiving/delivering constructive feedback from/to others.
LO4: To be able to make sense of the constructive feedback from floormates and make improvements for the next semester.
Key features and principles of the assessment practice: Residential education has long been recognized as an important part of undergraduate education. Yet, its assessment methods for generic skills are far from well developed. In the University of Hong Kong, each floor of every residential hall has a Mid-year evaluation (MYE) at the end of the first semester and an End-year evaluation (EYE) at the end of the second semester. MYE and EYE are the basic requirements for hall readmission. Therefore, it is necessary for students to undergo these evaluations in order to apply for hall readmission in the next year. It is hoped that through MYE or EVE, students will get feedback about their performance and learn from each other.
Both MYE and EYE are face-to-face evaluation including self-assessment and peer review. In a floor with around twenty-five floormates, they will take turns commenting upon themselves and other floormates. The evaluation will be conducted in two parts: individual evaluation (assessing one's generic skills development - e.g. communication and leadership skills, critical thinking) and post evaluation (assessing one's performance based on their role - e.g. floor-chairperson, financial secretary).
What are the best things about this assessment method? Floor MYE and EYE are initiated and conducted fully by floormates; this can increase their responsibility and autonomy. Ideally floormates can strive for a deeper understanding of oneself (e.g. generic skills, personality and ability) via self-assessment. Peer review is also a vital process that involves other floormates in critical reflection and helps them to develop better judgement.
What are the challenges in implementing this assessment method? (1) Generally a floor MYE or EYE lasts for 6-10 hours without any break, which can be very ineffective. Poor time management is one of the contributing factors; students lack the skill to allocate time properly. Thus, floormates feel exhausted or hungry in the middle of the evaluation. This could mentally distract them from the evaluation process, which may affect the reliability of their judgment.
(2) Floormates also lack general guidelines on how to provide feedback and evaluation. There is no formal training for floormates on how to review others or how to deliver feedback in a constructive way. Every floormate has a different interpretation on the criteria of how to be a good floormate. Therefore, the peer review on one's generic skills or personality is not standardized and can be very subjective. Many evaluations turn out to be an irrational finger-pointing instead of rational and critical judgement that aims to stimulate personal growth.
What do your students think about this assessment method? (Any evaluation?) (1) Students perceive floor MYE and EVE as a duty to fulfill in order for readmission. Most of them do not understand the meaning of doing it.
(2) They think it is a waste of time to be reviewed by others. This may be due to the belief that their peers do not have any real authority in the hall and that their comments are very subjective and given without evidence. Therefore, students will not take the feedback seriously.
(3) Floor MYE and EYE may damage the relationship between floormates. They think it is hard to critically comment or judge their floormates, as negative comments can damage the mutual trust and friendship between individuals.
Plans for changes/developments in future (if any): (1) The project "Professional Development and Capacity Building for Residential Education", which aims at enhancing the quality of residential education and learning for students by nurturing residential staffs has already launched since last year. By investing more resources into training residential staffs, it is hoped that resident tutors can be more involved in the floor MYE and EYE to facilitate the self-assessment and peer review process.
(2) Floor leaders need to be more receptive to supportive training from the halls. As they take a critical role in holding floor MYE and EYE; they must also have good generic skill set (etc. time management, social skill, and critical thinking) to ensure the floor MYE/EYE are administered effectively and efficiently. Floor leaders need to be equipped before they take up the leading role in their floor in their second year.
(3) It is important for the floormates to know the rationale behind floor MYE and EYE. If they believe that the evaluation exercises are just for fulfilling a compulsory floor function, they will not be willing to learn or improve themselves. Proper guidelines need to be developed for the evaluation process, so that both the self-assessment and peer review can provide meaningful feedback which can help students develop as a whole person.
Creation date: 2015-11-20 15:04:47