Description of the assessment strategy - Case Study 4: Inspiring students to do their best
Part 3 in Case Study 4: Inspiring students to do their best a case study from Enhancing the Effectiveness of Tertiary Teaching and Learning through Assessment.
Description of the assessment strategy
Terry describes two strategies, connected to his goal of encouraging students to aspire to excellence, which he employs in the third year paper, Coastal Geomorphology and Management. The first strategy consists of providing students with bonus marks in the major internally assessed assignment while the second strategy consists of providing students with formative feedback in preparation for the final exam.
For this paper, the internally assessed work is worth 60% of the total mark while the final exam is worth 40% of the total mark. The internal assessment consists of five laboratory assignments worth 45%, one test worth 5%, and a field trip assignment worth 50%. Students are able to achieve bonus marks for the field trip assignment.
In the first half of the semester, the teaching slots and designated laboratory sessions are used for providing the relevant background theory, and then the compulsory two or three-day field trip takes place during the mid-semester recess. During the field trip, students are assigned to groups to collect data, and then in the second half of the semester, they use their laboratory time to work with the data and produce individual field reports.
For the field report, students can gain bonus marks for providing answers that go beyond what would normally be expected. As Terry explains, 'One year we got someone who did an incredible job, almost like a Masters thesis. If they put in the effort, if they go into the library, if they bring in international literature and go well beyond the call of duty in any of these questions, they get bonus marks. I want them to impress me. Therefore, I want them to do the maximum.' To prepare students to aim for the bonus points in the field report, Terry also gives out bonus points for really good answers during laboratories.
The second strategy consists of providing students with formative feedback for model essay answers in preparation for the final exam. During the study week, students are able to bring a model answer to Terry for feedback. He says, 'Last year, about 15 students came and saw me. I tend to have a bit of an open door policy, so they can come in anytime.' As Terry's office is not on the main campus, students have to make the effort to visit him if they want to talk over their model exam answer. As he says, 'I'm not available to do it by email because it takes me much too long. I think it's important that it is person to person; we sit down and discuss it together which you can't do by email. The students get an instant response.'