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    Innovative assessment approaches by Harper lecturers shared at international conference

    2 August 2023

    Innovative assessment approaches by two Harper Adams University lecturers have been shared at a major international conference.

    Veterinary Nursing Lecturer Katherine Hart and Senior Engineering Lecturer Graham Higginson both presented work at this year’s Assessment in Higher Education conference, which draws delegates from across Europe and Australasia and leading scholars in higher education assessment.

    Each talked about the ways they work to assess students at Harper Adams, the difference this makes to their teaching – and the impact it has on their students’ learning.

    Graham explained: “Presenting at the Assessment in Higher Education conference was exciting, with the usual butterflies in my tummy, especially is it a highly regarded international conference.

    “The AHE conference has been attended by many colleagues previously but  I have not had the opportunity to go along – so at my first attendance, it was not only great to take inspiration and ideas from the many presenters but also be a presenter myself.”

    Meanwhile Kat added: “Making my presentation was exciting – but I was also nervous as this was my first time attending an external conference in this field as well presenting this research.

    “The opportunity first came about when my previous Postgraduate Certificate mentor, Professor Lydia Arnold, suggested I look at presenting my research at the conference as the organisers were calling for papers and presenters.”

    Kat’s presentation and research focused on a method she uses which helps students understand the terminology which may be used in their assessments.

    She added: “The main focus of my research was to explore the methods of using common food and drink items during assessment terminology workshops, to help undergraduate and postgraduate students understand a variety of assessment terms.

    “My research is also transferrable to other course areas, as it is not solely limited to veterinary nursing.

    “As students progress through their degree, more is expected from them and higher level, measurable assessment verbs are often used in their assessments.

    “Assessment terms such as evaluate, compare and contrast and analyse can be tricky to understand - and workshops on assessment terminology helped both undergraduate and postgraduate students."


    Meanwhile, Graham drew upon work he’d developed for a Masters in Education, which looked at how university assessment policies can affect both staff and student workload.

    He explained: “This work compared the documented expectations with the lived reality.

    “Unsurprisingly, there was a considerable disparity between them, with students undertaking too many submission points throughout the academic year - and as that meant their learning outcomes were assessed more than once, there appears to have been over-assessment by staff, too!”

    Both Graham and Kat have used their research to inform their work at Harper, and are keen to share their findings both at external conferences – and also directly with fellow colleagues.

    Graham added: “This research has informed my module authoring considerations and activities for the recent Harper Forward curriculum review, which goes live for the Engineering department in the new academic year.

    “Additionally, I hope to be able to share with colleagues at the forthcoming Learning and Teaching Conference at Harper Adams later this Summer.”




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