Assessment Reassessed: A student and lecturer collaborative enquiry

Grant type: Developing Pedagogy and Practice 2010/11
Round: Pedagogy and Practice Jan 2011
Amount awarded £4,990.00
Completed: January 2012
Leader(s): Dr Will Curtis
Organisation: De Montfort University
Contact Email:
Contact phone: 0116 2506188
Dr Jane McDonnell
Historical and Social Studies, De Montfort University
Mrs Samantha McGinty
Historical and Social Studies, De Montfort University
Start Date: 1 March 2011
End Date: 31 December 2011
Interim report received: 17 October 2011
Final report received: 17 January 2012

The project aims were two-fold: first to explore notions of collaborative assessment feedback with undergraduate Education programmes at six higher education institutions, and second to develop models of student-lecturer collaborative enquiry.

An assessment feedback continuum was identified – from ‘scientific’, objective practices at one end and subjective, creative and interpersonal at the other. The latter emphasised the significance of student-lecturer relationships and dialogue as central to the feedback process. The factors critical to the success of collaborative enquiry were the development of trust and support within teams and the time and space to build these relationships effectively. All participants felt that they were learning together and expanding their horizons – in terms of bridging gaps, accessing ‘hidden worlds’ and understanding the messiness of the feedback and research processes.

In our own department, we intend to re-evaluate the styles of assessment and feedback utilised on our programmes – focusing on the enhancement of more collaborative approaches. In addition, we intend to develop a number of more informal spaces for student-lecturer conversation and enquiry. We are conscious of the need for a multiplicity of student voices to be engaged with, but mindful that not all students can or wish to participate in more formal settings.

We have found real benefits in the use of student-staff collaborative enquiry. For colleagues interested in developing opportunities to embed ‘students as (co-)researchers’ in their practice, we recommend its applicability to a range of settings - for instance, the implementation of student-lecturer ‘working parties’ to monitor, evaluate and develop curriculum and assessment. We also see this approach as offering potential for more engaging dissertation supervisory relations and in the continued development of online collaborative conversation.