Raspberries, (w)Riting, Reflection, Rage, Reading, Running around, Ruminating and Relaxing

17 Aug

Designing Better Assignments Post-Covid

Although I haven’t posted for 6 weeks, I’ve been pretty busy over the summer.

  • Participating in the formal defence of her thesis by my dear friend Dr Hetty Grunefeld at Utrecht University. I should have been there in person in the ancient university hall and celebrating with her and other members of the PhD by Publication Group I’ve been convening for years, but it wasn’t to be so I did it from my study in an approximation of academic dress as requested  and was overjoyed to see her graduate;
  • Running a three-day virtual writing residential for PebblePad clients on starting to get published on learning, teaching and assessment;
  • Leading a workshop for Leeds Beckett senior staff aiming to achieve Principal Fellowship of the Higher education Academy;
  • Mentoring half a dozen colleagues pro bono during lockdown to help them keep up momentum with their life and writing goals;
  • Drafting a chapter on doing a PhD by Publication for a volume expected to be published in 2021;
  • Completing and submitting my SEDA Senior Fellowship reflection, which is a condition of my ongoing status retention;
  • Continuing to work with Kay Sambell on our suite of publications on managing assessment during Covid-19 and beyond. We are in particular working on ensuring that HE assessment in the future never reverts to the ghastliness of largely-ubiquitous, traditional unseen time-constrained exams, instead using more fit-for-purpose and authentic assessment approaches. We hope that one of these will be published by SEDA in the Autumn and another will be posted on this site and Kay’s very soon.
  • We’ve also been working on a new post on ‘Writing better assignments in the post-Covid19 era: approaches to good task design’  Writing-better-assignments-in-the-post-Covid19-era.docx (465 downloads) which I hope colleagues will find useful when moving away from traditional exams. While we’ve been writing it , I’ve been driven to rage and fury at the current UK totally-foreseeable problems our government has inflicted on our nation’s A-level students by applying a flawed algorithm to predicted results for students applying to universities right now, resulting in devastating injustice, reinforcing my strong reservations concerning exams!

Meanwhile Phil and I have been coping with domestic lockdown with plenty of home-based productive activities including lots of fruit harvesting (fabulous raspberries, redcurrants and cucumbers this year) and produce making, reading novels (Ali Smith’s Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer are what I’m reading at the moment), socially distanced interaction with our Newcastle grandchildren including garden yoga classes, much baking and socially-distanced outdoor catching up with friends.

In the Autumn I’m looking forward to more writing with Kay, continuing to work with NUI Galway on their academic promotions scheme, a couple of virtual keynotes (I’m getting better with Zoom but still struggling with Teams despite a broadband upgrade) and working with another university helping them enhance NSS scores, following successful outcomes from my collaborations at Solent University last year.

This is my seventieth year and I had planned to spend much of it traveling abroad, which obviously isn’t happening, but I’m still managing to have a busy, engaging and largely enjoyable time.