Sharing responsibility for learning through formative evaluation: moving to evaluation as learning

Catherine Bovill

Abstract


When gathering student feedback on courses and programmes in higher education, the emphasis is often placed on adaptations that academic staff can make to enhance teaching approaches and thereby improve the learning experiences of students. These are commendable aims, however, it is argued in this paper that the focus on academic staff making changes to teaching and learning misses an opportunity for students to reflect upon their influences over, and potential to enhance, their learning experiences and those of their peers. Many undergraduate and postgraduate programmes aim to develop students’ skills in critical analysis and autonomous learning, with some courses specifically requiring participants to engage in critical reflection on their practice. Yet it is relatively uncommon for evaluation of courses to include any requirement for students to evaluate their own role in the learning experience. An example is presented of a simple, small-scale formative evaluation exercise where course participants were encouraged to give feedback on a course, their learning experiences and on the teaching approach used. However, this evaluation also required participants to reflect on the role they played in their own and others’ learning. It is argued that the approach described in this paper that encourages student self-reflection on learning as an integral part of evaluation processes, is a form of evaluation as learning. This is an approach that could be adapted for use in a wide range of courses for the purpose of encouraging students to reflect more deeply on their role in their own and others’ learning.

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