Archive for the ‘Angela Blog’ Category

Initial Assessment Tools

May 22nd, 2009 by Angela Rees

The Search for Spock initial assessment tools;

DfES recommend the following resources via their read write plus campaign http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/readwriteplus/

The Basic Skills Agency has produced “skills check” tools as a way of screening students to see if further initial assessment is required. http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/toolslibrary

Cambridge Training and Development (CTAD) “Target Skills” http://www.targetskills.net/ not much info here, but leads to publications pages.

West Nottinghamshire College have produced a Basic Keyskillbuilder although the links all lead to password protected moodle site where you can’t even log in as a guest user – so no use for anyone wishing to follow examples of good practice.

The only useful one here so far is the Basic Skills agency, available resources are; “Good Practice Guidelines” http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/pdf/Good_Practice_Guide.pdf which is subtitled “for literacy, language and numeracy teachers, subject support staff and adult learner supporters” . Who are these guidelines designed to help?

“Skills for Life is an ambitious strategy that is designed to address literacy, language and numeracy needs of all adults and young people. It covers all post-16 learners on learning programmes at levels from pre-Entry up to and including Level 2.”

So not all adults and young people as it doesn’t include level 3+ courses?

New search;

“Initial assessment in HE” returned the following document written in 2001, http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/pre2005/quality/goodpractice/initial-assessment-of-learning-and-support-needs-and-planning-learning-to-meet-needs.pdf which highlights some good points (this is from 2001 not found anything more recent yet…)

The trend appears to be to assess basic skills; literacy and numeracy, upon commencing a course, those who need help with either are picked up and support offered such as testing for dyslexia, there are relatively few references to screening mainstream students and where they are screened, it is only for “basic skills”

Otherwise existing qualifications are used as the startpoint to compare gaining new skills and knowledge against. But this doesn’t help determine what additional support the students need.


Posted in Initial assessment; the student experience

What questions to ask?

May 10th, 2009 by Angela Rees

The plan is to get the student perspective, find out what assessment is carried out and how the results benefit them. I have students who sat through literacy screening in September and still haven’t had the follow up support they need 8 months later. Maybe I work for a particularly bad example, maybe initial assessment is just another hoop to jump through, but why bother collecting the data if you’re not going to use it for the benefit of your students?

If I use the Ofsted criteria as a guide, what questions should I be asking the students?

Specialist staff? Who carries out the assessment? Course lecturer, personal tutor, specialist, online, self assessment?

Appropriate time? Start of the course? Interview?

Starting point, learning plan? Is it relevant, are the targets attainable, is it updated regularly?

Screening for literacy/numeracy?

Results, feedback?

Appropriate support?

What tools already exist for evaluating an initial assessment policy? This one from QIA helps staff to discuss initial assessment; http://excellence.qia.org.uk/media/attachments/108534/Initial-Assessment-Tool-v6.pdf

I’m off to play around with surveymonkey.com


Posted in Initial assessment; the student experience

Searching for literature to review

May 10th, 2009 by Angela Rees

The majority of available literature on the topic of initial assessment consists of policy documents aimed at providers of ESOL and Basic Skills education. There have been a number of government initiatives in the UK aimed at improving standards in literacy and numeracy.

The QCA says schools with half decent admissions procedures are the ones which will adequately identify support needs;  http://www.qca.org.uk/qca_7143.aspx

Ofsted www.excellencegateway.org.uk recommends “STL” as example of good practice… so off I went to Google STL; http://www.stltraining.co.uk/ and then emailed someone from STL to enquire about their assessment policy. One month on and I’ve heard nothing.

Anyway, the general guidance from Ofsted is that good practice in initial assessment must have;

  • Team approach to support
  • Detailed initial assessment
  • ILPs

What do their inspectors look out for?…

http://excellence.qia.org.uk/page.aspx?o=11F8361F-F327-4D61-BF27-43190802FECD

So now we know.


Posted in Initial assessment; the student experience

Hello World!

May 10th, 2009 by Angela Rees

I figured that keeping a research journal hidden away on my desktop was no use to anyone, not even me. So here it is in all its lovely researcheryness.


Posted in Dissertation distractions ;-)
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    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


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