A co-creation approach with students as partners in learning and assessment can help to make teaching, learning and assessment more effective and enjoyable for both students and lecturers. Co-creation acknowledges that teaching and learning endeavours are shared with, as opposed to done to, students (Cook-Sather et al., 2014). A Students as Partners (SaP) approach recognises that working with students as partners can enhance their agency and ownership of the process (Ní Bheoláin et al., 2020). It can also enhance their current learning and their life-long learning skills. It requires a mind shift, both on the part of the academic and the student. The academic needs to be open to change and recognise that students maybe more capable than is sometimes assumed. From the student perspective, they need to learn to be more active in the learning process and may need support in this regard.
This paper presents two case studies that have used this approach successfully. The first is based on a transversal skills module and the second is based on Challenge Based Learning (CBL) module on topics in innovative and disruptive technologies.
In the first case study, the 3rd year students were given a choice on their topic and a scaffolded approach to assessment (with elements of self-, peer- and lecturer feedback) was adopted throughout the module. The module was delivered in an intense three-week period, immediately before students went out on work placement and the aim of the module was to equip them with the necessary skills (technical) communication skills to function competently in the work environment. In the second case study, the 4th year students were able to decide on an area of interest in the intersection of technology and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They were given choice on the format of their submissions throughout the module and the breadth and/or depth they wished to investigate as part of the CBL within the module. Both modules were 100% continuous assessment, with a particular focus on scaffolded, authentic assessment. Interactive Oral (IO) assessment were held at the end of the module as part of the authentic approach. The IO assessments enabled the academic and the students to discuss their learnings and work in a realistic scenario that enabled the students to demonstrate their knowledge in a more holistic manner than a traditional exam.
The feedback from the students on this approach has been positive and they have embraced having the element of choice in topic and format. For example, students have submitted traditional written reports, slides, voice over slides, infographics and podcasts to showcase their work. Some students noted positive aspects of this approach (“I liked how we were free to choose the subject of the presentation ourselves … It felt easier to write and present something I have a genuine interest in”) and even enjoying the assessment (“I also liked the IO session, it was dynamic and enjoyable”). This paper provides two examples of how a co-creation, partnership approach has made learning more engaging.