“Will you come to BALI with us?”: Building Assessment Literacy Initiative (BALI) – developing Assessment and Feedback resources through student-staff partnerships

William Carey and Cliona Hatano – Munster Technological University

‘Building Assessment Literacy Initiative’ (BALI) was selected by an international panel of T&L scholars to be a National Forum SATLE 2019 project at MTU. BALI was conceived to develop resources to support students and staff in the growth of competencies and capabilities in Assessment Literacy (AL). It brought an interdisciplinary approach to the co-creation of these resources, with student-staff partnership at its core. It sought to:

– improve understanding and practice of A&F across and between students / staff, and

– adopt an interdisciplinary approach to develop A&F Literacy resources that could translate across programmes

Over 18 months, the BALI team adopted a highly collaborative approach that supported staff and students to build a shared understanding of Assessment and Feedback Literacy through separate conversations and consultations to co-creation and partnership culminating in three teams, comprising of a mix of staff and students, that co-created innovative assessment and feedback resources and strategies.

More than 180 student hours and 100 staff hours were dedicated during the project to unpack and understand approaches to A&F literacy, and subsequently co-create resources. The project was inspired to undertake its work because assessment methods have a greater influence on student learning than any other single factor and potentially more important than teaching materials (Boud, 1988), due, in part that “students can escape bad teaching but they can escape bad assessment” (Boud, 1995).

We knew that developing effective learners and educators in relation to assessment and feedback, supports students’ evaluative ability, independence – and consequently easier transition post-graduation (Boud, 2009 / Boud et al., 2018). Equally we knew that adopting a partnership approach to L&T enhancement activity would yield more sustainable and impactful outcomes (Healey, Flint and Harrington, 2014).

Consequently, the project team sought to engage colleagues across MTU to act as project partners and enablers including our nationally recognised Le Chéile programme team.

Le Chéile has been operating since 2013 when CIT partnered with SPARQS (Scotland) to develop our student voice initiative, now comprising resources and processes to scaffold meaningful and progressive staff-student engagement activity including student-led projects, student-staff partnerships, solution-generating consultation workshops, and surveys. These enable deeper opportunities for engaging and listening, understanding perspectives on Teaching, Learning, Assessment and Student Engagement (TLASE) activity.

In the past 4 years, 1,480 students and 255 staff have engaged in Le Chéile activity – students report an increased sense of belonging and agency, staff report an uncovering of challenges/solutions not previously considered and all report a positive challenge to the perceptions of hierarchy, power and roles.

This session will share the findings from staff engagement and student consultation activities that were used to inform 3 student-staff partnership projects focussing on:

– Effective feedback/forward with large groups.

– Addressing the Emotional Aspect of Giving/Receiving Feedback

– Formats for giving feedback

It will conclude with how outcomes of BALI have now informed development of MTU’s SATLE 2020 Reimaging Assessment and Feedback Together (RAFT) project, that is engaging >30 staff and students across MTU to co-create module and programme A&F activity.