Innovating in Assessment in the Arts and Humanities, 5th June 2019

The session was organised by the Faculty Learning and Teaching Group as an opportunity to share and celebrate some of the innovative approaches to assessment and feedback that are being developed in the Faculty’s Departments. Contributions were made from five different Departments focusing mainly on diversifying assessment and feedback formats and embedding employability and transferable skills.  Participants shared their insights into developing new approaches, and the processes of turning these ideas into reality and evaluating their effectiveness in context. The session provided a useful example of how activities providing a forum for staff to share their experiences can be of use in promoting conversations across and within Departments and Disciplines. It was recorded and University of York staff can view by clicking on the following link to the session recording (Opens in new window. University of York log-in required).

Brief summaries of each of the presentations follow, along with links to the resources that were shared during the event.

Aimée Little presented an overview of the assessments carried out within the YEAR centre (Archaeology) and focused on the benefits of experiential learning and authentic assessment on the development of transferable skills.  Key assessments involved the production of a documentary targeted at children and a series of team-based activities culminating in the development (and submission) of a journal article to a peer-reviewed journal.

The York Experimental Archaeology Research (YEAR) Centre

Martin Suckling described the approach within Music to providing students with choice in their mode of assessment between a focus on composition/orchestration; essay or performance and outlined some of the key benefits and challenges.  He also outlined some of the key benefits of a ‘masterclass’ workshop approach in supporting the assessment process.

Introductory slide from presentation.  Title: The magic of microtones: Maximising flexibility in assessment options.  The three key themes from the presentation are shown: Catskinning, Workshops and Case studies.
Maximising flexibility in assessment options in Music

Thomas Jochum-Critchley (Languages and Linguistic Sciences) provided an overview of the development of an authentic assessment linked to group projects work in German.  In groups, students were tasked with planning, promoting, organising and delivering a film screening for a German film.  Thomas outlined the context and implementation process before focusing on the development of the assessment method and criteria, describing how he balanced the product and process elements of the assessment and incorporated individual, peer and tutor-led elements into the process.  He also provided examples of student work and evaluation of the process.

Slide from the presentation entitled 'student work'. Examples of posters, videos, and web pages produced by students.
Presentation slide: Examples of student work

Nicoletta Asciuto and Deborah Russell outlined the development of portfolio assessments in English and Related Literature.  Firstly, Nicoletta described the embedding of portfolios within key modules of the Undergraduate programmes focusing on writing and critical theory and how their use connects formative development with the summative assessment to support the staging of Undergraduate writing skills through the programmes.  She outlined some of the key benefits of moving beyond the essay and providing opportunities to spread the assessment load throughout the programmes and also the challenges of encouraging ongoing ‘little and often’ engagement with lower-stakes assessment tasks. Deborah then set the use of portfolios in the broader context of assessment modes in English.  She focused on the ongoing importance of the essay as a core assessment method and emphasised the importance of student choice and independence in essay development. She then described the development of team projects and presentations in the ‘topic modules’ and the benefits for employability skills of developing such activities and promoting links with partner organisations. Finally, she outlined how an overall approach to diversification of assessment aims to support students to take the next steps in their career through building transferable portfolios of their work.

Slide from presentation – Textual description

In the final session, James Boaden from History of Art talked participants through an innovative approach to the development of visual analysis skills involving a curation ‘game’ encouraging students to evaluate art works and (anonymised) quotations about them and to explore different interpretive positions and possibilities for a curated exhibition.  He ended by considering the potential implications for how visual analysis is assessed within the Department.

Title slide - Gaming the seminar
Introductory slide: Gaming the seminar

After the sessions, Rob Shaw from the Programme Design and Learning Technology team in the Academic Support Office provided a short overview of some of the key support and resources available for assessment and feedback developments within Departments. He included links to resources as follows:

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