I was selected to join the University’s Assessment and Feedback working group in 2018. Its remit derives from University Senate and focuses on review, refreshment and/or development of new policies and associated guidance. Assessment and feedback is a strategic priority for enhancement because of student feedback, including the NSS. The working group was established to transform students’ experiences of assessment and to ensure fair, equitable and inclusive practice across the whole institution.
By the time the group was convened in 2018 I had already begun the process of transforming assessment and feedback practices within the institution leading the Strathclyde Teaching Excellence programme (STEP), putting Assessment for Learning at the heart, drawing on the work of Sambell and Boud, among others.
During the initial meetings of the group, I made substantial contributions to the working group’s function, advocating a scholarly approach and policy development focused on Assessment for Learning principles. As a direct result of my input the policy was evidence-based, making clear its rationale and detailing roles and responsibilities to ensure explicit signposting, something I knew was essential if the change envisaged was to be transformational. I provided leadership for the rollout and embedding of the policy.
The scope of this transformation was to be far-reaching, requiring input from a number of University teams. Clear to me was the need for a wide-ranging and integrated approach to supporting the embedding of the policy, engaging all stakeholders. Therefore, at an early stage, I met with all contributors to this, ensuring a common sense of purpose and acknowledging the key contributions of everyone. I then developed a strategy for the embedding of the policy, endorsed by the working group, which comprised support for staff and students through workshops, infographics, online learning modules, learning resources and drop-in support sessions. My approach was successful (see below) and remains effective under my direction, adapted as needed so teams can respond in an agile way to the changing needs of our learning community as the policies, procedures, and guidance continue to be embedded. The working group also remains in place, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to ensuring agile responses in changing environments.
The next step is to draw on my work in developing successful staff networks to champion the development of a community of practice, inclusive of staff and students, to further support the development of innovative practice in assessment and feedback within our learning and teaching communities.
For now, evidence of the success of the policy changes is found in NSS scores for assessment and feedback which have shown early signs of improvement since the policy was implemented. Notably, the number of individual subjects in the bottom quartile for this scale (Assessment and Feedback) has reduced from 17 to 10 since 2019, and that the % agree rate improved for question 10 (+1.6%) and question 11 (+0.7%) from 2019. (K5)
“Dr Savage led the transformation of staff development in teaching, learning and assessment fulfilling the needs of staff and students at this significant juncture of change within the sector […] as our institution […] fulfil its vision as a bold and innovative ‘place of useful learning’.”
Dr Lizann Bonnar, Academic Champion for Assessment and Feedback
“As student president, I seen a notable reduction in student complaints around assessment and feedback. This was extremely positive, as it showed that the changes in this policy really had a positive impact on students."
Strathclyde Student Union President Kayla Burns