Assessing WIL

The variable nature of WIL necessitates flexible assessment to equitably capture the different opportunities and pathways through which students may achieve the desired learning outcomes 8.1, 8.2. Assessment conveys value and influences where students focus their effort, so careful design of assessment is paramount to student learning 8.4.

Designing standards-based assessment accommodates the diversity of student experiences by allowing varied portrayal of achievement against holistic standards and criteria. It permits students to create individualised artefacts that represent what they have achieved. This kind of assessment is dual-purpose – it can be used both for grading purposes and to provide students with evidence of achievement, skills and understanding, that they might later use for other purposes, such as evidencing their capabilities to employers 8.5.

Industry involvement in assessment
Involvement of industry partners in the design and delivery of assessment can be motivating for students 6.8 and contributes to the authenticity and validity of the assessment 8.1. Involving industry partners in assessment design, judgement and the provision of feedback is ideal but the capacity, needs and constraints of organisations will vary and the degree of involvement must be negotiated with each industry partner 2.3. Ways in which industry partners can be involved in assessment include:

  • Identifying tasks that graduates are involved in at their organisation;
  • Providing standards and criteria against which performance might be assessed;
  • Providing examples of the types of skills and experience expected of potential employees;
  • Ensuring that assessment reflects the complexity of the workplace;
  • Providing formative feedback to students;
  • Assessing student work or performance 8.1, 8.6.
 
Thinking outside the box
 
Industry partners can provide rich, contextualised feedback and insights on student performance that complement those provided by the teaching team. For example, in a capstone unit from Deakin University’s School of Engineering, students work in teams to design a solution to a problem provided by an industry partner. As the client, the industry partner assesses the outcome of the project, including whether the solution addresses their problem and needs. The academic running the unit assesses the process by which students arrived at the final outcome, including how the team worked together, and how they draw on learning from their course to tackle the problem (rather than on the solution itself).

Example from Paul Collins, Industry in the Classroom, Deakin University

 
Where industry partners are involved in assessing the standard of student work or performance, discussing the standards and expectations with them is vital. While industry supervisors working in accredited fields might have a lot of experience assessing students’ performance against industry standards, this is rarely the case in science. Providing a detailed yet flexible assessment rubric can help industry partners provide targeted feedback and marks, and increase fairness and consistency in assessment 8.1. Developing or adapting the rubric in consultation with industry partners is better still and will help to ensure that the assessment criteria are appropriate and incorporate relevant workplace standards and requirements. In many cases, organisations will have processes in place for providing feedback to employees, and these may be used to inform the provision of feedback to students 3.9, .
 
Sample rubric: Supervisor assessment of intern – Monash University
This rubric is used to guide discussions between students and their internship supervisors at the mid-point of the internship and again at the end of the internship.
 
ACEN provide advice for talking to industry partners about assessment:

 
Reflection and self-evaluation
Reflection is required to evaluate performance and increase productivity in any workplace. In science, it is also integral to the iterative process through which problems are solved through the investigation of multiple lines of inquiry. Yet, it is often under-utilised and rarely made explicit in science teaching 3.10. It is also a capability that needs to be developed because many students find it challenging 3.11. Creating opportunities for students to reflect on and assess their own performance can help to make these activities more habitual 9.1.
 

Ways to encourage reflection
Reflective accounts 
Examples:

  • reflective journal
  • critical incident analysis
Writing reflective accounts can help students to:

  • review their experiences,
  • evaluate their effectiveness,
  • describe their learning and skill development,
  • identify gaps in their skills and knowledge,
  • develop a plan to address these gaps 8.7, 9.2.
Rubrics and frameworks 
Examples:

  • Gibb’s Reflective Cycle – Description, Feelings, Evaluation, Analysis, Conclusion, Action Plan 3.12
  • STARES – Situation, Task, Action, Result, Evaluation (of actions and subsequent outcomes), Strategies (for improvement) 9.2
  • The 6 A’s: Acknowledgement, Analysis, Assessment, Application, Action and Articulation 9.3
Providing a rubric or a framework for reflection can ease student anxiety and help students to develop a capacity for reflective practice and self-assessment 9.3, 9.1, 8.8.
Video and audio recordings Viewing or listening to recordings can prompt students’ memories of what they were thinking and feeling at a particular time. This provides the opportunity to discuss alternative courses of action, and to provide feedback on performance 3.12.
Career development artefacts
Examples:

  • ePortfolios
  • Job applications and interviews
  • Skills audit
  • Elevator pitch
    Preparing job-related artefacts requires students to reflect on their capabilities and areas for development, and link their capabilities and experience to future work 9.4, 8.1.

     
    Portfolios
    Students can be encouraged to collate and curate information and artefacts that evidence their capabilities and achievements in digital spaces or portfolios 8.1. In addition to demonstrating what they can do, portfolios can help students to:

    • reflect on their experiences and capabilities;
    • demonstrate their generic or ‘soft’ skills, such as communication and teamwork;
    • integrate learning from their course with other experiences;
    • develop their ability to promote themselves to employers 9.4, 8.3, 8.1.

     
    Students can continue to develop and update their portfolio over time, and share this with prospective employers. Portfolios are particularly useful for assessing WIL as they allow for the variability of the WIL experience, and can be tailored to the student’s desired career pathway 8.3. However, for portfolios to add to the learning experience, students need to understand why they are creating the portfolio and have access to appropriate technology, guidance and support throughout the process. Without this understanding, students can take a surface-level approach and simply collect artefacts, rather than curating and reflecting upon their learning 6.8, 8.9.
     

     
    Thinking outside the box
    The ‘Me in a Minute’ strategy was developed at Deakin University to engage students with their employability. Students choose three graduate learning outcomes to focus on and produce a one-minute video pitching their knowledge, capabilities and experience to prospective employers.Each video closes with an invitation to connect with the student on LinkedIn. The University has created resources to help students to produce their own videos and hosts a YouTube channel on which the videos are published. The videos are also an assessment requirement in some units. Students can share their video through digital networks to market themselves to prospective employers, but report that even the creation of the video is beneficial as it prompts reflection and helps them develop a ‘pitch’.
     
    Want to know more? Read Jorre de St Jorre, Johnson and O’Dea (2017), watch Professor Beverley Oliver describe Me in a Minute or check out the Me in a Minute Youtube channel.
     

    Career learning and artefacts
    WIL assessment can also incorporate tasks that help students develop other employment-related skills, like writing a CV or job application, or practising interview skills. This type of learning is covered in more detail elsewhere . This learning can be scaffolded throughout a degree. For example, in earlier years, students can be tasked with identifying jobs they will be qualified for upon completion of their degree, or required to complete a skills audit to identify the capabilities they possess or need to develop further. Later-year students can be challenged to articulate their career identity.

     
    Assessment – key resources

    • Boud, D., & Soler, R. (2016). Sustainable assessment revisited. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 400-413. doi:10.1080/02602938.2015.1018133
    • Gibbs, G. (2010). Using assessment to support student learning. Leeds Metropolitan University. Retrieved from https://portal.uea.ac.uk/documents/6207125/8588523/using-assessment-to-support-student-learning.pdf

     
     

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