First Year Refinement

Revisiting the Vision

We have reviewed our mission statement and refocused it towards liaison with other universities in the collection of data and its publication in order to facilitate the improvement of the future student experience.
Our revised mission is to research how universities in the UK, and internationally, use diverse assessment methods at Masters level, with the ambition of identifying 'fit-for-purpose' approaches suitable for different contexts, subjects and student bodies.
To achieve this we will utilise students to assist in the production and publication of case studies to support the dissemination outputs of the project, which will be primarily written and disseminated by the project bid leader.
To support the research phase we will use both members of the project team and experienced students researchers to undertake the initial interviews so as to assure consistency and depth of research.

Reviewing Intended outcomes

We want the sector to have more awareness of practice in the assessment of taught Masters level and for this to provide a catalyst for future discussion and development of assessment in this area.
The beneficiaries are, in the short term, the students but in the longer term academic staff who we hope will be able to use our findings to network with colleagues and to further develop the assessment within their taught Masters programmes. We aim to improve Masters courses at Leeds Met & elsewhere by proposing and delivering ‘fit-for-purpose’ approach to assessment at Masters level, learning from similar work at undergraduate level.
Our pre-project research told us that there is limited literature relating to assessment on taught masters programmes available within the community and our success would be indicated by an increase in well-informed publications as a result of our project.

Reflecting on activities and outputs

During the year we have: 
  • Developed a framework for data collection by researchers
  • Briefed and trained students to enable them to undertake the research
  • Purchased recording equipment for use by researchers
  • Made available details of the project, the interview questions and recordings of sample interviews
  • Identified individuals in HE institutions in the UK who have agreed to participate in the project
  • Conducted the first stage of interviews with colleagues in the UK
  • Produced a number of student written stories relating to the interviews
During the summer period a journalism student placement worked with the project team to increase the number of interviews, since the number produced had been fewer than we had hoped for. We held a meeting of the Advisory Panel/Steering Group meeting, in March, and received helpful feedback on how to maximise outputs for our research. This group of critical friends caused us to interrogate further the planned basic methodology of the project, reducing reliance on many individual students and instead concentrating on using fewer who will have the opportunity to become more experienced and more capable.

Reflecting on Timescales

The timescales remain realistic in terms of time to collect the data. They are, however, as risk if interviewees’ priorities change or there are staff movements with the sector.

Initial plans to use a student cohort as researchers resulted in progress being difficult to monitor due to their remoteness from the core team. This situation has been reviewed and in future students will undertake research during a placement in the project office, which will focus students’ priorities towards the project on certain days. This will allow the project team to monitor progress more closely and have the interview results readily available.

The use of staff researchers will allow for easier monitoring of progress throughout the life of the project. 

Critical Reflection

The project is designed to increase the pedagogic understanding of how students at Masters level are assessed, thereby providing a compendium of assessment approaches from which staff teaching at this level can select fit-for-purpose approaches to assessment for particular contexts and cohorts (Brown in Brown and Glasner(1999), Brown & Knight(1994)). Our approach in the first year over relied on the use of students as resources, as Healey Jenkins and other indicate that this is likely not only to provide useful data but also to enable students concerned to significantly improve their own pedagogic achievements. Our approach, going forward, is the ensure that the primary aim of the project, to increase the pedagogic understanding of how students at Masters level as assessment is paramount and that students are given an opportunity to contribute within the project office environment.