Mid-module summative assessment components can distract students from their learning activities, a significant issue when learning is focussed within a short block delivery schedule. Here we explore what we might mean by ‘distracting’ and ‘integrated’ summative assessment tasks.
Expecting a student to complete a full essay will involve students taking time to polish their presentation and ensure well-formed academic writing and referencing. This significant task will take priority over any learning activities set out for the week in which the essay is due. Similarly, full reports presentations and other complete pieces will require students to pay attention to polishing their submission and away from other learning.
Setting an exam or TCA within a module will encourage students to prioritise their efforts on preparing for this component. Unless the preparation for the component is clearly integral to the planned learning, students will be distracted and valuable learning time will be lost.
Learning outcomes associated with higher order thinking can often be assessed by asking students to respond concisely (possibly through a TCA) to a number of problems, scenarios or questions. Practice questions can be provided, with opportunities for discussion and peer feedback, as constructive learning activity in advance. Summative submissions can be easy to mark quickly thus allowing speedy production of feedback for students.
Particularly for higher levels, allocate (through negotiation if possible) specific topics to each student and require them to produce an annotated bibliography and overall summary. Allocating a short period of time for this, and making the focus the contents rather than the style, would encourage a focus on the learning activity. This work would be allocated a low but meaningful weighting, and students would build upon this to create their final module assessment.
Through the module students are asked to produce and submit a series of unpolished short written pieces. These are shared for mutual learning, and students are asked to construct their module assessment through the combination of these pieces (at which stage the students can respond to any feedback received, reflect further learning gained since initial writing, and create a polished piece for submission)