Offered as a pilot program in April 2018, the Waterloo Assessment Institute (WAI) focuses on the assignment as a means of assessing student learning. Through peer feedback and guided work time, this intensive two-day retreat at the Delta Hotel Waterloo helps individuals and program teams to redesign key assignments in their courses. Save the date for the next WAI: April 11 and 12, 2019.
By the end of the Institute, participants will leave with
- a redesigned assignment based on two rounds of feedback from peers and consultation with teaching and learning consultants.
- a refined rubric or set of criteria with which to assess the assignment in their local context.
Whether you are an individual seeking to improve an assignment, or a team seeking to link an assignment or assignments "horizontally" (across courses in a term) or "vertically" (across courses in different terms or years), the WAI provides you with space, time, expertise, and peer feedback. Space is limited so please apply by December 14, 2018!
We are following several frameworks in the design and delivery of the WAI:
- The Instructional Skills Workshop peer feedback model, adapted to provide feedback on assignments rather than on lesson planning and delivery.
- The Design Charrette model offered for several years by the National Institute on Learning Outcomes Assessment.
- Alignment between outcomes, activities, and assessments in course design, as in our course design workshops and Teaching Excellence Academy.
Application deadline: Friday, December 14, 2018
Notification of acceptance: Thursday, January 17, 2019
Submission of materials: Thursday, March 14, 2018
Hotel booking deadline: TBA
Fee deadline: TBA
Schedule and costs
|8:30||Introduction to the model, to each other|
|9:00||Small-group peer feedback, Individual/Team revision plan|
|12:45||Optional thematic sessions, work time|
|1:45||Consultation time, work time|
|4:30||Free time/ dinner on own|
|8:30||Breakfast plenary: Rubrics and Assessment Criteria|
|9:00||Work time: aligning assessment criteria and assignment guidelines|
|9:30||Small-group peer feedback, Revision plan check|
|1:00||Consultation time, work time|
|2:30||Final small-group check-in: present work done and next steps|
|3:30||Closing plenary: when you return to your office... what next?|
Delta Hotel, Erb St. Waterloo
Individual participants or team leads apply for the institute online. Upon acceptance, participants submit a draft of their assignment document as it appears to students, along with a context statement about the course (or courses) and program in which it occurs, and the relevant outcomes served. Any rubrics or assessment criteria should also accompany the assignment guidelines. Questions? Email Trevor Holmes at Waterloo's Centre for Teaching Excellence.
- Why is an Assessment Institute about assignments only?
- Assignments can be thought of as the key location where content and outcomes come together in a professor's teaching labour. From a student's point of view, the assigned work is what tells them where to put effort. We could use "assessments" to name all the places where students show what they know in ways that we (and they) can see it. However, "assignment" generally flags a difference from rote memory examinations, and we are explicitly thinking about going beyond these.
- What are some of the benefits to instructors who take two full days away from other work in order to attend the WAI?
- Peer review of scholarly work is a norm in academia, and getting expert feedback on one's work strengthens it. We also think that a redesigned assignment can serve many personal and institutional goals, including encouraging integrity / preventing plagiarism, engaging learners and teachers alike, increasing confidence and enjoyment in grading, and linking intentionally into wider curriculum.
- How will this help students?
- Students benefit from added clarity of course goals and assessment criteria. Assignments can be (though they need not be) redesigned to encourage "Authentic Assessment" in which practices from the discipline are closely mimicked or even enacted, improving deep and meaningful learning. Redesigned assignments can also help students see for themselves where they are as learners, encouraging the too-often-ignored "metacognitive" elements of learning.
- What are "thematic" sessions?
- Depending on what the participants are seeking (based on their application forms and other feedback in advance), we will arrange short (20-30 minute) workshops and presentations on concepts or techniques that support particular assignment redesign. Examples might be academic integrity, team projects or peer evaluation, authentic assessment, universal design of instruction, portfolio learning, High Impact Practices.