Weighing a butterfly: How can we authentically assess progress in proficiency in English as a second language?

Teaching and Learning Conference

Workshop Presenter: Peter Ward

English for speakers of other languages is different from other subjects and in many ways, the medium is the message. When assessing English language proficiency, we are interested not so much in what learners are saying but in how they are saying it. Consequently, all assessment is authentic.  

A communicative approach which maximises students’ speaking is widely regarded as the most effective method of learning language. However, testing often focuses on written test papers. Furthermore, overt, isolated testing is not teaching or learning.  Weighing the pig doesn’t make it fatter. We as teachers are not fattening students, we are leading their learning.

How can we help language learners see and hear their progress, their strengths and their areas for improvement?

How do different cultures view tests and grades and how do we interact with this?

How can we lead the learning of the medium of language so that when students progress into a University course where they are contributing orally and submitting work in their second or third language, it is their message that will be noticed and assessed, not the medium in which they are producing it?

Attendees at this workshop will take part in activities commonly used in communicative language learning, involving discussion in pairs and small groups. Together we will look to answer some of the questions posed above. Minimalist image-focussed pechakucha-style slides will be used.  

Peter Ward teaches at AUT International House and Rutherford College Community Education Centre as well as being involved with other English language testing organisations. Originally from Christchurch, Peter has taught English as a second language for twenty years in New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Spain. He likes people, ideas and words.

“It’s not all about me” – Authentic assessment for teamwork skills and attributes: A work in progress

Teaching and Learning Conference

Workshop Presenters: Kay Hammond, Jane Morgan & Helen Gaeta

Higher education institutions commonly prepare future healthcare workers to engage in increasingly complex, healthcare environments through interprofessional education (IPE). A vital component of successfully providing quality healthcare is for workers from several health care disciplines to work collaboratively in teams. Knowing how students learning of teamwork capabilities progresses is important for designing appropriate learning and assessment experiences.  

Our study used a longitudinal approach by obtaining students’ experiences, perceptions and developing understanding of teamwork from the start of their undergraduate studies with little teamwork experience, through to completion of five semesters of group or teamwork projects. Through focus groups and interviews, we explored student learning in terms of their actual experiences, their focus at designated points of their undergraduate group work, and the meaning they attributed to being a member of a team. 

Our findings revealed that student perceptions of successful teamwork changed over time from a focus on outcome-based goals such as grades and equal participation, to an expanded concept of developing relationships and working with personal differences. By mapping these processes of learning over time, educators can gain a clearer understanding of various influences and experiences that impact on student learning in teamwork. This understanding can be used to develop authentic assessments to enable development of interprofessional teamwork capabilities. 

Attendees at this workshop will engage in activities that explore authentic assessment possibilities for developing interprofessional teamwork capabilities. Facilitators will share their research findings and in small groups, attendees will discuss one of the three progressive learning dimensions, focusing on their own/colleagues’ experiences of promoting/observing student engagement in teamwork in their work contexts. Attendees will then discuss the development of an authentic assessment process that enables students to experience, reflect on, and develop teamwork capabilities.

Dr Kay Hammond, Jane Morgan and Helen Gaeta are Senior Lecturers in Interprofessional Health Studies. Kay is passionate about teaching and learning. She combines her experiences as a learning advisor and faculty staff member to develop resources and experiences to assist students’ learning and their sense of becoming a professional. Jane develops, implements and evaluates interprofessional education initiatives, across the Faculty, to support students’ learning with from and about each-other for collaborative health care practice. Helen’s educational philosophy emerges from her research in cognitive neuroscience. She believes brain networks, underpinning new learning, are best exercised to develop when a person is placed in an immersive experiential space. This informs her teaching practice.

Students Engaging in Authentic Interprofessional Learning and Assessment Opportunities Using The Values Exchange (Vx), a Socratic, web-based Learning Community

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenters: Amanda B. Lees & Mandy Shaver

Should Counties Manukau District Health Board’s current pilot incentivising vaccination by giving petrol vouchers and nappies to some families be extended or stopped?

Should there be wider use of robots in rest home care?

Using the Values Exchange (Vx), a Socratic web-based learning community, students in HEAL708 Professional Practice and Ethics are offered authentic interprofessional learning and assessment opportunities. Using a range of philosophical frameworks and a social media type interface, students explore the ethical complexity of present and future healthcare practice, enabling deep thinking and with shared access to the responses of others, unique ways of learning with and from others. 

By using Vx, our goal is to inspire technological savvy, ethically conscious, and culturally intelligent students -to create true diversity of thought. Students are encouraged to question a point of view and to reason through their arguments, acknowledging their emotions in an open, genuine safe virtual space. Their reflections and feedback reveal increased confidence in dealing with ethical issues and an appreciation for the varied perspectives of their peers. 

Like authenticity, the view, principles, priorities, and interests of New Zealanders and the global population change over time. Authenticity is not static and not something remaining in the past. Authenticity is a present individual awareness developed by the overcoming of obstacles, the navigation of uncertainties in the workplace, and the fulfilment of being valued in meaningful interpersonal relationships. Without the ability to recognise the needs of New Zealanders, health care systems become stuck in ideological dogma, failing to address the needs of the most vulnerable and to adapt to the values of its citizens. 

Attendees at this showcase will be introduced the Vx learning community and invited to deliberate on some of the ethical issues our students have been recently considering. The presenters will share ways in which assessments and cycles of formative feedback have offered authentic opportunities for student-directed learning. 

Amanda B. Lees teaches Healthcare ethics to Health Science students and health professionals. She embraces educational technologies and contributes to the Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning. Social Scientist Mandy Shaver teaches ethics to Health, Fitness, and Science students and has instructed yoga for over 15 years.

Board Games as Authentic Assessments: Keep Learner Fears in Perspective

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Patsi Davies

Authentic assessment is ‘a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills [1]. Board games are one such form of assessment. AUT offers Tobacco Control (HPRM705), a compulsory paper in the BHSc Health Promotion/Public Health major. Students who are going to work in tobacco control, whether it is in policy, education, or smoking cessation, will deal with risks, strategies, and consequences and will collaborate with their peers. 

To address these employability factors, the Tobacco Control written assessment was replaced with a ‘Group Initiative’, where learners design, play and teach others board games based on the game of Snakes and Ladders: a group game of strategies (ladders), risks (snakes) and consequences. Class members initially express the following concerns about this assessment: ‘Designing a board game is really different and scary’, ‘Working with our peers on a ‘new kind of assessment’ is a risk’, ‘Having minimal requirements for the game is not helpful’, ‘We are busy and it is hard to get group members together’, and ‘I am not the creative-type’, yet their final products reveal meaningful application of skills and knowledge – authentically linking assessment to the real world. 

Attendees at this showcase will be provided with examples of board games that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills and invited to reflect on the main fears that underpin the above concerns and to devise remedial actions.  

Patsi Davies teaches in Public Health. She believes that when learners create their own learning experiences, magic happens. Inspired by her rural school teachers, Patsi offers board games as an assessment; enabling teamwork, thinking, making, curiosity, whimsy, and joy that is visible. Patsi received the VC’s Teaching Excellence Award, and is a Senior Fellow, Ako Aronui.

[1] Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing student learning through online faculty development, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 1-7. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/documents/vol1_no1_mueller_001.pdf

Can assessment be authentic if you ‘don’t believe in learning outcomes’?

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Susan Shaw

For many years the AUT commitment to ‘standards-based’ assessment distinguished it among higher education institutions. Our vision was that quality learning outcomes, learning opportunities and assessment events would be aligned to provide relevant and meaningful learning experiences and continually refined through a reflexive design process. The learning outcomes themselves can be seen as a contractual relationship between learners and teachers that evolve to reflect the content and context in which students learn, interact and are ultimately employed. The outcomes should also inform educational design and practice, enabling them to be authentically assessed. Despite this philosophical approach and intention views that learning outcomes are irrelevant bureaucratic statements unrelated to assessment remain to some degree. This showcase is part of a wider project to develop a holistic appreciation of educational practice, in which learning outcomes and assessments are seen as design features that evolve to facilitate learning. The analysis of a large dataset tracking the development of learning outcomes and assessments, and the rationale for changes, across a Faculty over several years provides insights into how constructive alignment is enacted. The findings provide a conversational catalyst for sharing strategies and developing a vocabulary to encourage authentic approaches to assessment in the context of reflective curriculum design. 

Attendees at this showcase will engage in an interactive experience of snapshots that illustrate the alignment between learning outcomes and assessments. Key questions about authenticity arising from these snapshots will be posed as catalysts for brief, focussed discussions. Attendees should gain tools in the form of strategies and vocabulary for facilitating conversations with educators about constructive alignment and its contribution to authentic assessment. 

Susan Shaw is the Associate Dean (Academic) of Health and Environmental Sciences at AUT, with responsibility for educational practice (curriculum design, teaching practice, and student learning experience). Her team has developed innovative tools for tracking the evolution of curricula and managing large data sets relating to student success and progression.  

Enhancing my practice … Yeah right! An evaluation of authentic assessment design vs experience in the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Lyn Lewis

Student participants in the School of Education Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education engage in ‘authentic’ assessments to enhance their practice as research-informed teachers and their research as practitioner researchers. Two types of assessments are designed for each paper: (1) extending scholarship of theoretically-informed practice through high level asynchronous discussions on Blackboard and (2) focussing on practice-related issues in curriculum, assessment and pedagogy through critical inquiry into own practice with a view to provoke new and innovative ways of ‘being’ a higher education teacher/practitioner researcher. Assessment outcomes focus on producing artefacts which apply to own discipline and enhance teaching and learning practice. 

Attendees at this showcase will hear from staff (as current students in the papers) as they evaluate the meaning and role of the intended authentic assessment for enhanced practice/research. Staff participants will respond to and debate some of the authentic assessment indicators (presented in the TLC call for submissions) with reference to their experience of the assessments in the PGCert HE programme: simulating real-life situations; impact beyond the classroom; fidelity of the task to the real world; creation of a polished product; development of higher order thinking, reflection; peer and self-assessment; enabling wide, diverse and novel approaches. 

Lyn Lewis is the Head of School of Education and the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Culture and Society and is currently co-ordinating the PGDipHE. Lyn has a particular interest in the nexus of practitioner-research/research-informed teaching. 

Authentic Conversations for Authentic Assessments

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Smita Singh

Smita’s journey to designing authentic assessments was born out of a restlessness that she experienced both in and out of the classroom environment. “Every day I walked past the growing number of fellow citizens living on the streets within less than a 5 km radius of my classroom. Every day I saw two kinds of Auckland – one that mostly thrives in places where we work and live and the other that struggles to survive on cold, wet cement. I wondered why our willingness to ‘act’ and ‘serve’ our communities remains mostly trapped underneath intellectual discussions, PowerPoint presentations, journals, textbooks, and YouTube videos? I became increasingly restless with not having an answer to this question and started to see my classroom as a burial ground because it was mostly unresponsive to what was happening out in the real world. The assessment submission box seemed like a morgue – here, essays, lifeless in their response to real-life, community challenges were collected, stored, identified, and processed. I had to do something to change this.”  By voicing her concerns and engaging in authentic conversations with colleagues, Smita was able to acknowledge her own involvement in the problem she wanted to solve and generate change. Smita’s emotive response caused her to shift both the delivery of her content and design of assessments.

Attendees at this showcase will be exposed to examples of new authentic assessments and voiced perspectives and feedback from academic colleagues, students, industry and local community members (co-presenters). The presenters will indicate ‘tangible’ social impact through their experiences with assessments, lessons and dilemmas on this shared journey.

Dr Smita Singh is paper coordinator and Lecturer for Entrepreneurship courses across different levels and degrees at AUT. She also enjoys supervising Masters and PhD students and has examined and supervised several dissertations and thesis to successful completion.

Creative Futures: Living with Parkinson’s Disease – Experiential learning beyond the classroom

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Helen Gaeta

A growing body of research evidence shows better health outcomes occur when health care is client-centred within an interprofessional framework. Health students who adopt this health care model are likely to be sought after in the health workforce, as the future drivers of better health care practice. 

This showcase reports on a work-integrated learning programme that offers health students the opportunity to learn experientially within this framework. The programme is delivered at the AUT Integrated Health, using a co-design approach within an interprofessional framework. 

Students from several health disciplines work collaboratively with clinical educators and clients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to co-design a programme that empowers the clients to live with Parkinson’s disease. Previous iterations of the programme have used a client-centred, interprofessional framework. The current iteration adds a co-design feature, which enhances practice of a client-centred philosophy. This approach challenges students to apply their theoretical knowledge, to tailor a whole person approach of individualised care. 

The co-design community is comprised of twelve students from four health disciplines, four staff members and six clients diagnosed with PD. Collaboratively they plan, implement and deliver the programme Creative Futures: Living with Parkinson’s Disease. Each session ends with a discussion on changes/adaptations for the next session and reflection on the current iteration through forward thinking. Students engage in academic work prescribed by the work-integrated learning programme, overseen by their health discipline. At the least, each student writes weekly reflections on the clinical sessions. These become part of their e-portfolios available to them for use when applying for future employment.

Attendees at this showcase will experience a flipped classroom model, beginning with a challenge for the audience to co-design the structure of the session, drawing on their own and varying disciplines. The flipped approach sets up a client-centred, co-design community, reflective of employment practice.  

Helen Gaeta is a Senior lecturer in Interprofessional Health Studies. Her educational philosophy emerges from her research in cognitive neuroscience. She believes brain networks underpinning new learning are best exercised to develop when a person is placed in an immersive experiential space. This informs her teaching practice.

Authentic Assessment deserves Authentic Feedback

Teaching and Learning Conference

Showcase Presenter: Rouxelle de Villiers

Feedback is generally regarded as a crucial and powerful instructional technique to improve knowledge and skills within a vast range of development interventions – both in educational and in organizational learning, development and coaching situations. Within the substantial body of feedback intervention research, results on the efficacy of feedback vary dramatically, ranging from negative to neutral to positive. This showcase, will address the scholars’ call for improved conceptual models. Further, the showcase will summarize a conceptual framework studied over a period of three years, that takes into account the multifaceted role of feedback as well as the complex nature and structure of feedback within the contexts of the classroom. The model considers educators roles as enablers, and facilitator and for post-graduates educators’ roles as supervisors, research and career coaches. 

Attendees at this showcase will learn of a framework of five constructs – covering seven well-tested and evidence-based principles for constructive feedback interventions. Attendees will be asked to contribute examples from their own “best-practices” to build the model out further. The discussion and analysis will conclude by identifying guidelines for educators and graduate coaches and academic supervisors on the application of the model.

Rouxelle de Villiers is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Sales and was the recipient of the 2019 AUT Excellence in Learning and Pedagogical Research Award. Rouxelle’s research focusses on andragogy, with a particular emphasis on inter-personal and thinking competencies. Rouxelle has published numerous papers on student engagement, authentic assessment and effective feedback. Rouxelle aspires to stimulate students to excel and remain inspired, life-long learners.

Real world learning for real world practice

Teaching and Learning Conference

Workshop Presenter: Emma Rawson

In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. This powerful concept has been supported by educational research showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves [1]. 

This workshop aims to highlight authentic and collaborative Te Ao Māori Approaches to teaching and learning in Māori Health Promotion that enables students to develop skills and projects that can be directly transferred to on the job real world up to date best practice across inter-professional health disciplines. This workshop will highlight a number of projects developed by 3rd year Māori Health Promotion students for their in semester assessments that have immediate application possibilities. This workshop will feature a partnership facilitation approach including myself as their lecturer and a group of students from MAOH701. 

Attendees at this workshop will be taken on a journey of significant learning opportunities and engagement styles that have roots in Te Ao Māori, the Māori world that can be utilised by anyone to encourage the best outcomes for real world application of learning, and project development for stepping straight into employment. Tips and tricks for a wide range of educators and disciplines will be shared. 

Emma Rawson is a Lecturer in Interprofessional Health Studies. She is of Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi te Rangi Iwi. She is passionate about Public Health. Emma has a wide range of professional experience including over 14 years in Māori Health, Public Health, Health Promotion and Maori Responsiveness training. 

[1] Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling : best evidence synthesis. Ministry of Education. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat05020a&AN=aut.b12626211&site=eds-live