Assessments for Learning: A space for reflection and imagination

Showcase Presenter: Terry Weblemoe

Is there space for reflection and imagination in authentic assessment?

A challenge for any curriculum is authenticity regarding the requirements students will face in their, often unwitnessed, future practice. A client-centred approach requires critical imagination and empathy. Without reflection into realities of complex lived experiences, a practitioner’s ability to engage with future clients, with understanding and compassion, is unlikely. Our assignment asks first-year students to reflect on a significant communications event (personal or case study), its context and impact. Students analyse this event through relevant, age-appropriate psychosocial theory exploring the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects. They are then invited to consider as a future healthcare provider how and why they would adapt their own communications with someone of a similar age-stage and situation. This supports a reflective, informed way of working, using the Borton’s model of: ‘What’, So what’ and ’Now what’. This logic strategy situates reflecting on experiences as pivotal for constructing improved ways of working in the future. In each of the three progressive iterations, a 600-word assignment requests analysis using different sets of age-stages and contextual lenses. Marker comments emphasise constructive feedback intended to create a progressive improvement. This feedback-loop assists students to strengthen their meta-cognitive competencies, particularly a habit-forming consideration for reflection to inform practice, as well as improving academic skills. Being informed by the recall of past events that might then inform an unknown future, this assessment tests the boundaries of authentic assessment. In so doing, we accept that a client-centred approach means that every event will be unique. While the exact imagined communication performance described is unlikely, the required thinking process required (cognitive demand) would be similar: that of utilising critical reflection on the experience and context of self and others, and thereby providing strategic options of possibility. 

Attendees at this showcase will be encouraged to reflect on a specific personal communicative event that significantly impacted their professional practice. Then discuss how critical reflection and sharing of stories might be applied to other assessments. 

Terry L. Weblemoe is a Lecturer in the School of Interprofessional Health Studies. After travelling extensively in USA and Canada, Terry studied Anthropology and Nursing. After nursing in New York, Florida and Auckland, Terry completed MA(Anthro) and joined AIT/AUT University in 1999. Terry has interned at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication and is currently doing a PhD on how new nurses learn communication skills.