Thursday, December 11, 2008

Conference Dinner Fish alive and well

We have a little something to remind us of the very successful ATN Assessment Conference here at the LTU at UniSA – two of the conference dinner table setting goldfish!

Many delegates were concerned at the fate of the fish, which formed a unique – if not controversial! – centrepiece at the National Wine Centre, where the conference dinner was held on Thursday 20th November. The goldfish were the brainchild of conference organiser Julea Crea, and certainly got many delegates talking over dinner. Though she joked on the night her cat would be well fed, all of the goldfish are alive and well, going to various homes with two of them here at the Learning & Teaching Unit.

The two LTU fish are about to retire to the large pond of LTU Deputy Director and songsmith Gavin Sanderson.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Songs of the conference continued...

Thanks to Alice, one of our student helpers, we also have a recording of the actual conference song as performed by a selection of delegates at the closing session.
Hats off to Gavin for this composition!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conference Presentations

Did you miss a presentation that you really wanted to see at the ATN Assessment conference?

Where possible we have uploaded the presentations for delegates to access in slideshare as a 'Presentation Pack".

If you change your mind about sharing your presentation, or you would like to add your presentation to this collection, please send an email to Diana Quinn at

You can also download the actual powerpoint slides for Sally Brown's or John Biggs and Catherine Tang's keynotes from the UniSA web site.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 2 - Songs from the conference

Re-live these priceless moments of the performance of the Songs of Assessment from the closing of the conference - thanks to Gavin for this hilarious contribution.

Sharing Constructive alignment

John Biggs and Catherine Tang have allowed us to share their presentation online.

They argue that to engage students in assessment the assessment piece needs to be constructively aligned to the intended learning outcomes.

Constructive Alignment is a design for facilitating student learning, which has become the framework for teaching and quality assurance in several countries. The ‘constructive’ aspect refers to the idea that students construct meaning through relevant learning activities; ‘alignment’ refers to a learning environment where teaching and learning activities, and assessment tasks, are linked or aligned to the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of a subject or programme. The key is that the ILOs state a learning activity, such as ‘explain’ or ‘apply’, which students are required to perform during learning and in assessment. In this session, we adopt a hands-on approach to defining outcomes and designing aligned teaching and assessment tasks. It is recommended that those attending come to the session with a specific subject they are teaching in mind.

Many thanks!

Feedback for Sally

A person who really missed out in this conference was Sally Brown.

Sally and her team at Leeds Met worked very hard that last week to deliver her keynote virtually and prepare a recorded back-up (which delegates were delighted to download a copy of on their usbs before they went home) - and all from a cold and grey Leeds and because of the time difference and time frame, often in the middle of the night.

But Sally wouldn't have gotten any feedback - the polycom cut out when the applause peaked in the auditorium and there was no opportuninty for informal feedback or sharing local examples by chatting in the breaks or at the Gala dinner.

Well here is your chance - post a comment to this blog and ask that question, clarify that confusion and share your experience with Sally about her ideas and presentation.

To refresh you, Sally's keynote argued that to engage students in assessment (our theme) you needed to have fit for purpose assessment, as she wrote in her abstract:

Effective assessment significantly and positively impacts on student learning, as I suggested in my Big Ideas posting on the conference blog. Assessment shapes student behaviour and the signals we give students through the assignments we set them can influence the extent to which they spend their time on task productively. A fit-forpurpose approach enables us to foster productive behaviours and establish good learning patterns, enabling our students not only to succeed at university, but also to become effective lifelong learners. This keynote will explore how we can achieve this as individuals, course teams and institutions.
You can view her slides below and download them through slideshare.

Sally Brown 2008
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to make a comment for Sally.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 1

This morning all the technology stars were in perfect alignment and we had the magic of seeing, hearing and interacting with a very much larger than life version of Sally Brown. Full points for Sally for sharing her passion and committment to this conference and assessment in general in by staying up until midnight UK time to be with us this morning.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

A big thanks to our students (pictured: Wal, Leonie and Alice) for their seemless management of all other things technological!

Diana and Andrea

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Information for delegates

Our delegates flying into Adelaide for the first time will find that the airport terminal is located about 15 minutes from the CBD, with airport shuttle buses operating regularly.

All delegates are invited to join us for some drinks and snacks at our Welcome Reception on Wednesday 19 th November from 5.00 to 7.00 pm. It will be held in the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery, located on the 3rd floor of the Hawke Building, City West Campus, UniSA, North Terrace. While you are there, take the opportunity to confirm your details at the Registration desk. The Registration desk will be staffed throughout the conference from 8 am.

A nearby student computer pool (GK 3-21) with 20 computers has also been booked and a guest log on will be available for delegates on the day prior to as well as the two days of the conference. See also the Staying Connected post.

The current program is now available on the web site. Do have a look as there are a range of interesting presentations, excellent keynote speakers, workshops and a poster session. We are very fortunate to have a close association with the Australian Learning and Teaching Council who are supporting assessment grant holders to participate in the conference.

The Conference proceedings will be available on a USB memory stick as a part of your registration materials (ISBN 978-0-646-50442-1). In the week following the conference the papers will be available online via the website. A hard copy of the Program and book of abstracts will also be part of your registration materials. The Copyright of the papers remains with the authors who have granted permission to the ATN assessment conference to publish their papers on the Web and in print. Authors are welcome to self-archive their papers.

Presenters please note the arrangements provided in an earlier post. There will be cable access to the Internet in the rooms using a special conference log on. Please note that if you wish to give handouts to attendees at your presentation, you will need to ensure that you bring sufficient copies with you.

The Gala Dinner for the conference to be held in the National Wine Centre at the eastern end of North Terrace on November 19 from 7 p.m. There will be entertainment and a dance floor(!). The dress code is ‘smart attire’.

The close of the conference will be held in the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery - with a few drinks and the first performance of our conference song. If you would like to be a part of the song creation or performance, Gavin Sanderson is your contact.

Sally's gone virtual

We had the news yesterday that, due to unforeseen and extenuating circumstances, Sally Brown will be unable to travel to Australia for the ATN Assessment conference.

Yes we were disappointed too.

However, with the assistance of technology and support from David Boud, we will attempt to beam in a virtual form of Sally for her keynote presentation on Thursday morning. This is likely to be a live cross to the UK so there will be opportunities for delegates to engage with Sally about her current thinking about engaging students with assessment.

Also, if you have skimmed the abstracts provided in the online version of your program (a hard copy will be provided when you arrive) you will see that on Friday morning our keynote presenters are John Biggs and Catherine Tang. John and Catherine have invited delegates to select a course to work on during their interactive session on constructive alignment. Don't miss this opportunity to optimise your courses with input from the experts themselves.


P.S. This also means that Phil Race's pre-conference workshop "Smarter Feedback" on Wednesday had to be cancelled.

Image: Microsoft Clip art

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Conference Gala Dinner

The National Wine Centre is the location of our Conference Gala Dinner. Adelaide is known not only for its churches, but also for its abundance of wines so where else would you expect to find a national centre of cullinary excellence?

The Wine Centre is nestled behind the Adelaide Botanic Garden - well worth a stroll - through on the way to dinner.

The ATN Conference organising Committee has some wonderful treats in store, including a beautiful menu and entertainment by nationally renowned musicians Keep the change.


On behalf of the ATN Assessment Conference Committee

Monday, November 10, 2008

Calling all Presenters

Just over a week to go....

We are looking forward to the ATN Assessment conference and to your presentations in particular.

As far as the technical side, you will need to be aware of the following arrangements:

  1. All the presentation machines in the presentation rooms will be PCs running Windows XP and Office 2007.
  2. In each room it will be possible to connect a speaker's own laptop. You may prefer this option, especially if your presentation involves complex multimedia effects, such as attached video or either attached or embedded audio.
  3. There is wireless and cable internet access using the conference's log on
  4. There will be a way of connecting the sound output of the computer to the audio system in the room.
  5. We will have a speakers preparation room to accommodate last minute changes to presentations.
  6. We will have support assistance so that speakers can provide their presentations to an assistant in the speaker preparation room in the morning of each day, ready for transfer to the presentation machine (different machine) during the break prior to the session.

In your presentations please attend to all the basics of good use of PowerPoint such as ensuring the font size is large to enable readability, and avoid excessively busy slides, and ensure the contrast of foreground and background colour makes the slides readable to all people, including those with common vision impediments such as colour blindness.

Thank you

Tim Ferris
on behalf of the ATN Assessment Conference Organising Committee

Monday, November 3, 2008

Staying connected at the ATN Assessment conference

With such an exciting program, there may not be much desire to keep in touch with home base, however, if the urge is great, here are a few ways that you can stay connected while visiting Adelaide and UniSA in November for the ATN Assessment conference.

The University of South Australia participates in the eduroam community so delegates who are also from participating institutions are welcome to bring their laptops to connect to the wireless network while on-campus.

Also, a nearby student computer pool (GK 3-21) with 20 computers, has been booked for delegates on the day prior to as well as the two days of the conference. For non-UniSA delegates a special log on will be provided when they arrive.

Non-Adelaide delegates may also have access to the internet at other times through their accommodation.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An exciting program awaits!

Last week the committee had the fun task of scheduling the 60+ contributions to the ATN Assessment conference. This post describes what we did and shares our draft program.

Kate, Andrea, Scott and Margaret working on the program

First we prepared a large matrix of the available times and created pieces of paper that had the information about each contribution. We printed these on coloured paper representing the different streams.

On the day we started our meeting significantly earlier than usual (it is a busy time of year in the academic calendar) with Kate providing the much needed coffee. After reviewing the requests for preferences for presenting, each of the stream editors placed their papers in the matrix to form the 6 sessions. We then 'locked them in' using blue tac. After photographing we entered this into a document to create our draft program for the conference.

We were very pleased with how it came together - but we were lucky to be working with such quality contributions! It really will be an exciting smorgasbord of sessions for conference delegates to enjoy.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Come for ATNA, stay for the weekend!

Adelaide and South Australia in November is delightfully warm and a welcoming time to visit. It is the busy conference season, so accommodation can be tight, but it contributes to a thoughtful, international atmosphere. Take advantage of the range of accommodation options UniSA has arranged for the conference, and be sure to mention ‘ATN Assessment Conference’ to access the special rates.

The conference coincides with Adelaide’s balmy late spring of long evenings with sunsets over the sea, which you can take in at the end of a twenty minute tram ride to Glenelg.

If it is fine food you are after, there is no need to leave the city mile to experience the breadth of South Australia’s regional produce, as the famous and indulgent Central Market can provide it all. Open late Friday nights, it is also a perfect breakfast spot on a Saturday, and is the heart of Adelaide’s premier restaurant precinct.

Feast, the Gay and Lesbian cultural festival will be in full swing for those in the mood to kick up the heels, and once the conference is over you just may be inclined to stick around for a sun drenched wine tour.

What more could one ask for to de-brief from the stimulating ATN Assessment Conference?

Thought I would also share this YouTube video by the AdelaideChannel

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dates looming!

With the ATN conference but two months away (yes, readers, TWO months!!) it's timely to mention a few dates.

  • Early Bird Registration Closes - October 9
  • Poster Abstracts - October 12
  • Papers accepted for non-refereed papers, presentations - October 18
As we speak, the ATN Conference Committee is busily chasing up reviews.

To those readers who have reviewed - many thanks for your efforts in providing useful feedback to our authors.

To our hard-working authors - many thanks for submitting your papers for review. We are keenly aware of the hard work involved in producing a paper and (although we can't say too much at this stage), we have some EXCELLENT papers in the offing.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, have a look at what South Australia has to offer. Adelaide is particularly beautiful in November - what better time to have a conference?

Andrea (on behalf of the ATN Conference organising committee)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Constructive alignment and assessment - Activity 2

This is the second activity in the series prepared by Catherine Tang where we can have a go at designing assessment tasks.

Constructive Alignment and Assessment Tasks

Assessment practices have a strong effect on what and how students learn – the backwash effect on learning. A positive backwash encourage appropriate learning approach to achieve the intended learning outcomes, while a negative backwash sends the wrong signals to students so that they use strategies irrelevant to achieving the intended learning outcomes. Constructively aligned assessment tasks have a positive backwash effect as they require students to deploy the verbs specified in the intended learning outcomes. Students see the relevancy between assessment tasks and what they are supposed to learn and hence are more likely to be motivated to actively engage in appropriate learning approaches. Details of Constructive Alignment and designing constructively aligned assessment tasks can be found in Biggs & Tang, 2007.

Activity 2: Designing an assessment task or tasks for one of your course ILOs

(Adapted from Task 11.3, Biggs & Tang, 2007, p. 243)

Refer to an ILO you have written in Activity 1 and design one or possibly more assessment task(s) that will appropriately assess this ILO. To help you check the alignment between the task(s) and the ILO, identify what the students are required to do in order to complete the assessment task(s). The student activities required to complete the assessment tasks should be aligned to the ILO.

Course ILO: ..................................................................................................

Assessment task

(Specify the nature of the task)

Student activities to complete the task




Now double check if the student activities are aligned to the verbs nominated in the selected course ILO.

After designing the task(s), you will need to write the grading criteria for each of the tasks (details see Biggs & Tang, 2007, Chapters 10, 11).

Please share with us any experience of designing and implementing constructively aligned assessment that you have.

Reference: Biggs, J. and Tang, C. (3rd ed) (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead, UK.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Constructive alignment and assessment - Activity 1

Our next two posts will provide you with two activities in constructive alignment and assessment that have been prepared for you by Catherine Tang, co-keynote with John Biggs. If you haven't heard about constructive alignment then the following video "Teaching teaching & understanding understanding" is a good investment of 19 minutes. Many thanks for this, Catherine!

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

At the course (unit/subject) level, intended learning outcomes are statements clarifying what students should be able to perform after engaging in a teaching and learning experience. Each intended learning outcome statement should clearly specify the content or topic to be learned and the level of understanding (performance), expressed in the form of an action verb, desirable for students to achieve. (Refer to Biggs & Tang, 2007, Chapter 5 for details of Intended Learning Outcomes)

Activity 1: Writing course (unit/subject) intended learning outcomes (ILOs)

(Adapted from Task 5.2, Biggs & Tang, 2007, p.84)

Take a course (unit/subject) that you are teaching. Consider the course aim and write the course ILOs by identifying the

  1. content or topic to be learned; and
  2. level of understanding or performance to be achieved.

The following may provide a helpful framework.

Content or topic

Level of understanding or performance (outcome verb)

Now go across the rows and write out the course ILOs by stating the intended level of understanding or performance (outcome verb) and the content or topic in which the verb is to be enacted.

Constructive Alignment

Teaching and learning should focus on the intended learning outcomes. In Constructive Alignment (CA), the teaching and learning activities (TLAs) and assessment tasks (ATs) are designed to align to the intended learning outcomes of the particular learning experience. There are four stages in a constructively aligned curriculum (Biggs & Tang, 2007, pp. 54-55).

  1. Describe the intended learning outcomes in the form of a verb (learning activity), its object (the content), and specify the context and a standard the students are to attain.
  2. Create a learning environment using teaching/learning activities that address that verb and therefore are likely to bring about the intended outcomes.
  3. Use assessment tasks that also contain that verb, thus enabling you to judge with the help of rubrics if and how well students’ performances meet the criteria.
  4. Transform these judgments into standard grading criteria.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Smarter feedback references

We were going to have a workshop before the conference from Phil Race - but due to unforeseen events, this has been cancelled.

Smarter feedback and feed-forward - giving more feedback, of better value, to more students in less time.Pre-conference workshop by Phil Race

The UK National Student Survey of 2005-8 shows that the areas where students are least satisfied with their experience of higher education are feedback and assessment, and this may well be the case in Australia too? In particular, students don’t reckon they get enough formative feedback, and it is not helping them as much as it should. What’s wrong with formative feedback? It can be too late. It can demotivate students instead of motivating them. It can take too much of our time, and yet students may take little notice of it. Too often, it can be feedback only, rather than also being feed-forward. This workshop aims to work out how we can give more and better feedback to more students – in less time!

You can find out more in:

  • Race, P and Pickford, R (2007) Making teaching Work London: Sage Publications.
  • Race, P (2006) The Lecturer’s Toolkit: 3rd edition London: Routledge.
  • Race P (2005) Making learning happen London: Sage Publications.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pollyanna's post

Hello to our (now 54 strong) ATN08 blog community

It's great to see things gradually hotting up with some great responses to Phil and Sally's 5 big ideas.

Well, I have to confess, I was one of the 3 optimists who (in our first poll) voted that 'love of learning' was a stronger motivator than 'marks' in assessment. I wonder why extrinsic motivation won out over intrinsic motivation with the masses (well, 12 voters)? Don't students come to Uni in the first place because they want to learn? Are we talking about a special few cases? Maybe that's just wishful thinking on our part.

What is engagement, if it isn't about tapping into the love or enjoyment of learning? Why have a conference about engaging students if the potential to love learning is unengagable? Or is it?

What do you think?

(So many questions for Pollyanna to ponder!)

Andrea Duff

Learning Adviser
UniSA Mawson Lakes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Phil's Big idea 5

Well the papers are rolling in - and out to reviewers - thanks everyone for following the guidelines so well. It should be about 3 weeks before some decisions are made.

In the mean time, for your academic pleasure, here is the final installment in Phil Race's 5 big ideas about feedback.
(BTW: Next post you can look forward to hearing from our keynote - Catherine Tang).

All the best,

Formative assessment and feedback is more important than end-of-module summative assessment
Perhaps there should be a rule that a maximum of 30% of credit can go to any ‘end-of-….’ assessment, and that 70% of the assessment should be ‘along the journey’ rather than ‘at the destination’. The least valuable ‘feedback’ is ‘just a mark or grade’ at the end of something – students rarely want to go back and find out exactly what they did really well or badly when something is ‘over’. And while we’re making such radical changes, perhaps any assessment format (e.g. time-constrained unseen exams, essays, reports, presentations, …) should not be allowed to exceed one-fifth of the overall assessment for a course, module, year, whatever, so that the mix of assessment and feedback can be suitably enriched.

For more of Phil’s recent writing on feedback and assessment, please see:
· Race, P and Pickford, R (2007) Making Teaching Work London: Sage.
· Race, P (2007) How to Get a Good Degree: 2nd edition Maidenhead: Open University Press (book for students).
· Race, P (2006) The Lecturer’s Toolkit: 3rd edition London: Routledge.
· Race, P (2005) Making Learning Happen London: Sage.
· Brown, S, Smith, B and Race, P (2005) 500 Tips on Assessment London: Routledge.
· Race, P (2003) How to Study Oxford: Blackwell (also now published in Chinese, Malaysian, Ukrainian, and Spanish) (book for students).