One of the defining characteristics of my time as a Learning Developer was that I did not get involved in assessment marking and feedback. There were a handful of exceptions, including some early work for the Business School and our contribution to the Postgraduate Training Scheme. Both of these opportunities were phased out early on in my career, and as such, I’ve not done marking in some time. I know many people who dislike marking – but it was always something I kind of missed. Marking assessments is an essential part of the academic cycle, and the provision of summative feedback helps students to develop moving forwards. I always missed not being part of that. It feels like one of the significant differences between many thirdspace professionals and academics.
While I didn’t do regular assessment marking and feedback, I was certainly up-to-date with the literature and theory in many places. Part of my role as a Learning Developer was helping students to understand their assessments – even if I didn’t set them. I think the vast majority of my appointments were with students focusing on an assessment. It was also a growing area for workshops, with many academics inviting us to run in-curricula sessions on specific assessments. These requests often focused on assessments that step away from essays and reports. I’ve run many sessions on posters, presentations, public communications and more. Yet… I didn’t actually mark the work or provide that summative feedback. That always made me feel like a fraud every time LTHE chat turned to assessment.
Re-engaging with assessment
That brings me back to my reflections on my new job as I finish my second official week as an academic. Assessment and feedback are very much within my remit now. In fact, we’ve just finished the first and second marking for all the postgraduate dissertations from the last year. Given my start date, I only had second marking to do – but it was so nice to get back into assessment. It’s made for quite an inspiring start to the academic year for me, reading about all the fantastic things our outgoing students did in their research over the last year. This has also energised me for the year ahead and the research supervision I will be doing in my own role.
Using assessment and feedback to reflect forwards
I should also note that assessment is exciting from a programme design perspective. The work that students produce gives us opportunities to reflect on how we can continue to improve assessment moving forwards. This could involve different support, new guidance, better clarification or fundamental change to assessment. As one academic year ends, another begins. With postgraduate courses, there is little gap in-between, but we must find the time to reflect on practice. I had the luxury of not being involved in the previous academic year, coming in fresh for 2022-23. Next year I will need to pay close attention to this transition and make sure I pen in time to reflect between the years.
I don’t feel like I can say much more on assessment at this point other than acknowledge that contrast to my previous role. Assessment and feedback are rarely in the remit of thirdspace professionals, and that is something worth unpicking in my reflections over the course of the year.
Reflecting beyond assessment
Before closing, I just wanted to note that other things beyond assessment happened this week as well. I got to deliver my first lecture for the MA programme, covering a lecturer who was away. I also got to see my supervisees for the first time and develop my understanding of personal supervision. Finally, all my weekly workshops took place, and I had the opportunity to get to know my students and their research interests further. More to unpack in a future blog.
Earlier this month I reflected on leaving the thirdspace. This post continues my reflections on the transition to my new job!