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Enhancing student engagement with biological psychology through assessment and feedback

Enhancing student engagement with biological psychology through assessment and feedback

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Enhancing student engagement with biological psychology through assessment and feedback

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  1. Enhancing student engagement with biological psychology through assessment and feedback Dr Lucy Annett Dr Sue Anthony and Dr Stefanie Schmeer School of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire

  2. aim: to improve experience of learning biological psychology and module outcomes use regular, small coursework assessments to encourage engagement and guide learning based on ideas from previous LTI conferences and seminars and successful statistics “homeworks” for first year Psychology BSc students as used by Bruce Hajilou supported by Learning and Teaching strategic priority enhancement award

  3. ‘constructive alignment’ mindful of importance of alignment of coursework tasks with learning outcomes (Biggs and Tang, 1999) “ … what the student does is actually more important in determining what is learned than what the teacher does” (Thomas J Shuell, 1986) use coursework to guide students as to what they should be studying each week, encouraging good habit of regular study

  4. two modules Psychology BSc (same cohort): Biological Psychology 1 Semester B 2009-10 exam 80% coursework 20% (previously essay and mid-term test) Biological Psychology 2 Semester A 2010-11 (previously exam 100%) introduced exam 80% coursework 20% subject considered “hard”, poor attendance at lectures and poor exam performance

  5. Biological Psychology 1 310 students redesigned content to introduce interesting examples in first year topics (“wow” factor, often involving effects of brain damage) additional web resources, especially YOU TUBES clips lecture activities – brain models two coursework assignments and StudyNet quizzes most weeks introduced MCQs for 50% of exam, plus two written answers Biological Psychology 2 220 students same topics as previous year, but additional web resources one written coursework task summarizing an article StudyNet quizzes most weeks introduced MCQs for 50% of exam, plus one written answer

  6. Biological Psychology 1 DMD “Have knowledge and understanding of the basic terminology of biological psychology … basic brain anatomy… physiology of brain cells, neurotransmission” hurdle of new terms to be learnt task for constructive alignment, do something active to learn terms, look them up, decide on definition create a glossary given list of 36 terms encountered in first 3 lectures, e.g. corpus callosum, grey matter, frontal lobe, vesicle, indirect agonist create definitions in no more than 25 words student feedback, very useful task BUT quick marking turn around not practical

  7. Biological Psychology 1 aim to generate interest in brain topics relevant to psychology constructive alignment: find out about potential topics, choose one of interest, discuss this with other students doing the course, working in groups of 2-3 prepare a presentation explaining the topic to the general public produce an electronic “leaflet” on chosen topic assessment criteria: to include mention of brain function (2%), clarity of explanations in text (1%), overall layout and look (1%), one scientific reference (1%), useful web site (1%) also a competition – student vote on best submissions popular task, BUT not quick marking turn around

  8. StudyNet quizzes automated marking for rapid turn round require students to think about lecture content, read text book, answer questions on key points quiz set up in advance and opened for submission immediately after lecture, to be completed before next lecture only first attempt before the deadline counts for assessment best 5/7 quiz scores used to allow for occasional missed quiz simple to download excel results file and enter to class list rapid feedback to students to see how their scores compare with the rest of the group

  9. StudyNet quizzes MCQs delivered by StudyNet quizzes used for summative assessment (despite StudyNet warning quizzes not designed for this) but not timed test, can be done anywhere anytime student collaboration? - no different from other coursework in this respect, good if students discuss answers will students work for only 2% coursework per quiz? – yes will all get 100% correct since can look up answers? – no well received by students, seen as useful “revision” for exam potential to identify early on those students not coping with what should be a straightforward task Biological Psychology 2: 58% failure rate those who did not submit one of first two quizzes, average exam grade only 40%

  10. Do you use multiple choice questions (MCQs) for formative or summative assessments in any of your teaching? • Yes • No

  11. MCQs may be useful for testing knowledge of facts but not for assessing deeper understanding • Strongly Agree • Agree • Neutral • Disagree • Strongly Disagree

  12. “Multiple Choice Questions may be useful for testing knowledge of facts but not for assessing deeper understanding” depends on the question: possible to set challenging questions that do assess deeper understanding (although takes longer to write these) important, set questions for the purpose of reminding students of the main points you would want them remember about this topic if questions asked about trivia will remember trivia examples of low level and “deeper” questions:

  13. The “Law of Effect” was proposed by • Pavlov • Tolman • Watson • Skinner • Thorndike

  14. The Law of Effect is an example of _____________ conditioning and suggests we ________ assume that animals anticipate the consequences of their actions • classical; can • classical; cannot • instrumental; can • instrumental; cannot

  15. A person with a ‘split brain’ shown the word book in the left visual field and the word case in the right visual field would… • say bookcase • point to the book and say case • point to the case and say book • point to the bookcase

  16. Multiple Choice Questions can be challenging and used to require students to think about and manipulate information not necessarily “easier” than written answers BioPsy2 average: written answers 48.2%, exam MCQs 45.5% correlation of MCQ with written answer grades for the exam BioPsy1: r = 0.657 BioPsy2: r = 0.590 P<0.01 case of student whose written answers were “copied” from the lecture slides, failed MCQ exam questions feedback from students positive about quizzes, MCQs and modules generally

  17. Student 1 “Personally, I found the multiple-choice questions to be really good… challenging and required you to think but made sure you revisedmost/all of the course …. they make you search for the actual purpose of things… you get a better idea of how everything slots together” Student 2 The coursework quizzes “…are really good for this sort of module where a lot of ground is covered and a high level of vocabulary is learnt every week. It makes you revise week on week and actually contributes to a percentage of the grade.”

  18. Student 3 “I think it was a completely brilliant idea because with the mini-quizzes I thought they were really, really good because every week you were doing a bit of coursework but you never had that sort of fear of whole essay to do and with the quizzes you always have to look back, so you are remembering things you forgot and learning new things to do the quizzes and each week you knew say if you got a bad mark in the first one, you would have to make it up and it sort of took the pressure off a little bit.” podcasts of lectures also provided for Biological Psychology 2 during revision period – very popular

  19. BUT exam outcomes did not match the enthusiasm from the feedback – grades not much improved BioPsy1 grades improved slightly to match, or slightly better than, other first year modules taken the same semester BioPsy2 grades similar to previous year, still low 48% explore data to investigate high failure rate low scores for those not engaging fully with the coursework - missing one of the first two coursework tasks a good predictor of poor exam performance later, difference of 10% in average grade less about lecture material per se, more about good habits working through the semester rather than “revision” at end target support for those who do not engage early on

  20. Thank you Amy Murphy and Dawn Grant for finding web materials and marking glossaries Dawn Grant for focus group and interviews LTI award for funding Amy and Dawn Biological Psychology 1 and 2 students for responding to requests for student views on the modules, especially regarding the coursework