School Seminar: Qualification approaches to assessment practices in undergraduate engineering for distance-learning students


Context
We have approximately 1200 students per annum entering the undergraduate engineering programme, the vast majority of whom are in full-time employment. Approximately one-third of these students do not have ‘A’ levels or equivalent qualifications.

Background
Restructuring our undergraduate engineering qualifications has enabled a qualification-based approach to assessment, building on work already completed to embed practical work, personal and professional skills, employability, and student-driven reflection of learning outcomes achievement.

We are using a qualification based approach to assessment that paces and builds student skills across modules. Assessments are designed to keep students on track within a module and gradually build their confidence and skills in tackling different kinds of assessment. We are working towards improved assessment strategies that build across levels towards overall qualification aims.

Frameworks
We align with external qualification and credit frameworks published by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and the OU Levels Framework. Learning outcomes and assessments are also aligned to the Engineering Council requirements for the Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) in engineering, in line with the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC).

Approach and Process
A working group was set up, with membership drawn from staff working at Stage 1 in the engineering curriculum. We held an initial workshop utilising dialogue sheets to surface issues and develop a set of principles for assessment design and feedback to students.

We are extending this approach to Stages 2 and 3 within the engineering qualifications and are disseminating our work internally and externally. This presentation shares the outcomes of our work to date, and our experiences of working beyond individual modules.



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