What did you do to create inclusive practice and how did you do it?
When revalidating the MA Education programme at York St John (YSJ), we considered how best to develop an assessment strategy that was inclusive by way of types of assessments, but also developed transferable skills for employment. We moved away from traditional essays, and considered artefacts, portfolios, presentations and feedback given by students to others during presentations, as well as a TED-style talk to accompany the dissertation. We wanted to move away from the traditional emphasis on critical reading and writing, and instead embrace critical listening and critical talking as key academic skills.
Why did you implement your example of inclusive practice?
Too often academia has placed overarching value on writing in a specific way and undervalued other important skills, such as being able to respond to difficult questions in a group situation. The valorisation of the essay, in particular, has put many of our undergraduates off moving on to Masters-level study. Many of our mature students are experts in their professional lives but underconfident in their academic lives. We wanted to provide a space in which they could develop their critical thinking about their practice and assess this with different methods.
What was the impact of your case study?
We have seen an increase in students moving from our Foundation Degree to Masters study – in previous years, we might have seen one person move on and this year (2022/23) we have had five students progress. These students told me that they had specifically chosen the MA Education due to the assessment strategy. We have also seen an increase in students wanting to progress to doctoral study as they become more confident in their academic skills.
What were the lessons learned?
Engage with students and employers regarding the skills and knowledge that are needed. Engage continually with students in a reflective process regarding assessment. (We have adapted one of the assignments already, which didn’t work as well in practice as we thought.) Shorter writing assignments and more creative assessment can be as challenging, if not more challenging, for students in terms of academic rigour.