THE ENHANCEMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING THROUGH ENGAGEMENT AND FEEDBACK IN THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
The Dublin Institute of Technology is one of the largest multi-level higher education providers in Ireland, catering for over 2200 students annually. Under the 1999 Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, DIT became an awarding body in its own right. Programme provision covers apprenticeships, short continuous professional development courses, taught undergraduate and postgraduate, research MPhil and PhDs. The Institute’s traditional mission has always been focused on teaching and learning in the field of advanced technical vocational education and training (TVET), and one of it’s current agendas is to foster and encourage changes in teaching practice and methodology in order to enhance a student centred learning approach.
This paper reviews a pilot project undertaken regarding this agenda by lecturers of Carpentry and Joinery apprentices. Over the past few years, it appeared that the students were showing less of an interest in their practical jobs in class, as they did not relate the learning to actual work in industry. When it came to exam time their lack of interest in class through term meant they quite often rushed through their exams, mistakes were made and students engaged in unsafe practices. As such the students’ final exam mark wasn’t necessarily a fair reflection of their ability.
Against this background it was decided that something had to be done to revitalise student interest in the work they were doing and also to try and assess a student’s real capability or standard level. The method that was decided upon to achieve this was a form of continuous assessment whereby students were encouraged to correct their own work. By doing this it gave them a chance to reflect on the jobs they had just completed and also allowed them to focus in on areas in which they felt they needed to improve. It also gave the lecturers the opportunity to give formative feedback to the students by checking their work and the marks that they awarded themselves to see that they were a fair reflection of each other.
The research demonstrates that this form of proactive teaching can help foster a learning environment whereby the student feels they have some form of direct control and as such take on a more active role in their education.