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Thus it is with all of the teaching techniques. The mere label is handy, but it does not tell exactly what the lecturer does.

One way of gaining some insights into the teaching techniques used is to look at what learning activities students are also required to do in a programme or part of a programme of study. As with teaching, learning activities called by the same name can differ quite widely.

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Learning Methods - Thinking Styles - Teaching Methods

Apart from attending lectures participating in lectures or reading books and journals, the following inevitably partial list of commonly used learning activities gives some idea of the richness that is possible in aligned teaching and learning. To complete the cycle of learning one must also look at how students' achievement of learning outcomes is assessed.

Assessment is not just the rounding off of the teaching and learning period but to a large extent a central steering element in those processes, and directly linked to learning outcomes. At one time, in some countries the oral examination was the most used method of assessment, while in others it was the essay. In a number of countries even today the essay remains a commonly used mode s of assessment. There is nothing wrong with essays as such, as long as the task set is appropriate to the unit of study and to its intended learning outcomes, and the lecturer has the time to mark them promptly and provide written feedback which is constructive and focussed.

Nevertheless, the long written paper is only one of the options that the busy lecturer has at his or her disposal, and the main competence assessed is the ability to research and write such papers in the appropriate genre: useful academic skills, but not the only ones students need to develop and demonstrate the ability to perform.

Most programmes described in Tuning use a range of modes of assessment at different points in the programme. Coursework assignments, which may be formally assessed and graded - or not - assess student performance as the programme or part of it progresses. These may include the following, but again this is not an exhaustive list, merely that which arose from the Tuning work. Central to all of these ways of assessing student work during a programme is feedback.

The assessment is said to be formative , because the students learn by doing the work and then having the lecturer comment on how well they have achieved it, where they have done less well, how to improve, and what steps might be taken to do this. To further enable students to achieve the task successfully it is increasingly the case that students are given the criteria for success at the outset: a specification of what they have to do in order to complete the task satisfactorily.

Of course, in any programme of study, or parts of it, there is a need for summative assessment. Sometimes the coursework discussed above performs both a formative and a summative function.


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The grade given is the summation of the student's achievement in that element, and the feedback from lecturer — and sometimes peers as well — is the formative part. Traditionally, however, and still commonly used for a variety of reasons, there are some forms of assessment which are usually only summative: they assess achievement at the end of a programme or part of it, and students may receive only their mark or grade which does have its formative aspect!

If the examination has a follow-up seminar or tutorial to discuss the results it then contains a greater amount of the formative function. Some form of invigilated examination is the usual format for summative assessment; this may be written or oral. Written examinations have the virtue of cheapness and security: a large cohort can be examined at the same time, while oral examinations can probe a student's learning in ways that a written format normally does not allow.

Written examinations can take a wide range of formats, including the following short list of common ones. Oral examinations can also have a wide range of formats, within the following two categories. It goes without saying that almost any form of assessment can have a diagnostic function for both student and lecturer.

The Big Picture

By seeing what has not been achieved, what has been achieved with little effort, what is excellent, and so on, both the teacher and the learner know where more work is needed or where effort can be diverted. So far, the project based dissertation or thesis has not been mentioned. This is an example of a complex mode of assessment, widely used across Europe in every subject area, and in all degree cycles in varying levels of complexity, and with different purposes at each level.

The thesis is a summative assessment of a programme or substantial part of a programme, demanding the demonstration of a range of competences and understanding. It is also strongly formative in that it is normally prepared under the supervision of a lecturer, who advises the student on the work, and certainly provides feedback at different stages of its development.

The summative examination may be oral or written i. At doctoral level the final examination of the thesis is always by an oral examination the defence of the thesis , although the format of this may vary quite widely from country to country, but in the lower two cycles assessment of projects and dissertations may be based on the student's written document alone. In many institutions guidelines and requirements have been developed for the assessment of learning at different programme levels, as well as for preparing final theses. In particular, it is becoming the norm to publish the criteria for success in assignments, something which should be universal.

Many Tuning members reported that their departments were instituting procedures for fair assessment. European wide guidelines 1 are now emerging, which say, for example,. Finally, when discussing assessment issues across different cultures, it is important to probe the different ideas about what should be taken into account in assessment vary. For example some systems prize hard work, others high achievement, others high potential.

The Tuning II consultation. Each academic involved in the project was asked to reflect on a given number of subject-specific and generic competences and to identify ideas and best practices to develop these competences in a degree programme in terms of learning activities, teaching, and assessment. They were asked to find answers to the following five questions:. Tuning members followed different strategies to find reliable answers, including consultation with colleagues in their home institutions. Most subject groups identified possible strategies either based on ideas or real experience.

While some reported actual practices, others described how current good practices could be linked to new concepts of competences, and so reported on future possibilities rather than on present practice. Across Europe , it is clear that there are two main ways of teaching or enhancing generic competences. In this respect one could think of, for example, academic writing and oral skills and ICT-competences.

The second way is for generic competences to be developed as part of or integrated into subject programmes and modules.

Through the consultation process it became clear that it is possible to foster generic competences while teaching normal subject area material if there is awareness of the need to do so and if teaching strategies are designed taking generic competences into account. In general, since different approaches to learning, teaching and assessment tend to form or enhance different generic competences, Tuning members underlined the requirement that each student experience a variety of methods.

TIS Teaching Thinking Skills

The consultation process on generic competences. Further aims are to see how they are perceived by or, possibly, what their importance is for students and to investigate whether there are teaching learning methods used in some disciplinary areas, or in some countries or in some institutions which can usefully be proposed as models of good practice or which can be of interest more generally in developing new insights into competence-based curriculum design and delivery. It is striking to see how differently some generic competences have been understood in the context of the various subject area groups.

Sometimes strong differences can be noted between different national traditions within a single subject area; however it is more common to observe strong differences in perception and methods between different subject areas. It seems clear from an examination of the answers gathered that generic competences are always interpreted in the light of the disciplinary area. Even in cases in which the graduates or a relevant number of them will almost certainly be expected to work in areas not directly related to the subject in which they will receive a degree, the academics' perception of the generic competences remains quite tightly tied to the subject area disciplines themselves.

The first consequence of this observation is that in practice the generic competences do not appear to be rigidly separate from the subject specific competences. Rather they appear as further variations to be considered within the range of the subject specific competences. An additional consequence is that for each generic competence a distinction must be made between disciplinary areas in which the competence is considered important or even fundamental, a priority for the discipline, and those in which its connection with the subject area is less clear.

The consultation focussed on a selection of the thirty generic competences identified by the Tuning project. From these eight were selected for discussion in this paper:. No clear-cut definition of the capacity emerged from the consultation but it was evident that the Subject Area Groups SAGs defined analysis and synthesis in a very wide sense. The Business Studies SAG listed among others the elements of identifying the right research question or problem, the ability to describe as well as to conclude and formulate recommendations as indicators.

The Education SAG also took into account the reflective ability of a student and the ways in which this demonstrates the capacity for description, analysis and synthesis. If not, students should find out what they could use from past experience and start there to develop new approaches to solving the problem. Other SAGs defined analysis in a way which seems to comprise all these indicators as activities, i. It demands logical thinking, using the key assumptions of the relevant subject area and even the development of this area further by research.

In no SAG was the acquisition of this skill taught in a separate element or module, i. This view was also supported by the perceptions of students. Data collected from students showed that they attached great importance to this competence as it enabled them to relate theory and practice, evaluate findings logically and use instruments to find out alternative ways; they perceived it as being highly pertinent to their future professional career. For the description of the competence a large number of expressions were used: to interpret, to find the main points, to understand, to evaluate, to deal with information, to evaluate critically, to marry theory and practice, to organise information, to understand, to place in context, to develop objectivity, to combine, to research, to formulate, not just reproduce, to apply, to describe, to conclude, to think, to compare, to select, to differentiate, to contrast, to break down, to summarise, to argue, to relate, to generalise, to think logically, to think rationally, to appreciate, to consider, to predict, to provide, to solve.

This wide definition is essential as it relates directly to the teaching and learning activities which enable students to achieve this competence. It is highlighted that the competence is directly related to the ability to solve problems, another highly ranked generic competence. It was reported that students develop the capacity for analysis and synthesis through. Assessment of the extent to which this competence has been achieved varies according to the way in which it has been developed.

In some SAGs this was done partly through group meetings and discussion sessions.


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  • The assessment can also be based on how students analysed material or information. In the Education SAG a variety of modes of assessment were identified: discussion, questioning, observation, evidence of personal and professional engagement, supervision of reports, active participation in placements, essays, assignments, projects, examinations, theses. Students may also contribute to their assessment by submitting or presenting a "self-evaluation" at the end of the semester.

    Feedback is organised through group discussions or individually, whether in writing or face-to-face.

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    SAGs also highlight that students identified a number of ways by which they would know if they had achieved this competence, such as. In most cases, however, it is described as the ability to perform specific academic tasks, which may vary according to the discipline. In initial teacher education there is a clear projection into the future teaching profession. In the second cycle this competence is often described in more professional terms, and may be more closely associated with activities to be performed in the workplace such as collecting information from diverse sources and writing a report on a complex issue.

    The different teaching methods used to help the students achieve this competence reflect different approaches to practice. Accordingly, the opportunities for practice provided inside and outside the institution are described differently in the various disciplines, as exercises of various types, practical classes, lecture sessions, seminars, field classes, laboratory sessions, industrial projects, industrial placements, study visits, field excursions, student teaching practice.

    Some disciplines suggest that this competence can be best developed by doing a project or writing a thesis. Others, like Business Studies, Chemistry, Mathematics and Education emphasise the need to provide appropriate tools and methods as well as opportunities for problem solving. The Education group emphasises the importance of reflection on work done.