Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Teaching Better Judgement

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in Professor Lambert Schuwirth's  Better Judgement Workshop. This is part of a Flinders University, funded by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT). This is about how to better train assessors for professions such as medicine.

This is about assessment of skills in the workplace. But something which struck me was that I feel very comfortable sitting in a classroom. I have been teaching and doing only  on-line courses for the last year and there is something familiar about being back in a classroom, with rows of desks, a lectern at the front and fellow students around me.

The next thing which struck me was that the workshop seemed to be about workplace assessment for competence, an area I was trained in as part of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. With this you first decide what the job requires, then what behavior you can observe of the student to asses if they can do what is required. This could be the student actually doing the job,or doing a simulation of the job. Only if that is not feasible would you give them an "examination" as such, as that is not a very good way to assess what some can do.

Also the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, unlike universities, requires formal training and assessment of assessors. Having been trained in how to design and administer assessment makes me more confident in what to do and, hopefully, better at it.

This brings up a problem with the OLT's strategy for improving the quality of terracing at Australian universities. OLT funds research on teaching and learning issues. The researchers are required to not only produce the usual academic papers, but also disseminate their results to academics. The usual way is to present results at workshops on campuses across Australia. The problem with this is that, by its nature, research has to be on something new. However, the day to day problems with teaching in Australian universities already have known solutions. The need is not for research, but for training of staff in how to teach.

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