Individual and directed

This topic contains 18 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  meg colasante 4 years, 11 months ago.

  • Author
  • #10274

    Moira Maley

    Are required points of assessment (barrier or summative) therefore “individual and directed” as the judgment needs to be made about a single student’s competence to perform a required skill for certification.

    Does this  indicate that an effective big picture learning environment is one that has periods of autonomous social learning and directed social learning but punctuated with assessments  (“individual and directed”) to funnel students through a hinge question and into the next phase which may return them to social and autonomous?

    Is variety in the learning environment important for engagement ?

    (Bit like good stock management in moving them through the right series of paddocks as the season changes and market approaches)

  • #10560

    Moira Maley

    I suppose if this exercise is to consider the polarities between individual / social and autonomous / directed  as characteristics of learning activities, including assessments as one of those … might be picking a poor example in many tertiary situations, certainly in medical education that would be the case.

    In Kathy’s setting it sounds as though you assess individual’s skills that can only be learned “socially”, as part of a group, and are important workplace learning items. Its interesting to dissect this down from a slightly different perspective.

  • #10982

    Tom Franklin

    It might be useful to think about ipsative assessment (as opposed to norm or criterion based assessment). In ipsative assessment the student is assessed against their prior learning and their desired learning. Of course, this can cause difficulties if you are trying to follow a curriculum for the whole cohort.

    • #11021

      Hi Tom, thanks as I wasn’t aware of the term “ipsative assessment” for those new to the educational use of this term see the following blog entry. Would I be wrong in suggesting that others may have come across this in the guise of self-assessment using reflection log where the individual charts where they started and progress made?

      • #14693

        meg colasante

        Hi Tom and Elizabeth,
        Like you Elizabeth, I wasn’t aware of ‘ipsative assessment, so thank you for sharing a link on this, which I will read.
        Tom, thanks for sharing this term in the context of individual-directed activities/assessment.
        At my University, we have long moved from a norm-referenced assessment approach to a criterion-referenced one. Unfortunately, the good ol’ bell curve is discovered in use in assessment moderation every now and then!!!
        We are finding that the improving technology of rubric functionality in LMSs (e.g. Blackboard) and tailored textual feedback options supported by big data are starting to give teachers new tools to improve their assessment practices.

  • #11094


    Doh! I was really intrigued to read more about the crit being “…an ego-trip for staff and humiliation for [students]” Andy but as it’s a book I’m going to have to see if we have it in our Library.

    I’ve always found crits to be extremely helpful – I studied art at college and multimedia for my degree and often wasn’t proud of my work at all, but I never found the crit to be humiliating. My experience of teaching groups of students has also been positive – they seem to work together well and are really supportive of each other. Perhaps I’ve just been very lucky!

    I’ve often wondered whether this approach might benefit (some) other subjects as well. Having said this, I agree that it’s different for each learner/ course. Thanks for sharing the ‘Best Practices’ link Phil – I found that really inspiring. That’s what I would like to do (or support someone else to…) :o)

  • #12979


    My thoughts around your discussion are that in achieving valid and reliable assessment I like the concept of the TESTA methodology where the approach is to look at programme level assessment where by the assessment is varied across the programme to allow a range of assessment methods. This appears on the surface to be a fair approach.

    I also feel that some of what you are saying relates to disciplinary approaches and threshold concepts but the importance as you’ve identified is making the experience authentic. I wonder if now that students are paying for their education they will come to demand assessment that they feel they can excel in!

  • #10350

    Hi Malmaley,

    I agree with you that learning is both individual and social. And I do agree that variety in the learning environment is important for engagement; monotonous note-taking would dull anyone’s mind.

    However, assessment doesn’t have to be only ‘individual and directed”. I agree that there needs to be the certification of individual skill levels, but there can also be   group assessment activities. These assessments test learners skills in relation to team work, collaborative work skills and a range of social skills that are necessary in the modern workplace.

    One of the things that has always struck me about assessment is that it should, where possible, be authentic. That is, it should propose and assess tasks and skills that are similar to the tasks undertaken by real world practitioners.

    So I guess you could say that practitioner tasks and skills would be the benchmarks against which I would measure the validity of my assessments.





  • #10838

    Gary Vear

    One of the things that has always struck me about assessment is that it should, where possible, be authentic. That is, it should propose and assess tasks and skills that are similar to the tasks undertaken by real world practitioners.

    I think this is an excellent point. If we are training learners to go into a particular vocation, then we should assess them on the same level and skill sets that current practitioners have.

    To play devils advocate, how would this be achieved in a vocation that is subjective rather than objective, eg. Art?

    We can incorporate social assessments and per grading/feecback but this is all opinion based and it is difficult to assess the outcome in comparison to current practitioners.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  Gary Vear.
  • #10906


    I think it is worth considering here that the task is related to the person as well as the learning objective. That is to say that different people will learn the same thing differently and prefer different styles of teaching. The point of this task for me is to critically examine what we are actually doing now, and work out if it is

    a) the only way this can be taught
    b) the best way of teaching for everyone

    and then to consider

    c) if doing it differently would help or harm or whether it would jeopardise other factors, such as time.

    There is a great blog post here, which popped up on my G+ timeline last week that describes how to vary teaching practice to include several dimensions and how it afffects different students…


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  philtubman.
  • #10939

    Andy Wilson


    I’m not sure I agree that we should assess at the same level and skill sets as current practitioners. Which practitioners? I fully accept that assessment should be relevant but I think we are also trying to move practice forward.

    And as to subjective vocations… Aren’t all vocations subjective to some extent? But in terms of how it’s done, art and design and architecture use the “crit”, but note comments like this…

    “…an ego-trip for staff and humiliation for [students]”

  • #11143

    “To play devils advocate, how would this be achieved in a vocation that is subjective rather than objective, eg. Art?”

    @gary: A good question!  I don’t really feel qualified to talk about the artistic process but for artists, I am sure that there must be some types of  general skills  and tasks that help to define their practice. Identifying these general skills and tasks, developing learning experiences that allow learners to practice these skills and do these tasks and then assessing  them on it  seems to me to be a useful way to assist learners to move in the direction of becoming practitioners.



  • #11744


    Vocational subjects like art and design can still be assessed using real world solutions. You just have to determine what it is you are actually assessing and set up the assessment criteria against that.

    Good curriculum design starts with the conversation opener “What is it that I want the learner to achieve?” (the Aim of the Module). The assessment strategy is then built around producing evidence that then matches this expectation on differing levels (grades) through Learning Outcomes, all the time referring to Benchmarks for the level via the QAA or Quality Assurance or Provider standard. Very generalised… but go with it for now…

    But I have a problem with this.
    1. It assumes that one knows what the learner needs to know. You don’t. We are teaching people for the future ad we don’t know what the problems of the future will hold. How can we teach them what they need to know if we don’t know what they need to know in future?
    2. Basic knowledge (Assumed knowledge) required for skills in vocational job can be taught. Any skill can be taught with enough practice, (Or can it? that is another debate about nature vs nurture) so what is the required knowledge that underpins the skill?
    Bringing this back to Art and Design do you want to teach someone how to hold a paintbrush and mix paint, or do you want to teach them how to express themselves (using paint).

    Putting these arguments to one side for a moment, you can begin designing assessment that allows the measuring of student engagement with a problem.
    In Art, that could be an assessment task to present a body of work in a public space that explores the concept of (X). The measure of success (Assessment strategy) could look at peer review, Gallery comments, Vox pops from the public, further exhibition offers, Sales of artwork… etc…

    So defining success is not so much a matter of computation and meeting ‘defined assessment criteria based on a theoretical underpinning’ but more real assessment strategies that measure against commercial or personal benchmarks.

    Another avenue to explore is getting the learner to write their own assessment criteria and then having their peers review them. Often the learner will set themselves much harder goals of achievement and their peers will judge the success against these goals more harshly than their professors would have done. See the work of Phil Race ( ( in getting learners to design their own assessment strategies.

    So, the upshot is; involve learners in the design of Assessment and you will be surprised at just how good they are at measuring their own success. Don’t assume that you have all the knowledge, your learners WILL surprise you and you cannot possibly know the future.

  • #14730

    meg colasante

    Hi Gary,
    I agree with your comment on authentic learning, but I cannot really give enlightenment on implementation in the arts as I have worked too many years in the College of Science, Engineering and Health! I did however, lead a cross-College project in 2011, and one project participant was a teacher of an art subject for Primary Education (i.e. for pre-service teachers). She asked students to observe artists in practice (including themselves, primary school students, others) and observe art observers (e.g. at galleries), capture such experiences in video, share them with the class online and reflect on them (annotating the videos) under a range of art-teaching categories. This wasn’t ‘Individual and directed’ though, as per this discussion thread; I believe the teacher would have liked this to be more social-autonomous, but really it fell more into the individual-autonomous quadrant – but it was authentic!
    Jan Herrington in Australia is a big name for authentic learning publications – might be worth reading her works to see if she includes arts? I’ve read a number of her works, but didn’t have my antenna up for any art examples.
    I hope this helps a little…

  • #10962

    Gary Vear

    @philtubman – thank you for the recommendation, I found that to be a very interesting read!

    @andywilson48 – You really have pointed out the major flaw with the idea. How do we deem current practitioners to be of a good standard? Where do we find them?

    I wouldn’t say all vocations are subjective. There is a definitive right way and wrong way to fix a car for example, but how is there a wrong way to paint a picture, this was the subjective assessment I was referring too.

  • #11097

    @Andy Wilson:  Thank you for replying, I appreciate the conversation!  I would say though, that authentic assessments do not have to be the same tasks or at the same skill levels as real work practitioners. Authentic assessment , as I meant it, referred to the processes and products of  a particular practice or discipline.

    As a quick example:  Primary school students are guided through the process of conducting a simple experiment using “the scientific method”.  They are then assessed on the degree to which they followed scientific protocols (They may also be assessed on the experiment outcome as well).   This assessment is authentic because it is  an assessment of  the type of task that scientists undertake.   In this instance, students are learning science skills, not by being told about science, but by practicing to be scientists. This is what I meant by assessing authentic skills.



  • #11080


    very briefly Gary and Andy, on the subject of Art, I used to have long conversations with an artist about this, and the conclusion we always came back to was ‘artistic intent’ or ‘intent’ as the factor that differentiates art as ;beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that (which presumably you were referring to).

    It may be worth thinking about how great artists are not great usually until they die, and that Leonardo Da Vinci, if I am remembering radio 4 (:)) rightly, was not considered a genius until long after he died (and someone foudn all his notes 🙂

    perhaps beauty is also in the epoch of the beholder 🙂

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  philtubman.
  • #11642

    Andy Wilson

    We’re in the middle of having some building work done and I overhear long and detailed conversations about fitting double glazing panels into windows. Our guys certainly don’t think there’s a definitive way of doing it. 🙂

    But – more to the point – I think I would argue that all assessment is subjective because there always has to be a judgment about how you weight the different elements.

  • #13075


    Great Post! Love this bit:

    Do you want to teach someone how to hold a paintbrush and mix paint, or do you want to teach them how to express themselves (using paint)?

    And I like the comparison between computational methods of assessment and more real world examples fitting for person and real-world benchmarks as you describe such as commercial benchmarks.

    What types of technology, if any, do you feel could enhance the process of assessing these flexible and non-computationally articulated learning outcomes? Is it possible to computationally assess in this way that can achieve scale do you think (as in MOOCs)??

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