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Student co-design of confidence-building formative assessment for Level 1 Computing & IT students

  • Project leader(s): Paul PiwekSimon Savage
  • Theme: Innovative assessment
  • Faculty: STEM
  • Status: Archived
  • Dates: June 2019 to June 2022

Winner of the 6th eSTEeM Scholarship Projects of the Year Awards 2023.

This project came out of some of the insights gained from a previous project we carried out for the Institute of Coding. In that project we looked at student discussions around quizzes they completed as part of their studies. One of the results was that a small number of the quiz questions could be expressed better, with students needing clarification on what was being asked of them.

Central to the current eSTEeM project was a co-design workshop with student partners to redesign the aforementioned questions. We identified half a dozen questions where we had feedback that they could be improved. We shared these with a small group of students who had previously completed the course and asked them to identify what the strengths and weaknesses of the questions were.  We then had a workshop, on the Open University’s campus, in Milton Keynes with the student partners. We divided into three teams of a student and a staff member. Each team looked at the questions and made suggestions for improvements and then shared their findings with the other teams. We also had a more general discussion about studying with the Open University, learning about the wide variety of approaches adopted by our students. After the workshop we implemented the suggested changes to the quiz questions, and the most recent cohort of students worked with this new set of questions. After analysing the use of the new questions, we had a final debrief meeting with the student partners at which we examined the results and gathered further feedback from the student partners on the co-design process used in this project.

In the course of this project, we encountered a number of challenges, specifically with:

  • recruiting enough students, let alone recruiting a diverse group of students,
  • the lengthiness of the student selection process.

We followed a relatively standard approach with student recruitment, making first contact via email. It seems advisable for future projects to explore other innovative ways of contacting students (e.g. alternative media such as postcards via the mail or video presentations). This could make the project team feel more approachable to the student partners and reduce anxiety about engagement with the project team.

The student partners told us that they liked:

  • having their voice heard,
  • visiting Walton Hall,
  • learning about the question design process,
  • equality in discussions/partnership.

We got a better understanding of:

  • the diverse ways in which students engage with the module materials,
  • concrete ideas and examples from the students that help inform assessment design,
  • how productive and enjoyable work in small 1 student partner + 1 academic partner teams can be,
  • how important it is to explain the purpose of the co-design, and balance the need for clear information to the students with not biasing the student views towards what we would like to hear, 
  • how the new co-designed questions seem to be an improvement on the original questions, especially in terms of elimination of negative forum feedback on the questions. However, there was no clear trend in terms of a quantitative measure such as Discrimination efficiency.

When evaluating the co-design process, we felt that it was important to avoid undue influence on the student partners. We recommend using a neutral technology for debrief meetings (i.e. not tutorial software) and a third-party moderator for the feedback discussion (without the project team present).

Student Voice icon





Related Resources: 
PDF icon Paul Piwek and Simon Savage poster.pdf50.21 KB

Project poster.

Paul Piwek et al interactive poster (full screen)

Interactive poster presentation.

File Paul-Piwek-Simon-Savage-2023-06-21-eSTEeM-presentation.pptx6.85 MB

Project presentation.