This panel discussion on pass/fail assessment in arts higher education took place online during the ‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ symposium on 21st October 2021. The symposium forms part of the QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021 and is a partnership between University of the Arts London (UAL), Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University (LAU). The discussion between invited speakers: Professor Sam Broadhead (LAU), Dr Neil Currant, (UAL) and Peter Hughes, (LAU) is facilitated by Dr Kate Mori (Academic Engagement Manager, QAA).
The discussion explores the potential of pass/fail as a compassionate approach to assessment and explores the challenges in changing practice and policies from the perspective of staff, students and the wider institution. A fascinating conversation that explores the complexities of feedback and assessment and implications for student belonging.
For more information please contact project lead, Vikki Hill at [email protected] or visit: https://belongingthroughassessment.myblog.arts.ac.uk/
Professor Samantha Broadhead:
Samantha Broadhead is Head of Research at Leeds Arts University. Her research interests include access and widening participation in art and design education and the educational sociology of Basil Bernstein (1924–2000). She serves on the Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning’s editorial board. Broadhead publishes work on access and widening participation. Broadhead has co-authored with Professor Maggie Gregson (2018) Practical Wisdom and Democratic Education - Phronesis, Art and Non-traditional Students, Macmillan Palgrave. She also has co-authored with Rosemarie Davies and Anthony Hudson (2019) Perspectives on Access: Practice and Research, Emerald Publishing.
Dr. Neil Currant:
Dr. Neil Currant is an Educational Developer and Senior Fellow HEA. Neil supports new lecturers and postgraduate students with their teaching practices and runs the professional recognition programme at UAL.
Peter Hughes is an educational developer. He is Academic Development Manager at Leeds Arts University and is a National Teaching Fellow.
Dr Kate Mori:
Kate has worked in higher education for the past 20 years, starting as a lecturer and then moving in to course management and leading teaching and learning activities. Her work at the QAA focuses on the quality of teaching and learning and also Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
Welcome to interrogating spaces. A podcast that examines ideas around inclusivity and attainment in higher education. We speak with staff, students and practitioners to explore questions around democratic and decolonize teaching practices.About this episode:
This episode of interrogating spaces features the discussion examining the potential of pass fail as a humanizing and compassionate form of assessment. This conversation took place at the symposium for the QAA, collaborative enhancement project: 'belonging through assessment pipelines of compassion'. Led by University of the Arts, London partnered with Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University. Together, the team is exploring the possibilities of assessment policies and pedagogies. To nurture belonging as a way to address issues of social justice. In this conversation, Professor Sam broadhead, Peter Hughes and Neil current discuss their research and practices in Pass / Fail assessment. They surface benefits and challenges for staff, students and higher education institutions. And consider ways to support a cultural shift from grading to upgrading. We begin by exploring the personal motivations and recent research. They have brought each of them to this topic. Dr. Kate Mori, quality and standards specialist at the QAA, guides through the discussion.Dr. Kate Mori:
I wonder just before we kick off with with the questions, if it would just help just to come round you all in turn, just to talk about how you came to the sort of pass fail assessment discussion is of importance and relevance if that's okay. So Neil, if I can come to you first, just just with that sort of context and background?Dr Neil Currant:
Yeah, so as Vikki said, I'm an education developer at the University of the Arts London. And we were asked to kind of evaluate part of the university's 'no detriment policy'. So in the first year, under when the pandemic hit, the university moved to a pass / fail in the first year. So the kind of first group to hit that had in this kind of final term with their final assessments, and then we had a whole year of pass fail. So we were we spent the summer kind of researching the student staff experience of that pass / fail. And that's kind of very much the context that I'm going to talk about today. But also, personally, my I did my doctoral research on belonging and strategies for belonging and the student experience. So I've always kind of had come with an interest with connecting belonging with with kind of grading and assessment.Dr. Kate Mori:
Right. Thank you. Thanks. And Sam, if I can come to you next place.Professor Sam Broadhead:
Well, I was course leader for our first postgraduate taught degree after the university got taught degree awarding powers. And my own research is around access and widening participation. So, themes that I was seeing in my own research, I also kind of observed when I took over course leadership of the MA in creative practice, which was aimed at a wide range of creative practitioners. And it ran and it was graded. And then we went through periodic review. And we we use this as an opportunity to include the staff, the academic staff, that taught in the program, to think radically about the program and the kind of changes that we thought would be really helpful to make. So I want to say that this is a collaborative approach. It wasn't just me as the course leader. So that's where my interest came from. And I'll talk more when we address the questions.Dr. Kate Mori:
Thank you. Thanks, Sam. And Peter. Thanks,Peter Hughes:
Morning, everybody. So I think as I said, I'm Academic Development Manager at Leeds Arts Uni. Basically I'm I'm an educational developer evolved from being a geography environmental studies academic in the first half of my career. What brought me to pass fail most recently, in the last six months or so, similar to Neil's story, really. We found ourselves as an institution, looking at the different approaches that we were introducing during the pandemic, in terms of adjusting assessment practices, and one of one of the practices that we introduced last academic year for level four students was that all that all level 4 modules, first year modules, would be Pass/Fail only. So within the context of that decision, I was asked to just sort of investigate the sort of territory of Pass/Fail. Within the HE sector, sort of drawing on, I suppose my sort of background, but also other contexts. So some folks here who are on the CEDA list may remember, about a few months ago, I sort of relaunched a discussion around pass/ fail there. And that led to some interesting conversations with colleagues who were using pass/ fail, but also basically getting into the literature around that. So that informed basically a sort of review type committee paper that I developed at Leeds Arts to sort of feed into our decision making around that. So most of what I will talk about today comes from that body of work in terms of investigating where the sector is in relation to sort of pass /fail. And I will probably talk less about the sort of specific natural experiment that we introduced last year with the level four students. Given, we're still sort of evaluating that and working out what happened.Dr. Kate Mori:
Right. Thanks, everyone. I just think that's really useful, just to sort of set the context before we're into the questions which which will be fascinating to your response. So we going in really, with obviously, a lot.... I'm on that CEDA list piece, and, you know, lots of discussion springing forth from that. So something that really is of interest to people. And what are the benefits of pass/ fail? You know, that that's something that we need in our institutions..... It may be a bit more might this pass fail, potentially. So what are the benefits? And that's, that's open to anyone who wants to take that first.Professor Sam Broadhead:
I mean, I can talk about it from my experience, teaching a course that was graded and then went to pass/ fail. We noticed that one of the reasons we employed this method of assessment was that we were thinking about what is the course for? First of all, what, what do we want the outcomes of this program to be? And basically, we wanted people to be creative practitioners, but also to be able to sustain their practice after they're graduated from their Masters, and that they would have the resources and the networks and the collaborations to succeed long term. And the kind of the method of grading, we saw that students were still enacting grade chasing behaviors that they'd learned in previous educational sectors. And they were, it seemed to us to be in contradiction to the MA characteristics. And when we did start the non grading assessment, we saw less competition between the students and mark collaboration, at more sharing. There was a more of a creative collaborative culture between the students that began to flourish. And the conversation was about learning rather than achieving high grades. Students were better able to employ their own internal mechanisms for evaluating the quality of their work, rather than asking the tutor or asking the tutor what they needed to do to get a higher grade. I feel that fits in very well with this idea of a master student being able to look set their own agendas for success, looking at the evidence being able to draw upon a wide range of complex evidence to make their own judgments. I also think about it within the context of the course is that it allowed us to have assessment for creative practitioners that had very different practices, because we had photographers, we had graphic designers, we had textile artists, we had fine artists. They all they all had a creative practice, but the kind of activities that they were doing would be very different and the value that they would put on those different activities. It was a very diverse course and pass/ fail methodology really was a part of that. From a staff point of view. And Jan's talk, really, it was so amazing because she talked about joy. And there was a feeling of joy that there was conversations about learning about creative practice. Rather than thinking about grades and grade boundaries, staff were focusing on the threshold of what a pass would be. And there was no idiosyncrasies of mathematics or logarithms thrown up around assessment, which, you know, in a way takes the responsibility of assessment away from the assessor. The regulations were clearer. And there were less suspensions of studies, less, we had actually in, when we instigated this, we had no late submissions. So those were the range of outcomes that that we saw. And, of course, it is contextualized, within particular level and a particular subject.Dr Neil Currant:
To add to that, I mean, our past fair research was first year, so it's undergraduate. So so different contexts, and I would, a lot of those are very similar to what we found. I would also to say, I think one of the big things that we saw was that students felt there was a reduction in stress and anxiety. You know, students really talk about grades causing a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety. And so that pass fail, particularly during the pandemic was a real, really helped them calm down and come into university transition into university and feel they could get their feet, if you like, under the table, and not have to worry about performing as Sam was just saying, this kind of performing and chasing grades kind of thing, kind of went out the window. Obviously, it helped with specialist equipment, you know, obviously, students often produce really, you know, need specialist equipment in the studio, and so on. And that kind of in the pandemic situation that wasn't possible. So, again, reduce the anxiety and not having to produce all these, these this kind of focus on the product, but but focus on the process of learning and being creative. And I think, definitely, that allowed some students to be more creative and focus on learning and not chasing grades, as Sam has said. And I think Intriguingly, we got some data that suggests that our progression rates for Black and Asian students have increased relative to their white peers. So the gap of progression has actually decreased during the period when we had pass/ fail. And now, you know, it's an unusual period, it's kind of one set one limited set of data. But it's certainly really intriguing to think about, you know, awarding gaps, and and wonder whether, you know, as Jan said, the more differentiation is of grades you have, does that actually somehow create or contribute to awarding gaps for for some students,Peter Hughes:
if I could carry on maybe then with just sort of recapping the synthesis of the ideas that are that I was encountering in the literature and in conversations with people and some of this will be just re emphasizing the points that that Sam and Neil have made. The educational rationale, if you like, the student learning rationale, is sort of strongly informed by the phenomenographic student learning literature around grades... We've known for decades that grades exert an influence on student learning behavior, that they extrinsically drive motivation rather than intrinsically. So removing grading is seen as a way of encouraging students to focus more productively on learning rather than on grade chasing. And there are some studies especially good there's a good study that Chris Ross directed us to on in that discussion on the CEDA list, from Sweden, by Bulger and colleagues, which explicitly looked at the different learning approaches of students in pass/ fail environments and courses as opposed to focus on typically graded courses. And they were able to discern some, some quite substantial differences in approaches to learning, which has been interesting. And from that, I guess you could summarize that students in pass/ fail environments seem to be focusing more on the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge - they're seeing this as a space to develop and express that knowledge right than just simply touching up on the knowledge and others. Related to that, which I think has been alluded to as well, and I think it's particularly interesting and relevant in an art education context is that taking away the focus on grades, allows students to take risks a little bit more. And if you're trying to encourage risk taking within a relatively safe environment or education, taking away some of that theory associated with with grades and so on, then pass/ fail approach can help with that. As Sam mentioned, there is evidence that students move towards more collaborative than competitive approaches in a pass/ fail environment. So they are more likely to work with each other and to explore the potential of themselves and their fellow students as a cohort, rather than seeing themselves as being in competition with each other, for particular grades. More broadly, in relation to assessment literacy, because pass/ fail grading is a new and different practice for people who get engaged in it, it does open up fundamental questions around what assessment is for and how it happens. And because you need to have those discussions, if you're doing pass/ fail grading, it's been seen that that that will make a positive contribution to staff on to student assessment literacy. And that can be sustained beyond the point at which you might be doing sort of pass/fail grading. So for example, if you have pass/ fail grading at level four, that will enhance assessment literacy so that even if you return to a more typically graded system later on in, in a degree, some of the benefits of that, in terms of, again, what Sam was talking about in terms of student self evaluation, and so on, as part of assessment literacy, will still be there. Sam mentioned issues around reliability, if I can sort of use that word, with it being a buzzword as well. The fact that you in pass/ fail, are looking at a single point of discrimination means that staff become much more confident in being being able to calibrate their assessment practices. So essentially, you develop as a course team, as a teaching team, a sort of clear distinction, and a shared understanding amongst yourselves. And you're not distracted by the different grading descriptors that you might know will that you do get drawn into with a graded approach. Couple more things, just sort of capture things going forward. There, there is some evidence out there that if you free up the learning environment for students in this way, and take away the sort of grade-chasing behavior that encourages students to explore other opportunities beyond their formal curriculum. So you so you may see a better uptake of co curricular and extra curricular learning activities that students may be discouraged to, because they want to focus just on their work and their grade. There is very much a student welfare perspective, as Neil talked about, especially in terms of reducing stress and anxiety, although we'll return to that point when when we look at some of the problems with pass/ fail as well. And just generally, I think, obviously, depending where, where you introduced us, but but supporting transition, and induction depending on where, you might introduce this within within the course of study, pass/fail has been helpful in regards to that. And that also feeds into, I guess, broadly seeing it as as potentially an inclusive form of assessment because the focus is on really each individual student's journey and their progression through that, rather than a sort of competitive environment within that, achieving achieving certain grades. So a broad set of claims made for pass /fail assessment, and, you know, a modest amount of evidence out there in various studies, international studies, and examples in the UK, around sort of education or student welfare, and other advantages of pass/fail.Dr. Kate Mori:
Thanks, Peter. I'm going to start segway into the next question, but just a question that that springs to mind is it's quite a cultural shift this for many students who have come through a system with with a heavy focus on grading, and of course, some of those students may have performed incredibly well in that system. And I just wonder how you work with those students that maybe are a little resistant to this because they they know they can perform well, they've developed the techniques, and so on and so forth. And for them, they need a differentiator between their high performance and very, very inverted commas, someone else's minimal performance. And I wondered if you'd hit against that. And if you had how you've overcome that?Professor Sam Broadhead:
Well, in practice, we started talking about the pass/fail, right from the open days, we were like, vote is about being open and transparent, so that students knew what they were signing up to. So we talked about open days, we used to do interviews. So when we interviewed the students, prospective students, we talked about it then we talked about inductions whenever we did briefings, so it was very much integrated into the curriculum. And it's part of the curriculum. And I think we were talking about how people on the course, what were they on the course for, what was the end goal. And we, you know, again, made it very transparent on our end goal is that these people, were creative practitioners, and be able to survive when that course was not there anymore. And, you know, we saw that this was a way of these people becoming independent thinkers, but also being able to network and collaborate and have a community of practice. You know, that, you know, to my knowledge, some of these students still have those communities of practice, you know, three or four, five years after graduation,Dr. Kate Mori:
it's attention, possibly, isn't it? So if we look at it may draw, it may lead us nicely into, you know, what are the drawbacks? So we've looked at the positives there. But, you know, are there any drawbacks? And what do you think they may be?Dr Neil Currant:
I think, I think the question you asked before is probably the main drawback - is that, that the no students have been socialized for grades are like, I mean, to, maybe an analogy, but they're almost like drugs for some students in the sense that they may not be good for them, but they need them they need that validation. Jan talked about, you know, that this circular argument about, but I'm an A-grade student, therefore, I must get an A. But what's the purpose of an A - it becomes this very circular thing. And so quite a few of our students definitely had that, that behavior of being grade-seeking, you know, even to the extent that they really struggled to understand their feedback without the grade. So even when staff were using the wording of our assessment criteria, students weren't hearing that, they were hearing 'you passed', and is really interesting that they were missing the feedback on the words of the feedback. And we found that the word pass was associated with 'just' so it's 'just' a pass. You know, I just passed this language repeated again and again, by students. We weren't even asking them that question. But they kept repeating this kind of idea. It was 'just a pass' as though to them a pass meant a C or D grade. It wasn't the A-grade that they were used to. And even when they got that feedback, they said, Oh, this is excellent. Your work is, you know, they still were saying is 'just a pass'. So I think I think that whole kind of social conditioning is, was definitely the biggest problem. And I think that what that led to then, because we had a graded second year. So pass/fail first year, and then back to letter grade, the second year, then students were really then worried in their transition to the second year about, but I don't know what grade I'm on. I don't know where I'm standing. Because I haven't got that grade going forward.Peter Hughes:
Yeah, I mean, if I can build on that a little bit, and possibly repeat some of that as well. But but, I mean, in a sense, this binary of pass/fail with we're tripping over the language, because, as Neil said, especially with that idea of 'just passing'. And I think that that's one of the things that comes through the literature and the experience of people that have introduced this that there is a worry fat for some students, because of that association with the idea of 'just' a pass needed, that in fact, it becomes demotivating to some degree and perhaps encourages behavior that's more like coasting rather than development and progression and growth as a learner. I think it's fair to say that both students and staff are skeptical about pass grading, pass/fail grading within the context of the question that you raised early because graded systems also hardwired into the educational experiences, certainly in the UK, but largely around around the world as well. Taking that away leaves to some degree an emptiness and it challenges some of the strategies and this goes for successful students as well as sort of high end achieving students, shall we say, rather than successful, who received part of their personal validation and identity almost from the idea of getting A's and taking that away destabilised stuff. Of course, as educationalists, we're interested in creating spaces for our students that destabilize things, and out of that, there is an opportunity for learning. But that has to be done in a way obviously, which is in the theme of today's event, compassionate. And there is some evidence, especially from the work colleagues at National University of Singapore, Chris Morin and colleagues there have done around quite long standing initiative they do, they're now with Pass/ Fail grading in their first semester, were actually, the pass/fail environment also can add to stress and anxiety because of its unfamiliarity. So although we had reduction of stress and anxiety, as one of our positives, they have found some evidence that for some students, there are some situations where actually it's worth it's worked the other way. So those are some some of the factors there. I think another point I just mentioned, that that we've sort of come across is where pass/fail grading is sort of alongside other more traditional graded environments, that dilutes its power. So if it hasn't been done as sort of as a as an elastic way, there's always a sense that it's sort of a bit of a marginal marginal outlier activity. And that perception can go even through to the scale of the whole institution being sort of concerned about Pass Fail grading, being slightly deviant behavior, if you like, and an out of the norm of the sector, and that might sort of discourage in engagement with it. So yeah, I think that those are the main sorts of ideas that I've that I've, I've encountered, associated in a more sort of more challenges, I guess, associated with with pass/fail grading, which I think with good design, you can address and overcome, but they're definitely part of the environment that you need to think about when you're when you're bringing it forward.Professor Sam Broadhead:
Yeah, can I can I just briefly add as well, which kind of builds on that is that what pass /fail does is it can shine a spotlight on any deficiencies there are in feedback. So I think feedback is important. No matter what assessment process you use, it's incredibly important. But when you don't have that, that grade that or that number, or that letter, you really should have really good feedback. And by that I don't mean lots of feedback. I mean, targeted, personalized, dialogic feedback.Dr. Kate Mori:
Thanks, all. And it's interesting, there's just some comments in the chat about, you know, a resistance to remove marks, for example, from sort of PG cap courses and such like that. And I wonder, you're just sort of moving into into the next question, which is about, you know, recommendations for for staff and institutions using pass/fail, that, that possibly many academics who are teaching have actually done very well through the grading system themselves. And I wonder if that becomes part of the discussion. So it's really just sort of putting that one out there. And then looking at what recommendations you would have for staff and institutions that may be considering a pass/fail system, but but don't actually do that at the minute.Peter Hughes:
I can click off if you like on that on that. I think strategically thinking about where you might introduce it. So we've got some examples here today of level four, and we've got masters level and I think there are reasons for that. Level four is an interesting space in UK Higher Education. Because I'm going to use the phrase which is used, it does not count for the degree, the idea of not counting. But it does provide a space where perhaps people are a little bit more able to, to sort of take some risks around that. And similarly, perhaps, depending on the discipline at masters level, this sort of idea of chasing a distinction or merit, which are the sort of typical graded bands at masters level is perhaps not as deeply ingrained as this sort of the idea of your first, your2:1, your 2:
2 is for undergraduate, and generally, I think students engaging with master's level study are perhaps, I think this has changed, certainly in the last sort of 15-20 years, as more and more student students are getting into masters, but I think generally are sort of approaching it from a more mature perspective. And I think certainly the experiences that Sam's had on her courses, but what we can, can talk to that as well. So that's one thing is just thinking strategically. The second one is just remember that your assessment is connected to everything else. And great grading is connected to all other bits of assessment. And assessment is connected to, to student learning into teaching. So you can't just drop in pass/fail grading, and not expect there to be ripples throughout everything else that you do, how you mark how you teach, how students and think about their learning. So you really do need to think about it holistically in terms of... and anticipate some of those relationships and how you might manage that. Reinforcing I think what Sam said earlier, absolutely, you need to work with your students very carefully, if you're introducing it and make it a big part of the conversation, because it will seem unfamiliar, and keep that going. But you know, that's a good assessment literacy principle anyway, in relation to, to any practice. But in in addition to that, and I would recommend that the studies from from Singapore in particular around this who have investigated that the sort of staff experience of this, staff need a lot of support and development and advice and spaces for talking through this, as well. So sometimes you will read about these initiatives as almost as sort of personal passion projects at one person that sort of brought it into their own module and so on. And we can learn something from that. But where you've had large scale initiatives of people, you know, staff not electing into it, but being told, this is what we're doing, you really do need to give the space and time to, to work that through with with staff, it's quite a big, big change project, really. You do need to think about, if you like, that issue of students who want the grades as their indicates of success. Some of the pass/fail initiatives out there have introduced in parallel, sort of different award schemes, or prize based schemes to give some indicators to students for successful engagement or achievement in certain areas. And that's been seen as helpful for activating different aspects of motivation, if I was going to be like in a pass/fail environment. And the other one is also, you know, obviously, to think about evaluation, if you're going if you're going to be introducing it, then you need to be thinking about how you going to be understanding how it is working. But that goes again to every every educational change initiative that we that we bring forward.Dr. Kate Mori:
Thanks, Peter, if I can move on to Neil now, please, just to look at any top tips you may have,Dr Neil Currant:
I think pretty much what Peter said we've found the ual you know. It was one of those things that happened in an emergency situation, and a lot of staff were really unsure how to do it. And that came out very, very clearly. Some staff are keen and I think we have this pragmatic issue of - I can't almost see an institution going right the whole thing is going to be pass/fail. It would just be such an outlier within the UK sector. I don't think anyone would dare do that. I mean, I remember when a previous institution started using GPA as well as the classic normal undergraduate classification that was hard enough but you still they still get the the other classification. So I think pragmatically then it becomes this, it does become this where do you put it in the curriculum? What happens? Do you have and I think for me, it's around where the particular outcomes in that space are better suited to pass/fail when colleagues, as Peter said, want to design the curriculum to do certain things, whether in the case of Art and Design, it's around creativity, taking risks, sense of belonging, and where your grading system can really help you in that space, that would be for me one of the, one of the key things. Yeah, and I suppose, kind of thinking about the ripple effects that you really need to look at your regulations to see if those regulations accommodate pass/fail. So I'll give an example. late submission; the regulations mark penalties for late submission, you know, so many marks for so many days late, with of course in a pass/fail, you can't do that. So how you're going to manage late submissions, what process you're going to put in place? And it also draws to attention that we do use marks as a kind of punishment, you know, for late submission. And is that how we should be using assessment? You know, so it's about really rethinking core ideas about education. And that takes a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of work.Dr. Kate Mori:
Thank you. And I suppose it's tricky when the sort of honors degree bandings, as well relate to certain gradings. You know, students may want to monitor what they're on track to graduate with, which may add complexity. So we'll open up for questions fairly soon. But there's just sort of a more generic one, really, which is, why do you think pass/fail isn't used more widely? It may be in pockets, so there may be resistance from from across the sector, to it to fully embrace it, and it's just if you had any thoughts as to why that may be?Dr Neil Currant:
I think I hear one of the big reasons is employers and employment. We know, Jan talked a lot about this and is driven by, you know, this whole cutoff point that the to one that's been a traditional thing about graduate employment, you know, if we don't give them students, those those classifications, what are the employers gonna do, you know, this whole kind of idea of sorting people out into different levels so that employers can pick the cream of the crop if you like, and I do think that plays a huge part in a fear of not sort of embracing pass fail more broadly. And then you've got the pressure from the other side of the education system, as we've talked about, as well with secondary education, and the kind of obsession with grade inflation about, again, sorting students, getting students into the right kind of universities and all of that stuff that goes on. So it's such a - both ends of the university, you know, into university, out of university, there's a lot of pressure there, I think that makes it very, very hard to do anything within the university space.Professor Sam Broadhead:
And I think there's obviously been a lot of movement with credit and qualification frameworks, to kind of unify accreditation and qualifications. So they're coherent and rational, and are transferable. So you do a module in one place, and you can go to another place. And all those aspirations for qualifications being unified are great. However, one of the side effects of that is that it doesn't allow for radical thinking, or experimentation or innovation, around qualifications and assessment. So, you know, I think it's a difficult space to make changes inPeter Hughes:
I think, I'm gonna return to a point that sort of Jan made earlier on really that assert certain view of assessment is deeply ingrained in in the sort of neoliberal universities that that we are working within. I'll just share an example on on that front, I'm on the open day circuit with my son at the moment, looking at universities, and just this Saturday gone by we were on the other side of the country, happened to be the University that I went to myself, and one of the subject talks was talking about the first year and so on, about how, you know, they're really trying to encourage students to achieve to the best and to get the highest grade, even though, you know, there was only perhaps a certain amount for for progression needed, but still emphasizing that that sort of grade focus. And then later on when we were on a student that tour, I think around the sports center, the student I was saying, oh, yeah, in the first year, don't worry, you just need to get 40%, to get through and, and it was just interesting to me that just in ultimately, that wasn't necessarily that relevant for the day that we're on. But it was just a natural part of the discussion and the conversation is about grades and about bands and what you need for achievement on what counts and what doesn't count. And because I think that pass fail, ultimately, is a fairly radical concept and a new concept, it is a challenge for people to get their head around. I have just seen fleetingly coming through on the chat some, some some mentions of medical education and so on and it is worth mentioning, mentioning that in a medical education context, especially in areas where the focus is on judging whether someone is competent to do something or not pass/ fail is actually quite established and people are quite confident in using it. And it is also worth remembering that things like integrated masters courses, we don't have the degree classifications as well. So there are in different disciplines, different cultures around this, but I think the big inhibitor is yeah, this hardwired, deeply ingrained, focus on grading that goes through the entire education system, until - we've not mentioned up to now but it always comes up until we reach PhD- PhD - Pass/Fail assessment.About this episode:
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