In various guises – oral, video, poster, website – student presentations are becoming a well-established form of coursework assessment in twenty-first century higher education. They provide a means not only of developing students’ ability to communicate information and ideas beyond the traditional written form, and within a given time-frame, but also of putting students’ learning on open display, so that they can learn from and with one another.
In the HKU Common Core Curriculum, presentations are a form of assessment in about two out of five Scientific and Technological Literacy courses, and in around one-quarter of courses in the other three Areas of Inquiry. Typically, presentations have a weighting of between 20% and 30% of the overall grade for a course.
Assessing in-class participation
In universities and colleges, the practice of assessing students’ participation in timetabled classes is widespread and well-established. Participation in tutorials or seminars is the most common focus of this type of assessment, but it can also be applied to workshops, practicals, fieldwork and lectures.
Although the use of assessed groupwork in higher education can be challenging, it has a powerful contribution to make to the enhancement of student learning when well-implemented and appropriately assessed. The assessment of groupwork has grown over the last decade, and around half of the Common Core Courses in the University of Hong Kong (HKU) currently make use of it to evaluate students’ learning, as a recent analysis of the Common Core Curriculum (CCC) Student Handbook showed. It was also evident that the percentages of courses adopting groupwork assessment were similar across the four CCC Areas of Inquiry.
Patterns of assessment reflect distinctive features of the new Common Core curricula: greater diversity in learning and assessment; encouragement to work interactively and collaboratively as well as individually; and a concern to develop students’ capabilities to communicate their knowledge and understanding in a range of forms – written, oral, multimedia – as well as in academic, social and workplace settings.