Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    Facilitating Collaborative Foreign Language Learning Using the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
    (, 2017-11-10)
    Learning a second language takes time and many university students in their evaluation of language modules indicate that they would like to have more teaching "contact hours". The Bologna Process has established that 1 ECTS requires approximately 25 hours of student work, including teaching, learning and assessment activities. Thus, a module worth 5 ECTS entails approximately 125 hours of student engagement. Digital technologies afford student the support needed to increase the time they spend on learning a language and, more importantly, these technologies provide opportunities to facilitate learning with others in a supported learning environment. This paper explains a number of e-learning tasks undertaken by university students of Spanish using tools that are available on Blackboard, the Virtual Learning Environment used by the university, to complement classroom activities. The paper also identifies the skills (e.g. language specific and transferable) that students have developed by completing the learning tasks. Reflections from the students and the teacher provide insights about the advantages of using collaborative learning tasks to increase learning time. Some limitations are also outlined so that future iterations of similar e-learning tasks can be even more successful in terms of student learning experience.
  • Publication
    Learning-oriented Assessment: Beyond a Marriage of Convenience
    (AISHE, 2007-08-31)
    This paper aims at examining the effectiveness of students’ learning when they are involved in self- and peer-assessment practices as part of a final-year module in Hispanic Studies at University College Dublin. The two research questions that arose are as follows: 1) In what way can learners be involved in the development of criteria to be adopted for selfand peer assessment purposes? 2) What is the impact of that involvement in their learning? Birenbaum (1996) states that in the new assessment culture learners are active participants who share responsibility with the teacher in the assessment process. In the light of research literature on self- and peer-assessment practices, a case study was conducted on a final-year undergraduate class (N=20) who entered the module having being exposed to traditional methods of assessment, mainly essay writing and end-of-year written exam papers. Innovative assessment practices were integrated into the teaching and learning process. The first part of this paper describes how learners were involved in the development of assessment criteria to be adopted in the assessment of their work and in that of their peers. It is followed by an analysis of the impact that such experience had on students’ learning, based on the learners’ reflections about the process and on a short survey conducted at the end of the module. The findings of the study indicate that such approach to teaching and assessment had a positive impact on students' learning. Benefits arising from integrating assessment into learning include the development of students’ ownership of their learning through assessment and a better understanding of the features of different written texts. Some possible shortcomings are also identified. Finally, the pedagogical implications that learning-oriented assessment entails for the teaching of foreign languages to university students are also outlined.
  • Publication
    Does continuous assessment in higher education support student learning?
    (Springer, 2012-10)
    A distinction is often made in the literature about “assessment of learning” and “assessment for learning” attributing a formative function to the latter while the former takes a summative function. While there may be disagreements among researchers and educators about such categorical distinctions there is consensus that both types of assessment are often used concurrently in higher education institutions. A question that often arises when formative and summative assessment practices are used in continuous assessment is the extent to which student learning can be facilitated through feedback. The views and perceptions of students and academics from a discipline in the Humanities across seven higher education institutions were sought to examine the above question. A postal survey was completed by academics, along with a survey administered to a sample of undergraduate students and a semi-structured interview was conducted with key academics in each of the seven institutions. This comparative study highlights issues that concern both groups about the extent to which continuous assessment practices facilitate student learning and the challenges faced. The findings illustrate the need to consider more effective and efficient ways in which feedback can be better used to facilitate student learning.
      1059Scopus© Citations 134
  • Publication
    Teaching and learning across disciplines : student and staff experiences in a newly modularised system
    Within modular degrees it is sometimes possible for students to broaden their education by taking modules from outside their main programme of study. This is one significant aspect of modular degrees which has not been studied. In an effort to better understand this issue, the research reported in this paper explored the experiences (a) of students taking modules from outside their programme of study and (b) of staff teaching modules with significant numbers of students from other programmes. In total, 820 undergraduate students responded to an on-line survey; 12 academic staff members participated in interviews. The survey focused on students’ reasons for choosing the module, their experiences of assessment and their perceptions of workload. Interviews with academic staff focused on the influence of non-programme students on teaching and assessment practices. The discussion addresses the implications of student choice and classroom diversity for teaching and assessment in modular systems.
      763Scopus© Citations 11
  • Publication
    LivIing Abroad: Irish Erasmus Students Experiences' of Integration in Spain
    (SciencePress, 2019-05-01)
    Living and studying in another country requires students to pursue a process of integration into a number of areas of life, among them university itself, as well as social and cultural events and day-today activities, all of which require the building of relationships. As English has become the lingua franca in many countries, English-speaking students nowadays face increased challenges to using Spanish as a means of communication to fully integrate into the host country. This paper identifies the strategies employed by a cohort of students from an Irish university during their year abroad in Spain with the aim of explaining their process of integration into the host country. The data used for this study were an integral part of a module completed by the students during their study abroad, where students wrote two reflective assignments in Spanish to analyse their experiences during study abroad. Results show that students who made efforts to move out of their comfort zone had a positive experience of integration. The experiences of students who did not integrate so successfully are discussed and recommendations that may be relevant for students and institutions in their preparation for study abroad are provided.
  • Publication
    Increasing Student Engagement through Collaborative Learning Outside the Classroom
    (Simonelli Editore, 2012-06-08)
    Several factors, including the Bologna process, the embargo on university posts and a larger student population pursuing degrees, have contributed to radical changes in teaching, learning and assessment in Higher Education in the last few years. It was in this context that a collaborative component has been introduced into a Level 2 Spanish Language module at University College Dublin. This paper presents the rationale for introducing a collaborative component into this module and it describes the self-directed tasks completed by the students. It also addresses the extent to which collaborative learning outside the classroom contributes to the enhancement of student learning and it examines the obstacles encountered by the students during the semester. The discussion of the findings focuses on feedback from the students and on group reflections submitted via Blackboard, the university's Virtual Learning Environment.
  • Publication
    Student Engagement in Learning-Oriented Assessment: A Case Study
    (Longbridge, 2012-09-01)
    Although ‘student engagement’ has become a frequently used term particularly among those involved in research associated with teaching and learning, it should be noted that student engagement in assessment for learning is a novel practice, which is slowly making its way into higher education pedagogy. This article presents an evaluative analysis of student engagement in assessment for learning conducted on a group of undergraduate students from an Irish university, on the basis of qualitative data gathered from their written journals and feedback exercises. The findings indicate that students valued positively the experience; they also acknowledge that engagement in assessment had a great beneficial impact on their learning. Some limitations of the process are also identified. Finally, a number of pedagogical implications arising from the experience of student engagement in assessment for learning in third level education are also outlined.
  • Publication
    How Technology Can Enhance Learning through Assessment and Reflection
    (Peter Lang, 2014-12-16)
    Gibbs (2006: 23) states that ‘assessment frames learning’ and more importantly that ‘it has more impact on learning than does teaching’. If we accept this assertion to be true, there is an argument for ensuring that assessment is integrated into the learning process to guarantee that it does in fact contribute to student learning. However, the relationship between assessment and learning is often problematic, given that ‘assessment is about several things at once’ (Ramsden 2003: 177), or what Boud (2000: 160) refers to as ‘double duty’. Among other things, assessment is about grading and reporting students’ achievements and about supporting students in their learning. Furthermore, if assessment focuses on grades, attention shifts away from what students need to improve (Sadler 1989) and it tends to have little impact on learning. The challenge for teachers then is to shift the balance towards learning even when grades are involved. This chapter illustrates how assessment for learning has been implemented in two modules taught at a university in Ireland, an undergraduate module where the assessment described does not carry a grade and a graduate module in which self-assessment and reflection are graded as part of a microteaching task completed by the students.
  • Publication
    Collaborative Learning: Increasing Students' Engagement Outside the Classroom
    (David Publishing, 2012-09)
    Several factors, including the Bologna process, the embargo on university posts and a larger student population pursuing degrees, have contributed to radical changes in teaching, learning and assessment in Irish higher education in the last few years. Challenges to academics have resulted in curriculum reform and, most importantly, in innovative practices in which the curriculum is delivered and assessed. It was in this context that a collaborative component has been introduced into Level 2 Spanish language modules at University College Dublin. A small action research project has been undertaken to explore the students’ views about this innovative way of learning. This article addresses the extent to which collaborative learning outside the classroom contributes to the enhancement of student learning and it examines the obstacles encountered by the students during the semester. The discussion of the findings focuses on feedback from the students and on group reflections submitted via Blackboard, the university’s VLE (virtual learning environment).
  • Publication
    Supporting student learning through collaborative assessment tasks
    (Nova Science, 2013-06)
    The significance of student learning as a social activity often manifests itself in collaborative learning through interaction and interdependence in higher education contexts. Approaches such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL), task-based learning and project work are examples of collaborative learning. However, the translation of collaborative learning into collaborative assessment is not always successfully accomplished, and often the collaborative learning approaches are abandoned in favour of ‘individual’ assessment practices graded by academics; and, even when students are involved in collaborative assessment, their dissatisfaction is often reported in the literature. This chapter makes a case for student interaction through peer-assessment tasks as a way of supporting collaborative learning. It draws on data collected from students and faculty staff from several higher education institutions in Ireland on the subject of peer assessment. Discussion of the findings highlights that staff and students, in principle, support collaborative assessment, but its actual implementation seems to be less apparent. It is argued that failure to recognise the potential of collaborative student peer assessment tasks may be due to views of assessment held by faculty staff and by students, and to students not being sufficiently prepared for involvement in collaborative assessment. A number of proposals are suggested and substantiated by practices already implemented by the author, which are intended to move forward the current debate on the topic of collaborative assessment and pedagogical praxis.