Assessment strategies for pluralism



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Assessment strategies for pluralism

  • Andrew Mearman
  • (University of the West of England)
  • and Don Webber
  • (Auckland University of Technology)
  • Teaching one view
  • May create unreasonable certainty
  • May demotivate those who question
  • May not challenge the lecturer
  • May not provide information useful to the student
  • May not aid policy analysis
  • May achieve reduced depth

Economic theory and policy

  • Aims:
    • Expose students to theory and policy debates
    • Develop students’ knowledge within and across theoretical perspectives
    • Demand students display critical thinking and find evidential bases for claims
    • Demand students recognise limitations of all theory and develop judgement

Assessment and pluralism

  • We adopted the following assessment strategy:
    • Presentations
      • These covered topics which built on each other during the course of the module
      • Students in group presentations were particularly encouraged to take perspectives which were in stark contrast to other presenters’ perspectives
      • A variety of literature needed to be made available for the students. The lecturer needed to source the variety of perspectives for the students in advance.
    • Assessed discussions
    • Essay
    • Exam

Assessment and pluralism

  • We adopted the following assessment strategy:
    • Presentations
    • Assessed discussions
      • Open questions.
      • Students knew and prepared for assessed discussion in advance
      • Students were encouraged to follow their own personal thoughts, backed up by theory and empirical evidence
      • Needed 2 members of staff present
    • Essay
    • Exam

Assessment and pluralism

  • We adopted the following assessment strategy:
    • Presentations
    • Assessed discussions
    • Essay (2000 words)
      • E.g. “Should we reduce income inequalities if we wish to reduce unemployment?”
      • “Economic policy making in open economies requires, above all, more sophisticated economic modelling”. Discuss
    • Exam

Assessment and pluralism

  • We adopted the following assessment strategy:
    • Presentations
    • Assessed discussions
    • Essay
    • Exam
      • Lomax (2004, p. 1) says that “success has many parents, and the trend to low inflation is no exception. But there is a broad consensus that better monetary policies run by more independent and more open central banks can claim a significant share of the credit”. Constructively criticise this perspective with reference to a range of literature.

Student feedback:

  • “the most difficult module I took, but also the most rewarding”
  • “difficult assessment, but an important skill to develop”
  • Students seemed to put in more effort to make sure they didn’t lose face in front of their friends (peer pressure).
  • Students marked generally harder but remained positive about module

But…

  • “I do not see the relevance of discussion, apart from the building of confidence”
  • “hard to know what was going to come up”
  • “More structure (in assessed discussions) needed…difficult to know if a point is being laboured”
  • “it took my time away from study for other modules”
  • “I think this assessed discussion was a lot harder than the last one due to the lack of information accessible to me, whereas before there were around 50 journals [articles], this time I struggled to find 5”

Conclusions:

  • Don’t follow this path!
    • It takes too much time and effort!
  • Try this pluralistic teaching method.
    • It might even increase the utility you receive from teaching!


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