Staff Testimonials and Brief Reports

Mr Shaveen Singh, Coordinator for UU100 Information and Communication Literacy


“ … Research an important component of learning and life. Our journey with RSD Framework implementation started in early 2012 and we have definitely seen the benefits over the past few semesters. Initially, we had to invest some time in the development of rubrics. This included a relook at our pre-existing assessment items; identify the facets of enquiry in the assessed items and the expected level of student autonomy in each facet. It was a collaborative development process and the rubric has evolved over the semesters with input and feedback from our staff and students.
The course, UU100, already had a few assessed topics on Information Literacy which introduced students to effective research strategies. However, the entire RSD exercise and rubric creation has ensured that there is guided consultation and explicit expectations from the students. The rubric is used as a consistent reference for all and covered all facets of research. The TAs have reported that the marking time has reduced for assessments as most comments are explained in the rubric itself. Having an explicit framework helped identify overlaps across our assessments and assures us that research skill is consistently being developed in our students…”

Dr Sereima Naisilisili, Coordinator for ED153 Education and Society


I trialed the RSD rubric with a group of 100-level students taking an undergraduate education course in Semester 1, 2013. The group consisted of 207 students who were taking ED153 through DFL and Face-to-Face modes. I focused on the RSD marking rubric for one of the assignments – a research assignment and the benefits, reliability and applicability led me to decide on incorporating RSD again in the 2014 course offering.

I found the following experiences to be enriching:

  • It was easier to connect to the researcher’s experiences through each phase of research. This was possible as the rubric reflected the performance of the researcher at each phase and provided a structure that was easy to follow.
  • The weighting of each phase, provided a more consistent way of measuring students’ understanding of the research process which was a key learning outcome of this introductory research assignment.
  • The inclusion of features such as analyze and synthesize, evaluate and reflect, communicate and apply gave more meaning to the marks at a glance and they complemented the comments within the script or text. It saved time writing extensive comments.

I think the rubric would provide comprehensive knowledge and skills relevant for educational research.

Dr Shaneel Chandra, Coordinator for CH101 Chemical Principles


Background

The RSD was incorporated in CH 101 from 18 March 2013. The focus of the RSD initiative in the experiments was to inculcate the facets of research into report writing, with a view to until in the students an appreciation that to be able to write proper research-based reports, they need to design appropriate experiments and obtain relevant data.

All students were informed of these points, and the RSD-aligned marking rubrics were provided to them to ensure they were aware of our expectations from them in report writing. Our draft version of the rubrics was supplied to the students while Dr John Willison worked on revising and condensing the same. On 15 April, we were given the revised comprehensive form of the rubrics, which is the form adopted for the rest of the semester.

Student feedback

We also sought student feedback on the RSD rubrics from students through a (numerical choice) survey on Moodle to evaluate student perceptions on the rubrics: the form, ease of use, effectiveness in elevating student progress, and its effect on student workload. Only 74 students out of 500 responded which was disappointing. Yet meaningful views were obtained. Notable sentiments are summarised below:

  • Generally students felt the rubrics were demanding, but helped improve their report writing.
  • Students strongly agreed the rubrics helped them know what the markers’ and instructors’ expectations were of their reports.
  • There was also some agreement that the rubrics helped students score higher marks then before implementation.
  • Students also indicated they needed more time to write reports using the rubrics than the two-week period given.

Staff feedback

We also sought staff perceptions towards rubrics and the effect of these rubrics on student performance. The following sentiments were obtained from three staff members.

  • Previously, marks in practical reports ranged from 14 to 18.5. However following rubrics incorporation over the semester, students appeared to have understood and followed the rubrics quite well and scored between 15-17 marks.
  • There was scope for improvement particularly in the discussion of their results. Yet, there were a handful of students who wrote quite brilliantly and the amount of effort they had put in was evident.
  • Key places where students still need to build on are critical thinking and discussion of results (justification of their findings with scientific reasoning).

These sentiments and views will certainly be considered in 2014 when the course is offered next. The RSD rubrics will form a key component of the practical component.