8th September 2017
The year got off to a good start when we received one of the first Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence (CATE) for our Integrated Programme Assessment (IPA) approach. The glittering celebration event on 25th January to announce the awards was perfectly timed - the TEF submission was due the following morning! And so we were able to change ‘nominated for’ to ‘awarded’….. as the slogan goes “…every little helps”!
Since then we have talked to a lot of people who want to find out more about what we are doing, and it seems that the sector is now ready to tackle some of the unintended consequences of modularisation: over-assessment, restrictive assessment practices and a compartmentalised approach to learning by students. From our experience, IPA can help reduce all of those issues. We had a very good session at the HEA Annual Conference in Manchester in July, and from the discussion we were prompted to think about whether IPA would work in all circumstances – can programmes be too big? We also received useful feedback that will help shape the workshop we will be running in November.
From all our conversations, ‘reluctant staff’ is a consistent refrain and cited as a barrier. But they appear whenever change is mooted, and can help us to refine our thinking and produce better proposals/processes/ways of doing things – so having one or more devil’s advocates amongst the staff group can be useful! Persevering has tremendous benefits in terms of creating a programme experience for students; as staff have to collectively integrate their practice, the programme is no longer just a collection of modules. In Biosciences, this has resulted in a strengthened staff team: one where new staff are easily integrated into the division and one that can withstand better the ups and downs of academic life such as having to provide cover for colleagues.
So as I bask in the glow of yet another award (the Biosciences team received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for services to the University at graduation in July) and look forward to the new academic year that will be upon us shortly, I am excited about spreading the word of IPA even further and supporting institutions and individuals who want work towards implementing it in their own contexts!