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Personal Developmental Planning at Oxford Brookes – Still Developing?

The historical background to Personal Development Planning (PDP) in the context of Progress Files is briefly outlined, together with an acknowledgement of the way in which the recommendations of the Burgess Review may take it forward in relation to new ways of measuring and recording student achievement. There is consideration of a range of difficulties and questions associated with the introduction of PDP into HEIs. Implementing PDP at Oxford Brookes University and what it can achieve is examined against the background of some of these difficulties and questions. The conclusion is that the limited focus and ambitions of the first stage of the implementation of PDP at Oxford Brookes can provide a sufficient platform for worthwhile work to be done with undergraduates focussing on preparation for and transition to employment whilst further research is undertaken in the sector into some of the more problematical aspects of PDP.

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Handling student plagiarism: moving to mainstream

Oxford Brookes was the first institution in the UK to develop and implement a system of specialist officers to deal with students who did not comply with University regulations concerning academic conduct. The role of Academic Conduct Officers or ACOs was developed by a working group that revised University policies and procedures to deal with the rising number of incidences of student plagiarism and the concern that other misconduct was also not being dealt with fairly and consistently across the University. This paper discusses how the ACO-system has functioned over five years, in particular in the way punishments are selected and recorded. It identifies what has already been learned from using the ACO system and new issues that have emerged and identifies ways the University has developed a holistic approach to encouraging students’; academic integrity

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Realising teaching and research links in course redesign for delivery in semesters: mission statement rhetoric, mission impossible, or mission accomplished?

Richard Huggins and Alan Jenkins, with Howard Colley, Margaret Price and David Scurry The context ‘In view of the central nature of research and teaching in HE, and the almost universal assumption that R benefits T, and the importance of

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Learning Outcomes and Assessment: developing assessment criteria for Masters-level dissertations

This paper discusses the development of appropriate and effective criteria for the assessment of Masters dissertations. It identifies the features of dissertations which present difficulties in the assessment process and considers the problems faced by assessors, relating these difficulties to the literature. It presents a literature-based approach to developing assessment criteria, related to the learning outcomes of the dissertation modules. The new approach used a grid, and distinguished between first- and second- order criteria. Although the new approach has yet to be thoroughly evaluated, first indications were that it captured the learning outcomes more fully and that it led to greater consistency and agreement between assessors.

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Analysing Quality Audits in Higher Education

In many countries and many cultures, the issue of quality management is firmly on the agenda for higher education institutions. Whether a result of a growing climate of increasing accountability or an expansion in the size and diversity of student populations (Oldfield and Baron, 1998), both quality assurance and quality enhancement are now considered essential components of any quality management programme (Brookes and Downie, 2002). Despite the abundance of research on the subject, there is no universal consensus on how best to measure quality in higher education. In the UK, quality assessment procedures are both internally and externally driven using different mechanisms and quality criteria. As such the assessed ‘quality’ of any given programme of study may therefore be variable across different audits. In addition, the potential value of the different assessments for quality enhancement purposes may also vary. Given the importance of quality assurance on the higher education agenda, this paper undertakes a critical evaluation of the different methods used to assess the quality of provision in the UK through a case study of one department. A comparison of internally versus externally driven quality audits is undertaken at three different levels; module, programme, and subject level. By examining the methods and criteria used to assess the quality of provision and the way in which the quality assessment findings are disseminated, the paper considers the potential value of these different audits in enhancing the quality of higher education provision and identifies action which could be taken by institutions and departments as a result. The authors adopt a secondary approach, drawing on relevant quality management literature, the quality audits conducted within one department as well as those by the Subject Centre for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport, and Tourism of the Higher Education Academy, and the most recent Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) audits within the relevant area, i.e in Unit 25 of their classification of subjects. The findings suggest that while externally driven quality audits enable comparative benchmarking between individual programmes, they may not be the most appropriate for enhancing the quality of higher education provision. The potential for quality enhancement is determined by the manner in which the evaluation is conducted and subsequent change implemented.

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One Lecturer’s Experience of Blending E-learning with Traditional Teaching

The paper examines the author’s experience of developing e-learning materials to support a traditionally delivered first-year undergraduate module, setting this in the context of institutional and national moves towards the greater utilisation of e-learning in enhancing student learning. The paper focuses on the impact of the e-learning materials on student performance over a three-year period and assesses the possible reasons behind the dramatic improvement in marks achieved by those students who engaged with the e-learning materials.

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Various Ways of Using Online Testing in a ‘Virtual Learning Environment’

This paper describes how the ‘quiz’ facility in WebCT, one of the leading names in ‘virtual learning environments’, is used, inter alia, to provide a series of short ‘required tests’. These can be taken up to three times and together contribute a small percentage of marks towards module assessment. Tests motivate students, in a non-threatening way, to use notes and other resources (possibly provided via WebCT), and the system can provide immediate feedback. The paper describes the various forms of quiz question available in WebCT, including multiple choice. The other forms such as matching and multi-response questions are much less time-consuming to prepare. The final section relates the use of quizzes to aspects of good practice described by Graham Gibbs (2002) in a lecture on ‘Thinking Radically about Assessment – Reducing Marking and Improving Learning’.

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A View from the Bridge: Tensions between Practical and Theoretical Perspectives in Vocational Programme Development

This paper aims to analyse and explore the tensions arising from ‘academic’ and ‘practitioner’ perspectives within a business undergraduate course team during a curriculum redesign process. The differing perspectives are examined and some shared perceptions uncovered, particularly concerning the value of research in teaching to produce graduates prepared for both the world of business and for future research. The paper concludes that the identified tensions can be used constructively to develop creative ideas for curriculum development, harnessing the input from both academic and practitioner to develop well-balanced business graduates.

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Pedagogic Insights and Life History in Cyber-space

This article explores the opportunities available for using Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool for information gathering and research. A newly emerging research methodology known as cyber-ethnography is discussed. The aim is to explore how on-line research might support better understandings of the role that social communication plays in the learning process. The article also identifies a potential for on-line communication as a research resource for the life history tradition. Drawing on research into one teaching programme using technology to reach students across the globe two key questions are asked. The first relates to the potential for creating communities of discourse when participating in on-line interaction. The second considers the nature of the information revealed in providing insight to the learning experiences of those engaging in on-line programmes of study. Practical issues associated with the ethics of disclosure and ownership of cyber information are considered. Finally the value of this information for the oral historian is assessed as is the potential of ethnography as a research tool for life history.

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