[5] Several birds, one stone: Multi-benefit assessment design



Richard Thomas

College of Arts and Humanities


Swansea University research continues to pioneer wider understandings of the growing trend of cheating within HE. The latest data from Prof. Phil Newton shows that one in seven recent graduates admit to paying others to complete their assignments; he suggests that the true figure might be even higher given that those who cheat might naturally avoid answering surveys associated with such issues. As the Acting Lead for Academic Integrity for COAH, I confront such issues on a weekly basis. Accordingly, this semester I have trialed a distinctive type of analytical assessment that goes some way to mitigate such concerns. This assessment requires the original analysis/evaluation/ comparison of primary news texts and the development of an original argument based on basic quantitative and qualitative analysis. The benefits generated by this type of 3rd year, TB1 assessment are numerous. Firstly, of course, such a specific assignment requiring some primary data collection is not easily produced by a so-called “essay mill”, neither is it easy to plagiarise any of the discussions about specific empirical findings. Secondly, the analysis, evaluation, and creation elements are consistent with expected learning outcomes at Level 6. Thirdly, the ability to be able to apply theory to self-generated findings enhances student perceptions about the importance and relevance of theoretical approaches. Next, the particulars of the news analysis assignment actually enables students to make their own evaluations about the efficacy of the UK news media, as well as affording them the opportunity to talk about “their own research”. These acquired skills also develop confidence regarding the attempting of the dissertation in TB2. Finally, because the written output is required in report style rather than dissertation style, students are able to familiarise themselves with a dissemination format often required by employers. In sum, the presentation outlines the background to the assessment design, the details of the brief, how students reacted to it, what they said about it afterwards and the transferrable benefits that might be available for colleagues in other departments.

Session Outline

The presentation aims to show how concerns about potential academic misconduct can be mitigated by a particular assessment design that brings numerous other pertinent benefits. The session seeks to firstly identify and contextualize the growing problem of assessment plagiarism and commissioning. Using some case studies, the session then shows how new types of assessment might help to reduce opportunities for academic misconduct. Finally, the session outlines the enhanced positive outcomes from both student and staff perspectives.

Key Messages

Delegates will be able to contextualise the misconduct issue, and then the assessment design ideas within their own academic realms. They will then be able to develop some ideas about how “primary analysis” assessments can work within their own modules.

Key Words

Assessment, misconduct, critical-thinking

FOR STAFF USE ONLY : Laptop, data projector, Access to Powerpoint

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