St Helens College developed a Higher Education Strategy in 1990 which has subsequently been subject to three revisions and which clearly correlates with the institution’s overall mission and strategic plan. A developmental feature of the Higher Education Strategy is the recent introduction of an institution wide Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy that reflects the value placed by the College on being learner-centred, on widening participation, on work-based learning and on employability skills.
The very nature of individual module aims and outcomes serve to inform teaching and learning methodology, as will the preferred learning styles of individual students. As such, the Programme Team subscribe to the notion of experiential learning as depicted by Kolb (1986) whereby the cyclical nature of the learning process, effectively managed, enables access to learning by all students whatever their preferred learning style.
The following range of teaching and learning methods will be employed:
· Lecture – This is used to impart a specific body of knowledge to students. In most cases, theoretical concepts generated by lectures will be developed through supporting seminars or through research practice. (including use of multi-media presentations, video presentations and, where appropriate, guest speakers)
· Teaching Workshop – This is where a lecturer or visiting lecturer introduces and demonstrates practically based technology, working methods and skills, potential of materials, within a short period of intensive study. For example Police interview techniques, risk assessment processing, pre-sentence reports, supervision of offenders and deciding on sentence.
· Seminars - This functions as a forum for the discussion and debate of ideas. The primary function is the exchange of opinion between staff and students, or students and students. A seminar may be initiated and led by staff or may be focussed around a student presentation.
· Self-Directed Learning - The concept of independent study is an integral part of the programme. It refers to the idea of student centred learning, whereby the student takes responsibility for setting his or her own goals and creating his or her own pathway of study within the framework of the course. With this in mind, the programme team will act more as facilitators, enabling and encouraging learning by developing study skills, suggesting areas of investigation and research, and providing academic advice and counselling.
· Written Work – The course involves a range of written assignments. These include essays, critical reviews, written discussions, project proposals, applications, letters of introduction, CV’s, reflective logs and a contextual report.
· Oral Presentation – Throughout the programme the student is required to use the spoken word to support their work in both formal and informal situations.
· Group Work – Certain assignments may require students to work together or in pairs, to practice or demonstrate learning or to initiate investigation and / or deliver presentations.
· Visits – Throughout the programme the students are required to attend a series of visits that will be pre-planned. These visits will take the form of court visits, police control rooms and professional organisations.
· Visiting Lectures – Students benefit from contact with a wide range of professional activities through direct contact with industrial specialists. The schedule of VL’s is intended to introduce the students to a variety of different professional practitioners and working methods.
· Individual tutorials – This system is an extremely important element linked to the rationale of teaching, learning and assessment at St Helens College. The individual needs of the student are effectively analysed with the aim to provide a clear pathway of learning to incorporate the style which most suits the student. These tutorials can be activated at the request of the tutor or individual student, and can be utilised in addition to the mandatory tutorials afforded to each and every individual student on the course. This process has also been informed by feedback from past and current students who have identified how advice relating to achieving learning outcomes and utilising appropriate study techniques has been invaluable in supporting them towards achieving independent study and the results associated with this.
The systems therein to support individual learning needs include:
- Booking a 20 minute one to one intensive session re Literacy and/or Number
- Specific dyslexia support
- Facilities for students with visual/aural impairment
- Functional skills workshops (including evening sessions)
- Evening Tutorials to provide flexible support and guidance.
Systems established within the programme area to support individual learning needs include:
- Extra support and guidance for students with dyslexia
- Additional support for any student finding difficulty in coping with assessments.
All methods of assessment will follow current University of Chester Assessment Regulations and Code of Assessment Practice as specified in University of Chester Modular Framework (UMF), including the arrangement of Module and Programme Assessment Boards.
All students are introduced to the methods of assessment and assessment deadlines during the induction programme.
All work to be assessed must be submitted to the administrative staff and this should happen before the deadline indicated upon the assignment brief. It is the responsibility of the individual student to ensure they obtain a signed and dated receipt for this submission. This then acts as their proof should a dispute arise over meeting a deadline.
All student work submitted for assessment will be either double marked or second line assessed and internally verified in line with the College’s policy.
Any academic impropriety will be dealt with in accordance with the University of Chester UMF. All students will have read and signed a policy on Academic Impropriety at Induction and this record will be held in their tutorial records.
The programme is modular in design, with each module having a credit value based upon taught hours and expected hours of independent private study, practical and research work necessary to complete the module.
The basic functions for assessment are as follows:
• Achievement against learning outcomes
• Written & verbal feedback to students on progress
• Measure achievement against specified assessment criteria
• Identify student strengths and areas for improvement
• Ensure national academic standards are met in comparison to other awards
Students work is assessed in order to ensure the programmes standards are met. All modules contain assessed work that is normally in the form of an ‘Assignment Brief’. All assignment briefs will contain both evidence requirements for submission and a series of weighted assessment criteria that tells the student what they are being marked against. The assessment criteria will reflect the learning outcomes of the module and it is with these outcomes in mind that the external examiner can make a judgement on an individual student’s performance.
All assessed students work also needs to meet a national standard consistent with the award being offered. It is for this reason the programme requires an external examiner that remains impartial to the internal assessment process. The External Examiner ensures that all students have been dealt with in a fair and consistent manner and that the academic standards of the award are maintained.
All academic members of the programme team can be considered examiners for the college. No college examiner can be eligible to be considered an External Examiner. All grades allocated to student work during assessment are ‘Interim’ until they have been officially ratified by the External Examiner through the Assessment Boards.
Assessment is a matter of judgement and not simply a matter of computation. The marks, grades and percentages are symbols used by examiners in order to communicate their judgement of different aspects of students work. Students must be made aware of the MAB and PAB discretion and final judgement on individual marks or grades.
Methods of Assessment
Two methods of assessment are employed throughout the three levels of the programme. They are as follows:
Formative Assessment – This is conducted through group and individual critiques, allowing the programme team to offer on-going feedback to students according to standards commensurate with the requirements of the programme. There will be a formal process of formative assessment prior to the end of the 1st semester and students will be provided with both written and verbal feedback in relation to their performance at this stage of their studies.
Summative Assessment – This is conducted through formal assessment records containing individual grades for specific individually weighted assessment criteria and written feedback. This form of assessment happens after work has been submitted to deadline and provides the students with a clear indication of their strengths and weaknesses, detailing how they might improve their performance.
Formative assessments are varied and may include:
- Problem-solving exercises
- Case studies
- Question and answer sessions
- Discussions and debates
- Literature reviews
Summative assessments are varied and include:
- PowerPoint presentations
- Case studies
- Research proposal
- Case files
- Problem-solving exercises