March Contact Week 27.-31.3.2017


A pre-assignment was sent to you to orient yourselves to the assessment theme. This pre-assignment involved walking down your memory lane of your own experiences of having being assessed. You were also invited to look some video clips explaining assessment from various perspectives. Finally, you were invited to share your questions about assessment and vote the most important ones for discussions in our contact days.

The learning outcomes of week were

You will be able to

  • recognize the multiple purposes of assessment
  • continue to process your own pedagogical thinking by aligning assessment to it
  • systematically plan and assess your assessment approaches, criteria and methods based on the intended learning outcomes
  • to recognize students with special needs and apply methods that embrace diversity

We first set the scene by tuning into the theme of assessment by varioius warm-ups. After that some frameworks of assessment from certain perspective were discussed. We then moved to the questions found out from the Assessment dotstorming board and used the method of interview matrix to explore them. We could only take up the four top voted questions, but there a many more questions worth discussing with your peers and other colleagues. Feel free to share the link and keep on discussing (in the comments or face to face).

After enjoying an enormous lunch we had a lively discussion on self, peer and group assessment using the method of hot fish bowl. In our version of the fishbowl method every seat of the inner circle was taken, but anybody from the outer circle could replace a member in the inner circle by tapping him/her on the shoulder. An added extra was the scribe, who documented the session. The themes of the discussion were:

  1. What is the purpose of using self, peer and group assessment in your subject/ training program?​
  2. How are you able to motivate your students to take responsibility of self, peer and group assessment?​
  3. What methods can you use in enhancing self, peer and group assessment?

And this is what Merja captured:

We ended the sessions by reflecting the takeways with three questions of what, so what and now what refering our learning. This was done with the Flinga application (you can request a free Flinga account and use the tool with your own students).


The underlying theme of this day was assessment criteria. We orientated ourselves to assessment by finding a person with a hand with similar temperature, and discussing what else we have in common - when it comes to assessment. This was followed by a brief resource lecture by Merja, where she reminded that learning outcomes and assessment criteria should always be aligned. She also revisited Bloom's and Solo taxonomies. You were invited to bring along your own assessment criteria to be analyzed with a critical friend. The questions to focus on were:

  1. What are the verbs and adverbs used and how are the levels of competences differentiated from each other?
  2. Where and how can the competence described be demonstrated and recognized?
  3. How well does the assessment criteria differentiate different levels of competences?
  4. Is it possible to have a multiple perspective assessment process: students, teachers, and representatives of world of work?

We also started out peer assessment exercise on the status of your teaching practice project. In order to practice what we preach, your were invited to participate in defining the assessment criteria for the teaching practice status update. You were to write questions (=assessment criteria) and a scale, which depicts how well the the level of each criteria is met. This would make up the rubric of the task in, the free online tool for conducting peer assessment which we were to use on Friday. Writing questions and qualitative assessment criteria proved to be very challenging. However, it raised many important questions about how we really draw the assessment criteria.

After lunch it was time for the first collaborative workshop on Encountering students in culturally diverse contexts. It was run by Tsholo and Brendon.

Tsholo and Brendon and the squibbles to be turned into birds

We swiftly moved then to the collaborative workshop on laws and regulations organized by the Elevated Eagles: Beatrice, Patricia and Vukosi.

The apple dance about to start

The day was ended with assessing the learning atmosphere by showing fingers.

High fives were dominant!

The day was commenced by making a puzzle of a market place together. This opened process for sharing and analyzing the assessment methods you had brought. We categorized them with certain learning outcomes derived from Bloom's taxonomy. This exercise was an eyeopener for many: it showed in a concrete way that you really need to choose the methods carefully, if you want to capture a specific level of learning in Bloom's taxonomy!

The marketplace and its offerings

After lunch we were invited to discuss Encountering students in culturally diverse contexts with the collaborative method of think-pair-share. The session was facilitated by Tharelelo and Mike.

Tharelello & Mike

We then had an opportunity to process our ideas of barriers and strategies when dealing with students with need for special support. This workshop was facilitated by Aubrey, Sindi and Tumelo.

Barriers & Strategies + the web of people with their own restrictions

We checked-out this session by thanking our colleagues for their special contribution to the Wednesday session.


We were aiming to start our fifth collaborative workshop on special needs at 8.30 but had to settle to 8.50 as all the participants were not yet present. Martha tuned us in by introducing the coconut dance with music, and by asking us to brainstorm separate words relating to our ideas on special needs. After that Alina introduced the theoretical outline for categorizing special need students. A case study approach was used when we applied our knowledge to solving various student cases. The session ended by presenting the special need supporting practices at TUT.

Irmeli continued with the special needs theme and introduced some approaches every teacher can use to make life easier for students who need scaffolding. An interesting one is TTSReader, a text to speech tool, which lets you listen to text copied to the service, or with a Chorome plugin/extension it is even possible to listen to any web site!

This is how the service looks like, test it from the link above, you will be surprised by the quality of the speech!

If you want to listen to the first 12 minutes of Irmeli's session, the recording is now available in Soundcloud. This is just to demonstrate, how easy it is to record your lessons with a smartphone and share them with your students. Especially students with special needs could benefit from an opportunity to re-listen the session.

After lunch we had a collaborative workshop on quality of learning facilitated by Pfarelo and Vele. A fun ice-breaker of being on a bus stop and catching a particular bus when arguments were presented started the session. A list of factors of quality of learning was introduced and it was then tested through the practices the participants have at TUT. Groups were made by playing cards and practices shared via group discussions and poster presentations. The session ended by filling an evaluation questionnaire.

At the bus stop, ready to jump!

The intensive day ended with an ethics clinic on assessment problems. Every group discussed their problems and tried to find ethical solutions to them.

Finally, statues describing the learnt ideas were made in the check-out phase.

Statue collection

The morning started with another workshop on laws and regulations concerning education facilitated by Zama, Happiness and Nthai. In the middle of the the session you spontaneously started a song. Very emotional moment!

The next hour and a half was reserved to peer assessment. Our ambitious aim was to:

  • engage you in designing the assessment criteria and scale (=a rubric) for a project update
  • have you write a Teaching practice project update, which would be assessed with that rubric
  • make you perform peer assessment with

This proved to be a lot! We hope you don't give up, but will experiment with with your own students. However, do it so that during the first times you define the rubric, and they only hand-in their (short!) paper and grade their peers guided by the very detailed guiding questions you have made. Although we strongly recommend you involve your students in creating assessment criteria, it's best they first learn to technically do the peer assessment and only after that participate in creating the criteria.

In this exercise we learned that your assessment culture is still very much focused on quantitative criteria. That is why it was quite challenging for you to come up with a qualitative scale. When you had not previously used it was also difficult for you to know, how to formulate the questions for the rubric. That is, the questions should not be addressed to the person writing the update (not: "How have you aligned your personal development goals and the teaching practice plan?"), but to the person assessing the update ("How is the alignment between the personal goals and the teaching practice plan presented in the update?" Scale: not presented; the alignment is presented on a descriptive level; the update not only describes the alignment, but argues it pedagogically).

Another thing we noticed (with surprise!) was that even though you knew in advance, what the assessment criteria would be, most of you did not take them into account while writing the update! By reading your updates, we have learned a lot about the current state of your teaching practice project. However, the questions in the rubric remain for the most part unanswered. E.g. some of you mention that you have been able to align your personal development goals and the competence criteria of this program to your teaching practice plan, but you don't mention what your goals were, what the chosen competence criteria were and how you argue that alignment has taken place.

Addressing the quantitative criteria seemed to be easier. Many of you mentioned, how many hours you have observed/implemented. But looking back to Merja's slides, the completed hours would be more a performance criteria, and they don't really say much about competence development. Don't take this critique too hardly (remember, we are your critical friends!). Take it as evidence of the need to do some serious thinking to capture, what qualitative assessment of learning and competence.

We had a time issue, and many of you did not have time to do the peer grading. That is why some of you received no feedback. In cases where someone received several peer assessments the agreement between the graders varied. We take it this is because you were not familiar with the rubric used in If you plan to take to use with your students, make sure that:

  • The rubric questions direct the graders to look for input on the specific assessment criteria
  • The scale differentiates well between the qualitative aspects of the answers

Here is one statistic the teacher can pull out from It shows that the rubric wasn't clear enough, when the graders had so different interpretation on what type of answer would qualify for which grade.

0 answers marked as helpful might imply that a) no open "feedforward" comments were given, or b) the person who received feedback did not realize there is on option to "thank the grader" by marking the comment useful

This was the first time we experimented with the tool with your group. Next time we will open tool during the distance period so that you have more time to answer. Hopefully the usefulness of the tool can come through better that way!

Wrap-up & Next Steps

A multitude of tools was introduced...
To tackle these themes:
The key words, which you remembered after a week of active participation
The next steps
  1. Contact Week reflections, in your peer group's own Google Community. We suggest you use the Motorola method for that: What went well? What went poorly/not so well? What did I/we learn? What will I take into action/ next steps?
  2. Add recognition of prior learning (RPL) cases to Padlet, one per peergroup
  3. Keep on observing each other
  4. Keep on implementing teaching practice
  5. Make a short video recording of your teaching practice?
  6. Update your Teaching Practice learning journal in an ongoing manner, add a comment, when you want me to read the update
  7. Submit the final version of the Teaching Practice learning journal 24.4.
  8. Demonstrate you development to Irmeli in a personal Skype meeting in May, remember to book the time asap!
  9. Carry out a study circle on literature for Introduction to pedagogy 2, see instructions in Networks and communities learning journal
  10. Provide feedback on the first half of the project in May (you will get a link to the survey)

Than you all for active participation during the memorable third contact week!

Merja & Irmeli

PS More photos can be found in Irmeli's TUT2 Album on Google Photos (scroll down to find newest pictures)


Photos by Merja and Irmeli

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