Assessing Authentically, Student Voice, Teaching Stories

Assessing Authentically: Queering Sexuality and Gender

This is a third-year optional unit led by Rosie Nelson in SPAIS. This unit offers an introduction into relevant issues and theory to explore contemporary sociological conversations around minoritized sexualities and genders – specifically, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ+) identities. They explore theoretical approaches to understanding sexuality and gender, before turning to explore topic-based issues of relevance to minoritized sexualities and genders. This module aims to help students understand the normative social structures that impact free expression of gender and sexuality for cis and heterosexual individuals.

Image of a person holding an LGBTQIA+ flag

The Teaching

The teaching on this unit is fairly standard for a Sociology unit, synchronous lectures and seminars supported by asynchronous activities, readings and videos. The course also uses discussion boards to good effect. Students report that the traditional teaching methods work well for this unit, and it is worth noting that not all aspects of a unit need to be authentic for the benefits to be recognised by students.

The Assessment

30% Summative creative project: students are asked to choose one option out of three different creative formats; podcast (15-20 minutes), zine (10 pages), video essay (5-7 minutes). 

70% Summative essay: Students can choose from 5 questions related to the course material (2500 words). 

While this unit has a majority assessment in a traditional format, the choice provided to students for the summative creative project has been very well received. 

The Student Voice

The student feedback on the unusual assessment method was overwhelmingly positive. One student spoke about how they can speak about their podcast in a job interview as a way to express their communication skills.

“You would expect a podcast to be listened to by anyone not just academics, so it meant you had to make your knowledge accessible which is really useful”.

However, students also recognised that it was a new assessment type that they had only just been introduced to in their third year. They would have preferred to have tried podcasting, zine making or video essays before it was part of their graded assessments, either in a non-credit bearing first year unit or as a formative assessment.

“None of us had every done anything quite like the assessment we were given…it felt quite weird to do”

Further improvements could be made regarding practical support. There was no teaching on editing or design skills and so this was a very time-intensive project when compared to written assessments of the same credit value. 

“Re-recording was a very tedious and painstaking process”

Despite these teething problems, students seemed relieved to have a novel assessment method with the majority feeling like this would be more authentic to their future career than another academic report or essay. 


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