The following post is from Bex Pike who started her BILT Associate role on the theme of Assessment and Feedback.
A friend that I persuaded to speak about her career progression during an undergraduate careers week in my School, commented on the day how she ‘didn’t realise I had the most amazing and rewarding job’ and I agree. I find teaching incredibly rewarding and I want to give our students the best educational experience possible to set them up for a successful and happy life. Assessment has a powerful influence on our student’s education; influencing what they pay attention to, how much effort they put in and their quality of engagement, whilst feedback is one of the most powerful drivers of student learning. I think my natural interest in Assessment & Feedback stems from the feeling that your interventions can have a huge impact on student learning. As a BILT Associate, I’m looking forward to improving my own knowledge of Assessment and Feedback as well as improving the practice within my School. But mostly I’m looking forward to being able to work with and support colleagues with their ideas to improve practice and the experience of our students in these important areas.
I’ve been with the University of Bristol for a quite a while now, starting with my first degree in Mathematics in 2008. After my degree, I left for London to complete the two-year TeachFirst program and qualified as a secondary school Mathematics teacher. I missed academia (as well as good coffee and green spaces…) so I returned to Bristol to complete a PhD in Theoretical Biology. During my PhD I applied mathematical models to biological problems, focusing on the reproductive decisions animals and humans make. I was fortunate enough to join the PW3 team after my PhD finished in 2017 and have enjoyed teaching in the School of Biological Sciences ever since. I am interested in Assessment and Feedback and my role now includes being one of the Exams Officers, the lead of Assessment and Feedback, a member of the teaching committee and the Deputy Coordinator of Year 1.
These roles mean I have had the opportunity to suggest and implement teaching innovations, particularly related to Assessment & Feedback. This year I have overseen the change to open book assessments within our School as well as leading a project to evaluate the experience of open book vs closed book assessment for our staff and students. I’m also interested in constructive alignment and writing questions which promote deep learning and was part of a project evaluating the skills we teach and subsequently test in our assessments. I’m also interested in supporting assessment literacy for our staff and students, and am creating new marking guidelines for our School, which includes a glossary of criteria and explicitly lists critical thinking skills that are being assessed.
One of my current projects, which we were fortunate to receive BILT funding for, is the creation of a portfolio for students to collect and reflect on their feedback and improve their feedback literacy. This summer I have been part of a team including student partners to develop this portfolio further and to evaluate the range of feedback we currently give within the School. I have also been supporting my line manager to run online workshops for participants in the Erasmus EAT Assessment project, which is supporting colleagues across different schools at the University of Bristol and our EU partners to reflect upon and enhance their assessment practices.
I’d be happy to chat with anyone about the projects I’m currently working on, or their own ideas and interventions they are planning.