[Live webinar] AI-Driven Transformation: Personalizing Online and Hybrid Learning for Student Success
chevron_right

Generating Holistic Assessment with Portfolio at Leiden University

Dan Hasan
|
February 13, 2024
Using
DOMAIN
Humanities
Class Size
Various
Instructor Workload
Learner Workload
ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of the leading international research universities in Europe. The University strives to make sure all members endorse four core values: Connecting, Innovative, Responsible, and Free. These are derived from their motto Praesidium Libertatis (bastion of freedom) and Leiden's academic identity and culture.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Pilot coordinators

Anna Benjamins is the Educational Advisor in ICT and Education at the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Nathalie Muffels is the Student Assistant at the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Course coordinators

Astrid van Weyenberg is a University Lecturer at the Centre for Arts in Society, Leiden University

Yasco Horsman  is a University Lecturer at the Centre for Arts in Society, Leiden University

ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of the leading international research universities in Europe. The University strives to make sure all members endorse four core values: Connecting, Innovative, Responsible, and Free. These are derived from their motto Praesidium Libertatis (bastion of freedom) and Leiden's academic identity and culture.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Pilot coordinators

Anna Benjamins is the Educational Advisor in ICT and Education at the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Nathalie Muffels is the Student Assistant at the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Course coordinators

Astrid van Weyenberg is a University Lecturer at the Centre for Arts in Society, Leiden University

Yasco Horsman  is a University Lecturer at the Centre for Arts in Society, Leiden University

Context

Leiden University is adopting a competency-based approach (CBE) in its curriculum by formulating a set of 13 skills (competencies) that students need to develop throughout the learning trajectory: Researching (including the skills analyzing, generating solutions, project-based working, digital skills), Collaborating (includes the skills Oral Communication, Written Communication, Presenting, and Societal Awareness.) and Reflecting (includes the skills Independent Learning and Resilience.), The goal is that the curriculum will be designed and curated around these competencies. This has prompted faculties at Leiden, including the Faculty of Humanities, to adopt innovative approaches and create authentic, growth-oriented learning experiences for the students.

To help students develop self-reflection and measure their skills development, Nathalie and Anna are coordinating a pilot project together with several instructors at the Faculty of Humanities. The plan is to create a Portfolio with the help of FeedbackFruits solution. The portfolio allows students to synthesize all of their assignments throughout the science communication trajectory which is part of different courses in Film and Literary Studies (BA).

One of the goals is that they can share the portfolio as a showcase with future employers at the end of their Bachelor's.

We have opportunities to chat with Anna Benjamins, Educational Advisor in ICT and Education, and Nathalie Muffels, Student Assistant at the Faculty of Humanities, two of the coordinators in charge of running this portfolio pilot together with the lecturers on the vision and implementation plan for the portfolio in the upcoming semester.

Constructive alignment

The problem: Seeking a way to encourage self-reflection and learning ownership

The teaching team of the BA Film and Literary Studies aimed to shift the program focus, from targeting traditional academic skills such as essay writing to nurturing real-life skill sets which are key to students’ future careers and lives after graduation. To promote these transferable skills, a science communication trajectory has been integrated into the program in which students practice with different skills in every stage of their BA. Students were presented with multiple means of knowledge expression, namely video essay production, blog writing, podcasting, and giving a TED talk-like presentation, which encouraged them to practice and develop different skills like critical thinking, feedback, collaboration, knowledge transfer, and more.

This curriculum change has allowed students to engage in diverse learning experiences and develop relevant skills. However, it remains a challenge to gather a big picture of students’ progress toward the desired competencies and to help students pinpoint which skills they achieved by the end of the course. Nathalie remarked:

“Even though they [students] gained a lot of new skills, they had a tough time formulating and presenting themselves following what they learned.”

That's why the teaching team implemented the portfolio approach to help students take ownership and gain more insights into their personal growth.

“The vision of the teaching team for the portfolio was that the students develop an ownership over their learning journey and more insights in their personal development and personal skills.” – Nathalie Muffels, Student assistant

Ideally, the portfolio will be a collection of all students’ work and their received feedback which they can reflect on and create a showcase of to later share with future employers. To design, facilitate, and monitor a portfolio that achieves this goal, especially in a large student cohort would require appropriate technological support.

The FeedbackFruits Learning Journeys was chosen as the perfect tool for the design and facilitation of the portfolio for several reasons:

  • The instructors don’t have to master a new tool since they are already familiar with using FeedbackFruits
  • FeedbackFruits is seamlessly integrated within Brightspace, allowing students to work conveniently within the same platform
“The feedback that we get from teachers about FeedbackFruits is that it’s easy to use. This is important for teachers since they don't want to have to put in a lot of effort in learning how a system works and struggling through all the settings, losing valuable time.” – Nathalie

Figure 1. Instructors can create a connected learning process by adding different FeedbackFruits tools in the Learning Journeys

So how do the instructors plan to implement the portfolio with FeedbackFruits Learning Journeys? Everything is explained in the next section.

The solution: Setting up the portfolio

Define objectives and expectations

Learning objectives are the Northstar of any course design, guiding the instructors to decide which activities and assessments to include.

Upon establishing the portfolio goals, the teaching team conducted in-depth conversations with students on what their expectations were: what they wanted to achieve by the end of their bachelor's program. Based on the responses, three key objectives were established for the portfolio project. That is, by the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the academic concepts and communicate them effectively to a wider audience
  • Develop awareness of what skills they have developed and which one still needs to be improved
  • Critically reflect on their performance and take ownership of their learning

The ability to self-reflect is the highlight of the portfolio, according to Anna and Nathalie.

“When students engage in self-reflection, they find out what they enjoy doing along with their strengths and weaknesses. Such awareness motivates them to shape their learning trajectories.” – Nathalie

For instructors, the portfolio generates a holistic picture of students’ learning progress that enables answers to many questions, namely: Which skills have learners accomplished? Where do they stand as compared to the learning goals? What activities do they enjoy doing? and more. With these inputs, instructors can provide timely support and make improvements to the syllabus.

“We love to learn more about what students find important to learn, and what they get excited about, which is sometimes difficult to gain insight into. It is always important to get to know students at different levels so that we can adjust the programs to accommodate all learning needs.”  – Nathalie

Design and implement the portfolio

The portfolio is implemented in 4 different courses of the Film and Literary Studies program during the first and second study years. For each course, students need to complete an assignment that requires translating and communicating theoretical concepts in an accessible and understandable manner. Below you can find an overview of the courses and the activity:

Figure 2. The portfolio is implemented in 4 different courses of the Film and Literary Studies program during the first and second study years.

The purpose of these assignments is to encourage the application of learned knowledge, nurture communication skills, and enhance critical reflection. That’s why each activity involves several steps, starting with first draft writing, peer and instructor review, then final revision, and self-reflection.

Using the Learning Journeys feature, instructors can easily create these multi-step activities by adding different FeedbackFruits to support peer/group assessment, social annotation, discussion, group projects, research writing, and more. Most importantly, the entire set-up process happens within the same platform, saving instructors plenty of time.

Nathalie and Anna shared an example of the Blog post writing assignment created with the help of FeedbackFruits Learning Journeys, which consists of the following steps:

Figure 3. A blog post writing assignment example

Step 1: Setting personal goals

Students write a short text to reflect on which skills they want to develop upon completing the blog assignment. The goals should be aligned with the competencies rubric of the Film and Literary Studies program. This step is supported by the Self-Assessment tool.

Step 2: First draft and peer feedback

Students write and submit the first draft of the blog. They then provide feedback on their peers’ work based on a set of criteria. The entire process takes place within the Peer Review tool.

Step 3: Instructor feedback and Interim reflection blog

A workshop is then organized where instructors and experts give feedback on students’ drafts. Based on the received feedback, students write a short paragraph reflecting on which comments they find useful and how they will incorporate them into the revised version. Assignment Review tool is used for this step.

Step 4: Revision and final version

The students hand in their final version of the blog. This is reviewed by the expert who was also present in the workshop (this person is given a teacher role in Brightspace). The Assignment Review tool is again used in this phase.

Step 5: Final reflection blog assignment

Students reflect on the writing and feedback process, what they have learned, and which competencies they have developed. This step is supported by the Self-Assessment tool.

Check this link for a detailed breakdown of this Blog assignment.

Figure 4. Blog assignment created using FeedbackFruits Learning Journeys feature 

Once the entire assignment or learning journey has been designed, it is shared with students so that they have an overview of everything that needs to be done and how these steps lead them to achieve the learning goals. “Transparency and clarity” are critical in the learning process, as emphasized by Anna and Nathalie, and the connected experience presented within FeedbackFruits supports this.

“We don't want the students to get surprised by parts of the assignments that they didn't realize they also had to do.” – Anna

Reflect and showcase mastery of competencies

At the end of the program, students are invited to attend a workshop on career development where they look at their completed portfolios and reflect on what skills they have learned, what best represents themselves, and their future expectations. One of the goals is that they can also share the portfolios with recruiters and employers as a demonstration of their skills and a showcase of their accomplishments.

Nathalie and Anna expressed great excitement about the portfolio implementation and all the benefits that come with it. “What we hoped is that students will find the portfolio useful in helping them make the next step to the career market”, Anna said.

Figure 5. Developmental portfolio in FeedbackFruits which showcases students’ progress toward the desired competencies

Figure 6. Students can see an overview of all the instructors, peers and self-feedback in the developmental portfolio 

“We also hope the portfolio can assist students in becoming more intentional about their learning”, added Nathalie. That is, by having a big picture of their work and progress, students can critically reflect on their process and performance to shape their learning journey throughout their Bachelor's.

“By becoming aware of what they struggle with, what they like to do, or what they are good at, students can change their learning journey more than they might realize.” – Anna  

The outcomes: Students take charge of their learning

Reflecting on the use of FeedbackFruits Learning Journeys and Development Portfolio, the instructors highlighted several benefits: 

  • The ability to add comments next to the work while grading with FeedbackFruits helps students understand better why they are given certain grades. 
  • Students were able to have a good overview of their learning process via the portfolio, which is seamlessly integrated into Brightspace. The reflection activities motivated them to critically reflect on their own skills that were linked to the assignments of the course.
  • There were not many questions regarding the learning journey or portfolio from students, which implies that the activities were easy to navigate and grasp for learners. 
  • Part of the entire learning journey can be transformed into templates to be used for the next year, saving instructors lots of time from recreating an entirely new course. 

Aside from the positive results, Nathalie and Anna also remarked upon improvements for the upcoming course, such as using the deadline extension function to give students more flexibility with submission, enabling the ability to give half points (e.g. 7.5 instead of 7 or 8), making the feedback process simpler and clearer, and more. 

More food for thought

Some notes on self-reflection

Nathalie and Anna shared some best practices to facilitate the self-reflection component at the beginning and end of the course.

  1. Ask the right questions. For the reflection at the beginning of the course, you can ask questions like: What are the specific skills you want to achieve with this assignment? What levels do you think you are regarding this skill? How do you want to improve this skill with the assignment?
  2. Ask students to formulate a personal goal they will focus on throughout the course. At the end of the course, let them reflect on the goals they set for themselves: what went well and what they struggled with. Reflection exercises are not strictly about accomplishing a goal, more than making students aware of their learning process.
  3. Keep the reflection form short. The questions should be at most 4 or 5, depending on the length of the answers you want students to give, according to Nathalie and Anna. Students feel more motivated to complete the reflection when it doesn’t take too long.

To see the Competency-Based Assessment solution Nathalie and Anna used here, click here.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Notable outcomes

Possible variation

Share on social media

Recommended use cases

Leiden University utilizes FeedbackFruits Competency-Based Assessment solution to track competencies of students

Imperial College London utilizes FeedbackFruits to elevate self and peer assessment process for the students

Texas A&M University School of Public Health decided on a campus-wide adoption of the FeedbackFruits tool suite to enhance student engagement and implement authentic assessment.

Subscribe for educational articles, practical pedagogical tips & tricks, event updates, invites and more. Unsubscribe anytime.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Filling out this form means you agree to our Privacy Policy.