Keynote Abstracts

Assessment at the heart of learning: students’ learning supported through self-assessment

Dr Maddalena Taras, University of Sunderland

This address explores concepts of assessment and learning and how they can be brought to the service of student inclusion according to constructivist and social constructivist learning theories.

Within learner and learning-centred discourses, self-assessment (as an integral part of self-regulated learning) is increasingly considered a basic requirement and goal in the literature. But what is self-assessment and which models best serve our purposes in which contexts?

The standard self-assessment, model far from including and empowering students, exacerbates their isolation from assessment processes and disenfranchises learners in the area which matters to them most.

To contextualise student assessment, conceptualisations of fundamental aspects of assessment and how they link directly to tutor and student practices and theories that surround and/or support them are examined. In educational settings, the aim is to provide congruence and constructive alignment so that our processes are coherent and mutually supporting.


What works? Facilitating an effective transition into and through higher education

Professor Liz Thomas, Liz Thomas Associates

This key note presentation will draw on research evidence from the What works? Student retention and success programme (2008-12), the second phase of the programme which is focusing on implementation and institutional change (2012-16) and current research on study success in Europe and independent learning in higher education.

I will consider why transition is important, in particular focusing on the relationships between transition and engagement, belonging and success in higher education and beyond. I will look at the characteristics of effective interventions and approaches, and illustrate these with examples of effective transition activities including pre-entry, induction and learning and teaching in the first semester/year and engagement in real-world learning to develop professional skills and graduate attributes. Delegates will be encouraged to reflect on the needs and experiences of diverse student groups, and to reflect on their own practice. The session will conclude by identifying the ‘strategic enablers’ that are required within the wider institution to facilitate staff to deliver an effective transition for all students.

Keynote Speaker Biographies


Maddelena Taras photoDr Maddalena Taras, University of Sunderland


‌Maddalena’s extensive research record while HE focused, is pertinent at all levels. There is considerable evidence that it has impact on debate, staff development and academic practice in UK universities and internationally. It covers assessment practices and discourses including linguistic and cultural influences on perceptions of assessment.

Her original self-assessment model is a paradigm shift linking practice and theory supporting student learning and inclusion in assessment. An original theoretical framework for summative, formative and self-assessment represents a second paradigm shift. She has also critiqued extensively Assessment for Learning increasingly promoted in schools and initial teacher training world-wide. Maddalena questions the definitions of formative assessment and the underpinning theoretical assumptions, identifying the contradictions that ensue in practice.
http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/research/areasofresearch/thecentreforpedagogy/staffprofiles/drmaddalenataras/

Liz Thomas photo Professor Liz Thomas, Liz Thomas Associates

Liz Thomas is an independent researcher and consultant for higher education and Professor of Higher Education at Edge Hill University. She is visiting professor of Academic Development at Staffordshire University. Liz has over fifteen years’ experience of undertaking and managing research about widening participation, student retention and success and institutional approaches to improving the student experience and student outcomes. She is committed to using research to inform national and institutional policy and practice, and has developed and led change programmes to facilitate this.   Liz is leading the What works? Student retention and success change programme on behalf of the Higher Education Academy, working with Action on Access and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. She is a member of the research team examining higher education drop-out and completion in Europe looking at comparative conceptualisations of and policy interventions to improve study success in 36 European countries. Liz Thomas Associates is currently working with the National Union of Students to examine student perspectives and experiences of independent learning, building on earlier work on directed independent learning.  Liz is author and editor of ten books on widening participation and enhancing the student experience, including Institutional transformation to engage a diverse student body (2011, Emerald Publications, with Malcolm Tight) and Improving student retention in higher education: The role of teaching and learning (2007, RoutledgeFalmer, with Glenda Crosling and Margaret Heagney).

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