Article

Assessing the unassessable: making learning visible in undergraduates' experiences of scientific research

Citation

Wilson A, Howitt S & Higgins D (2016) Assessing the unassessable: making learning visible in undergraduates' experiences of scientific research. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 41 (6), pp. 901-916. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1050582

Abstract
We suggest that academics involved in the provision of research experiences to undergraduate science students may benefit by reconceptualising these experiences as work-based learning. In particular, drawing on the widespread use of reflective practice in work-based learning allows for a more effective focus on process-related learning. We describe an empirical study involving the implementation of reflective blogs in which science students responded to prompt questions designed to focus their attention on how their project was progressing, the process of research and their own learning. The blogs reveal examples of students engaging in independent thinking, creative thinking and developing a sense of themselves as scientists, all qualities valued by supervisors. They also show how these combine as ‘wicked competences’ that allow students to address the complex problems and uncertainties of research. We identify characteristic patterns of reflection that indicate the exercise of such competences and suggest that these could be used as explicit evidence by academics making judgements for assessment purposes.

Keywords
undergraduate research; reflective journal; wicked competences; work-based learning

Journal
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education: Volume 41, Issue 6

StatusPublished
Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online11/06/2015
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN0260-2938