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Two interventions to support students with assignments

Guest post from Dr Pam Pourzanjani

The Beating the Attainment Gap project has been running at Solent University since the 2017-18 academic year and is part of an Office for Students-funded project in collaboration with University of West London and University of Derby.

An attainment gap refers to differences between various groups of students who achieve a good honours degree i.e. first or upper-second class degree. The project has concentrated on the gap between white and black, minority and ethic students.

Two inclusive teaching and learning interventions were introduced to help increase student awareness of assessment requirements. 

The Understanding the Assignment intervention involves students working in small groups to discuss the assignment brief and to develop a list of questions they may have. The idea being that they are more likely to ask each other questions than to ask a tutor directly.

The Assignment Checklist or Fit-to-Submit Checklist is a list of common errors for a particular assignment. The students can check their assignment against this list to ensure they have not made these errors before submitting their assignment for grading.

At Solent a checklist tool is pre-installed on all unit assessment tabs on SOL across the university. The academic just needs to add the items specific to their assessment. Once the students use this online tool, the academic can then monitor student progress and completion of these.

Evaluation of the project has shown that these simple interventions have been beneficial in raising the number of student questions around assessment briefs to clarify understanding and in reducing common errors in submitted assignments.

The BTAG team are keen to embed these interventions more widely across the university. Therefore, training and further information is available from the project SOL page at learn.solent.ac.uk/BTAG or by emailing the Achievement team at student.achievement@solent.ac.uk