An overview

DePTA final report to JISC August 2011

High stakes assessment in undergraduate programmes often consists of summative examinations and essays, however these traditional forms of assessment do not always expose and capture the broader student understanding, subject skills and transferable graduate capabilities valued by
employers. In addition traditional methods of assessment do not easily facilitate opportunities for formative feedback, peer interaction and self-assessment leading to meta-cognition. Evidence from professional programmes using patchwork text assessment shows this method to be an effective approach for demonstrating these attributes and affording the opportunity for feedback.

In essence, a patchwork text consists of

“a variety of small sections, each of which is complete in itself, and the overall unity of these component sections, although planned in advance is finalized retrospectively, when they are ‘stitched together’….Each of the short pieces of writing is shared within a small group of learners as part of the teaching-learning process. At the end of the module learners add a reflexive commentary to the short pieces they have already written, which they may also, if they wish, revise and edit “(Winter, 2003).

For a more detailed definition and overview read Patchwork Text: Concepts by Janet Strivens

The overarching aims of this digitally-enhanced patchwork text assessment (DePTA) project were to:

  • demonstrate how technology can enhance an already-proven assessment method;
  • extend the relevance and utility of a patchwork text assessment to more traditional subject disciplines in different Higher Education Institutions.

The disciplines included Archaeology (University of Liverpool), Law (University of Derby), Photography (University of Cumbria), Physics (University of Liverpool), Social Psychology (Universities of Bedfordshire & Wolverhampton).
The project implemented and evaluated the DePTA process in relation to:

  • practicability in terms of institutional technological resources
  • capacity to enhance and evidence student learning at a high-stakes level
  • sustainability in relation to staff workload

A diverse range of technologies were selected by the project partners, mostly chosen for pragmatic reasons such as familiarity and availability within the institution. The individual project partners contributed to the case studies and details of how technology was used in given in the case studies.

A notable finding common to all project partners in the successful implementation of a DePTA was the need to recognise and reconcile tensions inherent in the context provided by the combination of subject discipline, learning technologies and institutional protocols. See fig. 1 for an illustration of this.

Fig 1

DePTA Context

Diagram of DePTA context

Winter, R. (2003) Contextualizing the Patchwork Text: Addressing problems of coursework assessment in higher education. Innovations in Teaching and Education International, 40,(2), 112-122.


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