Student-led portfolio assessment - large pre-honours cross-university elective

Student-led portfolio assessment in a large pre-honours cross-university elective

School: Social and Political Science

Team Members: Michael Barany


History of Science 1 is a large pre-honours elective course annually serving hundreds of students, often from more than a hundred different degree programmes spanning the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering. The Principal Applicant was hired in 2018 in part to revitalize this long-running course, and has been developing flexible instruction and assessment models that allow students to make the course meaningful for their own degrees and interests and does not presume a single model of engagement or assessment for which students have vastly differing preparation, needs, and goals.

In the coming semester, we will be piloting a revised assessment strategy emphasizing student-led approaches based on goal-setting, self-evaluation, metacognition, and an exploration-based curriculum. Higher education research shows that students generally respond favourably to such approaches but can find the initial freedom and responsibility daunting.

This PTAS Small Grant will fund research assistant support to collect and mobilize evidence of student experience across the semester through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, and to assemble exemplars of student work to help students develop their own approaches to the course and assessment. We shall pay special attention to accounting for the diverse needs of students from across the disciplines, and to realizing the potential for cross-disciplinary engagement in what has traditionally been a rather atomized course from students’ perspectives. The project is expected to feed into a larger and longer-running review of the Science Technology and Innovation Studies undergraduate curriculum.

Final project report

Download the final project report (PDF)