Aligning Assessment with Graduate Attributes and Professional Skills: our Experience in First Year Radiography

Matthews, K. and Butler, M.L. (2013) Aligning Assessment with Graduate Attributes and Professional Skills: our Experience in First Year Radiography. In: 6th scientific meeting of the Irish Network of Medical Educators (INMED), 21st February to Friday 22nd February 2013, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Background The transition to university education challenges each student to work independently and in groups, and to develop a critical, evidence-based approach to study1 . Our institution has subscribed to a commercial, on-line, learning system 2 to facilitate first years in rising to these challenges. We integrated this on-line material in a module where Radiography students are introduced to working in a professional health care environment. Our aims were to guide students in assimilating effective approaches to study and to prepare them for the clinical environment. The challenge we then faced was how to align the assessment with the combination of graduate attributes and professional awareness that we were aiming to develop. METHOD We wanted the main assessment to bring together the various module components. We were partly guided by design principles prevailing in our institution that encourage peer review, supported collaborative learning and matched sequencing of learning material and student activities (O’Neill et al, 2011). A stronger influence was the desire to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and attributes they were learning. Since literature concerning graduate skills and radiographic practice places great emphasis on teamwork, a group assignment was highly desirable. An assignment utilising facilities within our VLE was also attractive, because an essential transferable skill for graduate Radiographers is the ability to study and work electronically. Finally, we wanted to expand the students’ professional awareness by provoking them to think about their chosen degree subject in a wide context. These considerations steered us towards a group essay addressing a given aspect of Radiography (thereby encompassing collaboration on professional knowledge) that was developed in a directed series of stages (thereby matched to the online learning material) within a Wiki resource in our Blackboard VLE (thereby encouraging online working and peer review). RESULTS & DISCUSSION Ten First Year student groups used Wiki pages in Blackboard to plan, develop and present an essay on an aspect of Radiography. Staff input was limited to providing a title concept and one initial paper addressing an aspect of Radiography (different for each group), then to facilitate the first group discussion of the given concept. The development process and resultant essays consistently showed evidence of academic enquiry, critical thinking and emerging professional awareness. At the module close, each group reflected on the exercise, and without exception commented on the value of the learning experience. Whilst the development of transferable study skills is widely supported in literature, it has been our own career experience that students are frequently anticipated to develop these skills without explicit teaching input. The outcome can be that students reach a mixed level of expertise that ill prepares them for the CPD requirements of a health care career. Experience with this module has shown that explicit activities that are mapped to desirable attributes can accelerate the development of graduate skills and professional awareness very early in a degree programme

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