Reviewing the resources to complete this activity, I was struck by the Kearney (2013) article, Improving engagement: the use of ‘Authentic self- and peer-assessment for learning to enhance the student learning experience, that states “The idea of authentic, sustainable assessment is one that not only can meet the needs and skills required for success in the twenty-first century, but also has the ability to engage interest and enhance student learning (Boud 2000; Vu and Dall’Alba 2008).”
This statement set me thinking.
The digital resource I am developing is an interactive digital ‘University’ for front-line advisors in a fast-growing wealth-management company. These are busy sales professionals who have a packed day and the responsibility of bringing in an agreed book of business within the time frame of a contract. My undertaking is huge and is a phased multi-year project.
A key thought on my mind has been about assessments. How do I assess advisors in a way that piques their interest, is non-threatening, and helps them build curiosity and critical thinking? From here, my thoughts went back to how I have assessed frontline employees in the past. Multiple choice tests that could be taken many times over, helping iterate key messages have been my favorite approach. While employees have appreciated this method, it has not created a thirst for learning, or enhanced critical thinking in any way. Looking back, I question if these assessments prepared employees for the twenty-first century or more specifically, our post-pandemic workplace.
Throughout my MALAT journey, being exposed to rubrics and grading using rubrics and a blend of peer assessments and instructor assessments deepened my curiosity about authentic and relevant assessments. As a deeply reflective person with a questioning mind, I seek real-world relevance in everything I do. To this day, I have been unable to bring real-world relevance to assessments in the workplace. I tried looking at error reports, comparing pre and post-learning reports, hands-on exercises in sandbox environments, and observational coaching. These methods were more impactful, yet something was missing.
Then Assignment 2 in LRNT 527 happened. I found the rubric created by Team B positive and appealing, making me think of flipping my approach to assessments. So far, I have focused on showing employees what they did wrong, and how they can correct it. Going forward, I decided to help employees see what they did right, and how they can get it right more often and apply the same concepts with more complex challenges. This was a critical paradigm shift I experienced in this course.
I was also intrigued by the feedback I received from Dr. Jenni Hayman. The feedback I received was a paragraph of deep questions that hit the core of what I was searching for. A simple method that I can apply at work. Rather than giving answers, ask questions. Rather than providing solutions, help employees discover their solutions and savor the sense of achievement. This process appealed deeply to the seeker in me. I have created a list of questions I can use to assess my work products similarly.
I did face challenges too in LRNT 527. My home and work situation that started going awry towards the end of LRNT 526 evolved into something more complex and challenging, impacting the time and motivation for my learning. The organization of the discussion forums are confusing for me, and I struggled to navigate the discussions based on the units and activities. My simple solution was to focus more on the reading and the assignments, leading to a huge backlog that I am not happy about. However, this has helped me think deeply about how I would organize discussion forums in my digital university. Employees will not navigate complex discussions that don’t allow for searches or categorization.
This takes me back to what Kouprie, M., & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) quote “Empathy supports the design process as design considerations move ‘from rational and practical issues to personal experiences and private contexts’ (Mattelmäki and Battarbee 2002).”
I plan on taking three specific actions as I build out phase 1 of my digital university. First, think of a positive and motivating approach to advisor learning assessments, Second, facilitate discovery and Éureka moments. Third, approach design with empathy, asking how a digital learning environment be better organized and facilitate simple and easy learning experiences for the busy advisor. This calls for deeper collaboration with the IT team, more approvals, and going back to the drawing board. Yet, I am excited and rejuvenated with the path ahead.
Merlijn Kouprie & Froukje Sleeswijk Visser (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life, Journal of Engineering Design, 20:5, 437-448, DOI: 10.1080/09544820902875033
Sean Kearney (2013) Improving engagement: the use of ‘Authentic self-and peer-assessment for learning’ to enhance the student learning experience, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38:7, 875-891, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2012.751963