Educational development and the CETL Assessment for learning: visions for the future or a detour along the way?

Liz McDowell

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


The CETL in Assessment for Learning (CETL AfL) is an institution-wide CETL in a university with significant long-standing educational development activity. We were therefore impelled to look from the start for alternative ways to do things and we drew on the principles and values encapsulated in our approach to AfL. We regarded educational development as a form of learning and therefore hoped that the approaches we used to help students to learn would also be effective in staff and organisational learning (McDowell, 2006). Some of our principles may seem to run counter to widely accepted logic about development and change. For example, we are more concerned to promote diverse and individual solutions to assessment problems rather than to secure the adoption of ‘best practice’. We are concerned about the environment, from physical spaces to regulatory structures, and its affordances for teaching, learning and assessment. Our perspective fits much better with complexity models of change (Trowler, Saunders and Knight, 2003), than with techno-rationalist approaches common in HE. Not everything that we have tried has ‘worked’ but we have had successes and we are able to challenge some ‘myths’. One myth is that staff are so busy that they will only be persuaded to do something if it saves time – not true! Many staff are persuaded by, and are actively seeking, ways to improve things for their students. Another myth is that CETL is just seen as somewhere to get ready funding to shore up existing activities – not true! Many staff value the opportunity to ‘be part of something’ and ‘have like-minded people to talk to’ more than access to funding. Experience has to some extent endorsed our approach but we remain self-critical. Is this a diversion, made possible due to the special circumstances of CETL or a contribution to the future of educational development?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2008
Event13th Annual SEDA Conference - Birmingham
Duration: 18 Nov 2008 → …


Conference13th Annual SEDA Conference
Period18/11/08 → …


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