Connections Seminar: "Threshold vs mastery": a new way to teach and assess 1st year chemistry

Presented by Dr Luke Hunter, Scientia Education Academy Fellow, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Connections Seminar: "Threshold vs mastery": a new way to teach and assess 1st year chemistry

If the only requirement to pass a course is to get 50% of the total marks, then it’s possible for a student to pass with zero knowledge of some parts of the syllabus, by getting enough marks in other parts. And there’s no consistency in learning outcomes from one student to another. This causes flow-on issues in higher year courses (because we need to re-teach everything) and in the workforce (because we can’t guarantee what our graduates actually know).

To address these problems, the UNSW School of Chemistry is pioneering a radically new model of teaching and assessment. In the new model, students earn a series of “badges,” or micro-credentials, covering both laboratory skills and theory knowledge. By designating some of these badges as being essential for a pass, we can for the first time mandate a consistent minimum package of skills and knowledge that all of our graduates possess. In this seminar, I'll describe how we've implemented this model, including how we've built extensive online aspects into the teaching and assessment in order to cope with large class sizes. I'll discuss the impacts and benefits that this model has started to offer for both students and educators.

This presentation aligns with the following UNSW Communities of Practice 'Digital Assessment: empowering students and supporting teachers through innovative student-oriented educational practices, Flipped Learning CoP, Online Resources for Transforming Teaching and Learning at UNSW: Tools, Testimonials & Templates.' More information can be found here.

About Luke

Dr Luke HunterSince 2013, Luke has served as the School of Chemistry's First Year Coordinator, and during that time there have been major changes to the way that Chemistry is taught at UNSW. There've been significant forays into blended learning; efforts to bring experimental demonstrations back into the lecture theatre; a new skills-based assessment model for the laboratory class; and a push towards awarding microcredentials for theory knowledge. The overarching goals are to make learning engaging, and to give detailed and authentic feedback to both students and teachers. Read more here.


Event details

9th Jul 2019, 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Access the presentation and Echo360 recording of the seminar here

To access the live stream link, access is via our Moodle site (self-enrolment key: unswconnections)