A team of 16 academics teaching on the BSc Biomedical Sciences programmes came together to eliminate the compartmentalised approach to learning experienced by students on modular programmes and to reduce the assessment load for staff and students.
The team consisted of staff from all levels within Biosciences. Some were recently appointed probationary academics whilst others were more experienced senior lecturers, readers and professors. Integrated Programme Assessment (IPA) takes a holistic and authentic approach to assessment that requires links to be made between subject topics, facilitates integration and application of knowledge and ensures that graduates are able to evaluate, communicate and make use of complex information.
Impact of work
The outcome of this approach is reflected in improved NSS scores, degree outcomes and graduate employment. IPA is recognised as good practice by PSRBs, and external examiners comment that:
“The methodology of separating assessment blocks from teaching blocks increase the abilities of students to synthesise material and develop critical thinking and should be commended.”
IPA has resulted in a collegiate learning and teaching environment, and coherent programmes where all students demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes through common assessment blocks focusing on skills. The assessment load is reduced (by up to two-thirds), repeated skills testing avoided, and feedback quality has improved. For Brunel, IPA has demonstrated the feasibility and benefit of separating study and assessment leading to revision of regulations for post-graduate degrees. It has informed the revised institutional approach to programme design and development, serving as a driver for the introduction of Recognised Programme Developers and the formal inclusion of students in programme design teams and approval panels.
Plans for the future
With a strong evidence base we want to disseminate the benefits of IPA more widely across the sector and we have applied to facilitate a session at the HEA conference in July 2017. At Brunel, all programme developments are required to consider IPA, and members of the team are supporting departments to adopt IPA.
Brunel University London