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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton’s award winning approach to assessment and feedback

Published: 30 August 2018
Image of RAP team at THELMA awards
The RAP team were previously shortlisted for a THELMA award

The Researching Assessment Practices team (RAP) brings students, lecturers and professional services staff together to enhance assessment practices across the University.

RAP, established by Professor Carol Evans at the University’s Education School, has been awarded the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) by Advance HE in recognition of its innovative approach to assessment and feedback. The group’s premise is that assessment feedback must be jointly owned by the student community and academics so that students can actively contribute rather than simply regard assessment as something that happens to them. 

They use an assessment and feedback Framework developed by Professor Evans, Evans Assessment Tool or EAT, which has been informed by extensive education, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology research. Using the principles underpinning EAT, the aim has been to develop inclusive assessment practices that promote staff and student agency in teaching and learning.

The group has had a significant impact since it was set up in 2015, helping shape curriculum development with notable increase in student satisfaction shown in National Student Survey scores, and making a substantial contribution to the improvement of the University of Southampton’s Teaching Excellence rating. The team comprises colleagues and students working across disciplines led by a RAP Think tank of Faculty RAP leads working closely with all teams across the University to ensure a co-ordinated approach in supporting the University’s Simply Better Strategy.

Professor Evans said “We are delighted and honoured to have been recognised for a CATE award by Advance HE. RAP comprises a highly committed and inspirational team, all passionate about enhancing assessment with tangible impacts on curriculum design, and student satisfaction, and learning outcomes, as already evidenced in our Catalyst A (HEFCE/OfS) projects involving Biological Sciences, Business, Curriculum Innovation, Economics, Electronics, Film, Law, Mathematics, Nursing, Ocean and Earth Sciences, and Psychology. 

“We are also leading on the implementation of the first Advance HE accredited specialist assessment pathway to fellowship which highlights the importance of our research-informed and collegiate approach. I would like to thank all members of RAP (staff and students) for their on-going commitment to enhancing assessment at the University, and their contributions more widely. The CATE Award is invaluable in supporting us in developing this work further.”

This is the latest high profile recognition for the RAP team who were shortlisted in the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs) earlier this year for Teaching Strategy of the Year. They also received over £550,000 funding from the Office for Students (OfS), with institutional matched funding to scale up the EAT Framework approach working with the University of Surrey and Kingston University, and to consider further scaling up potential at national level.

Advance HE was formed in March 2018, following the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

The RAP team is also in the running to receive an additional ‘Spotlight Award’ which highlights particular aspects of collaborative practice or the outcomes of collaborations from which the broader HE sector can benefit. The ‘Spotlight Awards’ will be announced at the awards ceremony which will be held later this year.


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