DEP: 6.5 Academic Assessment Descriptions

In keeping with the overall course aim to integrate theory and practice, all academic work should also address any practical/professional implications. In addition, all written work will be considered in the light of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) requirement to be able to demonstrate effective and appropriate skills in communicating information in a manner consistent with professional practice, demonstrating effective use of language & grammar and avoiding inaccuracies of spelling or punctuation. The author should ensure connections are made within and between sentences, paragraphs and sections in order to ensure ideas flow together smoothly and logically.

Assessment criteria for Essays

In Year 1 trainees write two 4,000 word essays linked to the two core academic modules PSYC 6070 and PSYC 6071. Essays represent an opportunity for trainees to demonstrate their knowledge about specialised topics within educational psychology in relation to relevant theoretical frameworks, research and application.

Essays will also be awarded a simple Pass/Fail grade for: basic written expression, including spelling, grammar and punctuation; cohesion, adherence to APA writing guidelines; and accurate and complete presentation of references. The marking/feedback sheet for essays is shown in Appendix 4.1

The assessment criteria for essays are:

Distinction

  • the essay succinctly presents a clear rationale for discussion of the topic, demonstrating with the use of relevant literature an awareness of all the current key ideas in the area under consideration and explaining the value of the essay’s proposed synthesis of its materials
  • the essay identifies and accurately defines all of its key terminology including concepts, theories, methods and methodological issues that are relevant to its topic
  • the essay has a coherent structure including an overview, a strong narrative and a concluding section that addresses its title and the issues raised in its introduction
  • logical arguments and conclusions are always informed by the author’s systematic evaluation of primary source material
  • in all sections of the essay there is evidence of independent critical thinking with an appropriate balance between material that is supported and rejected through critical analysis
  • the essay successfully integrates material from a variety of sources, demonstrating an awareness of the varying degrees of relevance of different material to the topic under discussion
  • the essay demonstrates an awareness of wider applications of its conclusions to applied settings, including identifying gaps in the research that subsequent work could address

Pass

  • the essay presents a clear rationale for discussion of the topic, demonstrating with the use of relevant literature an awareness of the key ideas in the area under consideration and the value of the essay’s proposed synthesis of its materials
  • the essay identifies and defines its key terminology including concepts, theories, methods and methodological issues that are relevant to its topic
  • the essay has a coherent structure including an overview and a concluding section that addresses its title and the issues raised in its introduction
  • there is evidence of logical arguments and conclusions being drawn from the author’s own critical evaluation of primary source material
  • there is evidence of critical thinking and material that is supported and rejected through critical analysis
  • the essay successfully integrates material from a variety of sources
  • the essay demonstrates an awareness of wider applications of its conclusions to applied settings

Low Pass

  • the essay presents a rationale for discussion of the topic which is not well supported by references to the literature and/or demonstrates gaps in the author’s awareness of some of the key ideas in the area under consideration
  • some key terminology, including concepts, theories, methods and methodological issues, remains undefined or poorly defined in the essay
  • the essay has a structure that is sometimes difficult to follow and may be lacking an overview or a concluding section that clearly addresses its title and the issues raised in its introduction
  • use of logical argument is inconsistent and/or there is over-use of secondary source material
  • there is some evidence of critical thinking, but conclusions of other authors are sometimes accepted uncritically, there is over-reliance on material that supports only a single line of argument
  • the essay does not show sufficient awareness of the range of possible sources of material relevant to its topic
  • the essay gives minimal consideration to wider applications of its conclusions to applied settings

Fail

  • the essay has no coherent rationale for the approach it takes to the topic and/or the author’s position suggests they have misunderstood fundamental ideas or key questions in this area
  • key terminology, including concepts, theories, methods and methodological issues, remains undefined or poorly defined in the essay
  • the essay has a structure that is difficult to follow and lacks an overview and/or a concluding section that clearly addresses its title and the issues raised in its introduction
  • there is little or no logical argument and/or there is over-use of secondary source material that is not coherent
  • conclusions of other authors are accepted uncritically, there is insufficient evidence of independent thinking and there is evidence of unsubstantiated and subjective judgements
  • the source material for the essay reflects a superficial understanding of the topic and/or reading that has not gone significantly beyond indicative material that might be suggested by programme staff
  • the essay gives no consideration to application of its conclusions or makes suggestions that lack credibility

Assessment criteria for Academic Critiques 

Year 2 trainees complete two 3,000 word academic critiques linked to the two core academic modules PSYC 8040 and PSYC 8041. The academic critique requires trainees to extend their ability to demonstrate their knowledge about specific interventions within educational psychology. Trainees are expected to consider the evidence base for a particular intervention and to evaluate the literature systematically and critically. This should include a consideration of any studies examining the intervention’s impact and effectiveness, and also the identification of relevant psychological theory and the degree to which the intervention is supported by it. They are also required to consider how any conclusions they draw may impact on advice they give to other professionals in a variety of settings.

Trainees should include in an appendix to the academic critique a short description of the strategies they used in searching for information about their chosen intervention, aiming to make this as replicable and as systematic as possible.  Where a trainee has been in direct contact with either the author of intervention materials or an associated researcher, they must seek written permission from them that the information gathered will be presented in a written critique viewed and stored at the University of Southampton and potentially published, either on the course blog or in other media.

Critiques will also be awarded a simple pass/fail grade for: basic written expression, including spelling, grammar and punctuation, and cohesion; adherence to APA writing guidelines; and accurate and complete presentation of references. The marking/ feedback sheet for academic critique is shown in Appendix 4.2

The assessment criteria for academic critiques are:

Distinction

  • The trainee has presented a clear and convincing rationale for use of the intervention in question and drawn on wider contextual factors.
  • The trainee has employed a structure which organises content very effectively and which makes the critique as a whole very straightforward to follow.
  • The trainee consistently shows clear evidence of independent critical thinking, across the critique and demonstrates an appropriate balance between material that is supported and rejected through critical analysis.
  • The trainee has integrated systematically material from a variety of sources, demonstrating an awareness of the varying degrees of relevance of different material to the intervention under discussion. Where the trainee has identified differing opinions or conclusions expressed within the literature, the trainee attempts to synthesise these or to explain the reasons for such differing conclusion.
  • The trainee has demonstrated a very clear understanding of the wider applications of the critique’s conclusions to professional practice and discussed with clarity how these conclusions might impact on professional advice in a variety of settings.
  • Search strategies are systematically described and documented in detail, such that the search could be easily and precisely replicated

Pass

  • The trainee has presented a rationale for use of the intervention in question..
  • The trainee has structured content effectively.
  • There is evidence of critical thinking in a number of places, including material that is supported and/or rejected through critical analysis.
  • The trainee has integrated systematically material from a variety of sources.
  • The trainee has demonstrated an awareness of some of the wider applications of their conclusions to professional practice.
  • Search strategies are documented in such a way that the search could be replicated

Low Pass

  • The trainee has presented an incomplete or unclear rationale for use of the intervention in question.
  • The trainee has made some attempt to structure content, but some aspects of the organisation of material are unclear or unhelpful.
  • There is some evidence of critical thinking in one or two places, but more generally conclusions of other authors are accepted uncritically and/or there is over-reliance on material that supports only a single line of argument.
  • The trainee has not addressed the literature in a systematic fashion, or shown sufficient awareness of the range of possible sources of material relevant to the intervention in question.
  • The trainee has given minimal consideration to the wider applications of their conclusions to professional practice.
  • Search strategies are incompletely presented, such that additional information would be required from the trainee in order that the search be replicated.

Fail

  • The trainee has not presented a rationale for use of the intervention in question or has presented one which is inaccurate or incoherent.
  • Little or no attempt has been made by the trainee to organise information in a structure.
  • There is insufficient evidence of independent thinking, such that the conclusions of other authors are accepted uncritically and/or unsubstantiated and subjective claims/judgements are made.
  • The source material for the critique reflects a superficial understanding of the intervention and relevant research.
  • The trainee has given no consideration to the application of their conclusions or has made suggestions that lack credibility.
  • Search strategies are missing or documented in such an incomplete manner that no replication could possibly be attempted.

Assessment criteria for the review for Evidence Based Practice

In Year 1 you will be required to critically evaluate a published article. The aim of this assignment is for you to demonstrate your ability to systematically assess the quality (ie. strengths and weaknesses) of a piece of published research, and to gain experience of using a structured framework. Structured frameworks are routinely used for evaluating the quality of research papers and you will use this in your systematic review for your thesis. You will be provided with a journal article paper to review. You should first read the paper and then select a structured evaluation framework by which to consider different elements of the paper. You are free to select from the list below, or to source your own evaluation framework.

Quantitative controlled studies

Downs and Black https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1756728/pdf/v052p00377.pdf

Qualitative studies

RATS http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/suppl/2012/01/12/bmjopen-2011-000138.DC1/BMJ_Open_IMG_Physician_Migration_RATS_Checklist.pdf

Quantitative and qualitative

CASP tools http://www.casp-uk.net/casp-tools-checklists

You should then produce a critical review of the paper, keeping to a word limit of 2000 words (not including the Appendix or References).

Your work will be marked against the following criteria:

Discussion of theoretical base and background literature, including explanation of what the contribution of the paper will be. Where the authors fail to provide explanation of this the trainee is expected to comment on this). 

  1. Fail – Insufficient demonstration of low pass criterion
  2. Low Pass – Acknowledges rationale and the journal article’s place in the literature and theoretical context.
  3. Pass – Shows how the article’s method and hypotheses are derived from the literature and theoretical context.
  4. Distinction – provides evidenced evaluative comment on the application of literature and theoretical standpoint.

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the applied methodology

  1. Fail – Insufficient demonstration of low pass criterion
  2. Low pass – Describes methodology accurately: provides some or limited critique (such as sample size).
  3. Pass – Identifies strengths and weaknesses of the research design and its ability to answer the research questions (or test the stated hypotheses).
  4. Distinction – Passes comment on the appropriateness of the selected methodology to answer the research questions (or test the stated hypotheses) and considers any appropriate alternatives.

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the applied analytical techniques

  1. Fail – Insufficient demonstration of low pass criterion
  2. Low pass – Describes the applied analytical techniques accurately, provides some or limited critique (such as the limits of correlational analysis or the lack of generalisability of qualitative studies)
  3. Pass – Identifies strengths and weaknesses of the statistical analysis and/or analytical framework as applied to the collected data. Comments on the degree to which the results are supported by the applied analysis and the presented data. Considers the author’s rigour in the application of their chosen analytic technique (e.g., does the data conform to necessary assumptions for the applied statistical test; has there been appropriate consideration to issues of reliability, credibility, and bias).
  4. Distinction – Passes insightful comment, perhaps drawn from a wider base of literature, to support conclusions drawn about the strengths and weaknesses of the analysis.

Discussion of the conclusion and its implications

  1.  Fail – Insufficient demonstration of low pass criterion
  2. Low pass – Accurately describes the authors’ stated conclusions but inadequately considers the extent to which these conclusions are supported by the supplied evidence. Makes some comment about the overall quality of the piece but the comment is disconnected from the prior discussion.
  3. Pass – Considers the ability of the results to support the authors’ stated conclusions. Passes comment on the appropriateness of the contribution of the conclusions to the academic literature. Passes comment on the overall quality of the work in a way that is informed by the prior discussion.
  4. Distinction – Passes well-evidenced and insightful comment on the overall quality of the work that is then used to identify well-reasoned future directions for research or ways in which the conclusions can be applied.

Includes a completed checklist with rationale

You should include an Appendix that contains your completed checklist/evaluation framework along with a brief (no more than 200 words, whose word count is not included in the total submission limit of 1500 words) explanation of why this framework was chosen.

Standard of writing and presentation

To pass this criterion, your work should be presented in a manner consistent with professional practice, demonstrating effective use of language & grammar and avoiding inaccuracies of spelling or punctuation. You should ensure that your work makes connections within and between sentences, paragraphs and sections in order to ensure ideas flow together smoothly and logically.

APA guidelines

To pass this criterion, your work should be formatted and written in a manner that is consistent with APA guidelines.

References

To pass this criterion, your work should include a full set of references in a separate section, appropriately formatted in a style consistent with APA guidelines.