Posted in PGCAP Blogs, PhD Blog

Reflection 3 Mentor observation (Understanding the role of assessment in the teaching environment)

This third blog is based on reflections facilitated by a discussion with my mentor. This reflection focuses upon my role as teacher in the learning environment. Furthermore, how I ensure that learning has taken place. The session observed by the mentor was a workshop involving 28 students. The workshop, developed by a colleague, is designed to introduce the concepts of the 6 C’s of good healthcare, which are care, compassion, communication, commitment, courage, and competence (NHS 2017). During the workshop the students watched 6 short videos introducing the 6 Cs. After each video, in small groups, students discussed the video and my main role was to facilitate large group discussion on the good and bad practice each of the groups observed in the videos.

Personally and professionally I am striving to take a level 3 approach to teaching, where my focus is on ensuring students achieve intended learning outcomes of the module through engaging in activities that support the learning process (Biggs and Tang 2011). In addition to this, Ramsden suggests level 3 teachers also ‘systematically adapt what they do to suit student understanding’ (Ramsden 2003 p 115). Although my management and role during the session appeared to facilitate student engagement in the learning process, I discussed with my mentor my concerns that I did not know whether the students had achieved the learning outcomes identified for this session. Furthermore, I was unsure whether students would recall their learning as they were not provided with any workshop notes or other learning material to support the session. My mentor discussed the strategy of using informal assessment to identify the progress of student learning during and at the end of a teaching session. She reports how this helps her to adapt what she does during the session and what subsequent learning material she provides to students in order to support and enahnce their learning experience.

Prior to starting the PGCAP, I viewed the purpose of assessment as a formal method for testing whether students had gained the relevant knowledge and skills to be able to perform the role of an occupational therapist. And for the student, I viewed the purpose of assessment as a method to gain the relevant certificate to get employment as an occupational therapist. Whilst Bloxham and Boyd (2007) acknowledge that whilst the above view is a valid reason for using assessment in higher education, they also identify how assessment can be used less formally to ensure student learning is occurring. For example, during and after individual sessions, they identify how this approach can help the teacher identify if changes to the teaching strategy is required to support student learning. Therefore, adopting the strategies suggested by my mentor and with the purpose identified by Bloxham and Boyd (2007) provides a potential tool for me to support a level 3 approach to teaching. This is because the information gained from this method of assessment provides me with an opportunity to ‘systematically adapt what [I] do to suit student understanding’ (Ramsden 2003 p 115).

From this reflection I have begun to take the following action – the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action relates to the descriptors in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

  • During and at the end of each teaching session, using the learning outcomes, I am adopting ways of establishing the level of student learning. For example, I developed a Kahoot quiz to test the students’ knowledge of key concepts in quantitative data analysis. From the results of the quiz I was able to identify additional reading material on a couple of the concepts students appeared less confident in defining (A1, A2, K2, K5, V1, V2).
  • Having read concepts discussed in Haynes, Haynes, Habeshaw, Gibbs and Habeshaw (2012) I have planned to use recognised strategies for checking student learning. For example I have developed a handout to support the learning for the workshop discussed in this reflection (V3, A5 K5).


Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

Bloxham, S. and Boyd, P., 2007. Developing Effective Assessment In Higher Education: A Practical Guide: A Practical Guide. London: McGraw-Hill Education. (2017). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 November 2016].

NHS (2017). The 6Cs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jan. 2017].

Jaques, D., 2000. Learning in groups: A handbook for improving group work. New York: Psychology Press.

Ramsden, P., 2003. Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.



I am an Occupational Therapist and my main passion is the using the built environment to support people's occupational performance (basically ensuring people are able to do the things they want, need and have to do in their everyday lives without being hindered by the built environment). Having completed an MSc in Accessibility and Inclusive Design I was given an opportunity to complete a PhD, which I did in July 2016. Currently I am based in the School of Health Sciences at University of Salford. My research interest is in the process used by occupational therapists to modify home environments.

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