Richard Hawkins and Harvey Woolf gave a presentation on their project work at the 13th Annual Teaching and Learning in History Conference in Oxford on 4th - 5th April 2011. A full conference report will be available in May, but the presentation slides are available to view: Beyond the Portfolio: Assessing Workplace Learning in Undergraduate History programmes across UK HEIs.
Final Project Findings ...
Following the successful completion of the project in June 2011, the key findings are detailed on this website under the following headings:
Take a look at the interim project report: initial survey findings [Jan 2011]
This report summarises the quantitative responses to the project's online survey: open from 16th September to 30th November 2010. Over half the institutions believed to offer WPL modules have responded so far.
If your department was not able respond to the survey and would be willing to contribute, please contact Richard Hawkins and Harvey Woolf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project findings to date were presented at our annual Conference, April 2011. Please take a look at the presentation details.
Project Introduction and context
1. Opportunities for work place learning (wpl)  are increasingly being offered as an option on UK undergraduate History courses. This growth was recognised by the History Benchmark Revision Group in 2007 when it ‘acknowledge[d]… the growing number and importance of learning activities such as fieldwork, community-based projects, work placements and so on’. Geoff Timmins and colleagues’ survey of numeracy provision in History programmes provides empirical evidence to support the Benchmarking Group’s conclusion
2. Although there is a vast literature on work-based learning (wbl), there is comparatively little written on the assessment of this form of learning and even less, if anything, on the assessment of wbl in History. This is surprising given the centrality of assessment to learning and teaching, a view signalled very clearly in the History Benchmark Statement (see paragraph 2.8 page 3).
3. The prime purposes of this proposal are to fill this lacuna in the literature and to encourage debate about the assessment of wpl.
4. A subsidiary goal is to promote discussion about assessment in History programmes more broadly in the light of the History Benchmark Statement that ‘[d]iversity in assessment is vital for two main reasons. First, the full range of a student's abilities is most unlikely to be revealed through any single mode. Second, the increasingly diverse educational background and formal qualifications presented on entry suggest that the degree programme should afford all students the opportunity to show what they know, understand and can do’ (paragraph 6.11).
5. To identify the methods used to assess work place learning in UK undergraduate History courses.
To disseminate good practice in the assessment of work place learning across the sector.
To stimulate discussion about assessment methods generally in History programmes.
6. The outputs will be:
- A web-based compendium of assessment of wpl practices
- A contribution to the proposed book on History Graduates with Impact
- History Subject Centre national and regional Workshops
- Conference presentations
- Journal articles
7. The following methods will be used:
- Desk audit of content of History courses to identify wpl options
- Online survey of module leaders to obtain a more finely grained understanding of assessment methods supported by Subject Centre IT specialists
- Interviews with a sample of module leaders to explore in further details issues generated by different types of assessment of wpl, including the role of External Examiners.
Brennan, L. (2005) Integrating work-based learning into higher education: A guide to good practice. Report for UVAC/LCCI Commercial Education Trust.
Harvey, L. (2009) Review of research literature focussed on foundation degrees. Report for Foundation Degrees Forward. fdf.
QAA. (2007) History Benchmark Statement. QAA.
QAA. (2010) Employer-responsive provision survey A reflective report. QAA.
Student Assessment and Classification Working Group. (2009), The Assessment of Work-based Learning in Foundation Degrees: A Literature Search. fdf, unpublished.
Timmins, J G et al. (continuing) Numeracy web survey. History Subject Centre.
Woolf, H. (2008), Developing work-based access to Higher Education courses. fdf.
 There is considerable debate about the definition of work-based learning and associated terms such as placement learning and work experience. See, for example, Woolf, H (2008) Developing work-based access to Higher Education courses, fdf, 6. Work place learning is used here to signify any form of learning activity that occurs in a work setting or involves a commission from an employer of some kind.
 QAA (2007) History Benchmark Statement, iv.
 Timmins, J G et al. (continuing) Numeracy web survey.
 See Brennan, L. (2005) Integrating work-based learning into higher education: A guide to good practice; Harvey, L. (2009), Review of research literature focussed on foundation degrees; Student Assessment and Classification Working Group (2009), The Assessment of Work-based Learning in Foundation Degrees: A Literature Search. Both of the two latter reports cover wpl in courses other than Foundation Degrees.
 For a brief introduction to the issues surrounding the role of External Examiners, see QAA ( 2010) Employer-responsive provision survey A reflective report, 24-26.