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WPL Survey information

Assessment of workplace learning in UK undergraduate History courses


Thank you very much for participating in this online survey. The survey, which is the second phase of a HEA History Subject Centre-funded project, will capture for the first time information about the range of workplace learning in UK undergraduate programmes, including Foundation Degrees, their organisation and the ways in which this type of learning is assessed.

The survey should take only 5-10 minutes to complete as most of the questions require only the selection of responses to a list of options. Institutions will be identified in the final report when we cite examples of best practice, unless you indicate (when prompted in the survey) that you would prefer not to have your institution named.

If you would like further information, please contact Richard Hawkins and Harvey Woolf at history dot wpl at wlv dot ac dot uk

Further information and useful definitions

Workplace learning

Of the many definitions and interpretations of the term workplace learning, the one we are using in the project is taken from the 2007 section 9, Work-based and placement learning, of the QAA’s Code of Practice:

‘Placement learning is …the learning achieved during an agreed and negotiated period of learning that takes place outside the institution at which the full or part-time student is enrolled or engaged in learning [and]…the learning outcomes are intended as integral parts of a programme of study' (paragraphs 13,16, p5).

The placement can be paid or unpaid.


We are defining moderation as:

The review of a sample of marked assignments by a third party to confirm the appropriateness and consistency of the marks/grades awarded for the assignment.

Objective Structured Clinical/Practical Examinations (OSC/PEs)

OSC/PEs are extensively used in medical education to assess students’ skills, competency and knowledge.

The University of Liverpool’s Clinical Resource Centre notes that:

 ‘OSCEs consist of a series of stations around which candidates rotate. At each station the candidate must perform a predefined task within a set time limit’. 

(, accessed 1 August 2010)

R C Arnold and A.D Walmsley (2008, 126) provided a fuller account of the process:

‘The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) was developed by Harden and Gleeson in Dundee in 1975 as a reliable way of assessing clinical skills. It has since been used increasingly to evaluate student performance, mainly at undergraduate level, but increasingly in postgraduate medical assessment. It was developed as a means of assessing clinical competency based on objective testing through direct observation in a formal setting. Candidates are expected to perform several tasks related to different aspects of their area of study, in a given time, against criteria formulated to the skill or attitude being tested. These can include the ability to interpret data, solve problems, obtain information from a patient, establish rapport or communicate. ‘Standardised patients’, usually actors, can be used to provide simulated clinical encounters.’

Arnold, R. C. and Walmsley, A. D. (2008) ‘The use of the OSCE in postgraduate education’, European Journal of Dental Education, 12, 126–130.

Fawzia Zaidi and Penny Franklin have reported on the development and implementation of OSCEs in their specialist fields.

Zaidi, Fawzia (2006) ‘Developing and running an OSCE: a personal reflection’, British Journal of Midwifery, 14:12, 725-9.

Franklin, Penny (2005), ’OSCEs as a means of assessment for the practice of nurse prescribing’, Nurse Prescribing, 3:1, 14-23

You Tube has an array of clips on OSCEs in action.


Patchwork text

Although the patchwork text had its origins in professional development programmes in the 1990s, the technique has been used more widely in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Peter Ovens (2003, 546) described the approach as:

 ‘…students writ[ing] several short pieces, the ‘patches’, at intervals throughout the module and then at the end, the patches are ‘stitched together’ to make a Patchwork Text.’

Ovens, Peter (2003) ‘A patchwork text approach to assessment in teacher education’, Teaching in Higher Education, 8: 4, 545-562.

Lydia Arnold et al (2009, 151,152) explained that the Patchwork Text is:

‘made up of a gradually assembled set of writing tasks (patches) that are further engaged with, through a reflective commentary known as stitching.

‘Students have to complete intermediate tasks and are expected to share these drafts with groups of peers. Peers reciprocally undertake reviews and give formative feedback about each other’s work.

‘The final task of a Patchwork text seeks to unify the ‘fragments’ of the learning, (the patches) through a critical and personal reflection on the learning process of the module as whole... .’

Arnold, Lydia, Williams, Tim & Thompson, Kevin (2009) ‘Advancing the Patchwork Text: The Development of Patchwork Media Approaches’, International Journal of Learning, 16: 5, 151-166.

In 2003 Innovations in Education and Teaching International devoted the whole of issue 2 of volume 40 of the journal to the Patchwork Text.