Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: teamwork

UoP does the TESTA test! An introduction to the TESTA project

From January 2018 to September 2018, The University of Portsmouth will run the Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA) project. Initially involving 10 courses, the aim is to expand this pilot project to more courses and improve the quality of student learning through addressing programme-level assessment​ ​across the university.

What is TESTA?

TESTA, originally funded by the Higher Education Academy, is currently sustained by the University of Winchester and Southampton Solent University. TESTA aims to improve the quality of student learning through addressing programme-level assessment. Over 50 UK universities as well as universities in Australia, India and the USA have engaged with TESTA since its early project days (2009-2012). TESTA works with academics, students and managers – and for students, academics and managers – to identify study behaviour, generate assessment patterns to foster deeper learning across whole programmes, and promote assessment for learning.



  • There needs to be more consistency between modules, across programmes, and a greater emphasis on progressively developing students’ internalisation of programme-level standards, over time, rather than relying on documentation to specify criteria at the level of assignments or modules.
  • The programme view shifts perspectives from: figures/percentages  and student experience surveys (e.g. NSS)  to enhancement strategies;‘my’ unit to ‘our course’; teacher-focused on module delivery to student experience of the whole programme; from individualistic modular design to coherent team design.
  • It engenders a team approach. The process enables the researcher to get to know the team and programme;. It’s a listening process, and a valuing process​. The team make decisions based on data, knowledge and guidance.​
  • It enhances curriculum Design and Pedagogy; a.rebalancing formative and summative, b.making connections across modules, and c. ensuring sequencing and progression of assessment across the programme. Also, developing approaches to formative, including more authentic assessment, influencing curriculum design (content-load etc.) etc.

What does TESTA involve?

The process involves mixed research methods for the sake of a. exploring various dimensions of the programme and b. triangulating the data. The process for each course/programme includes: a TESTA audit; an Assessment Experience Questionnaire; and Student focus groups. The process results in a programme case study report with summary of findings, interpretations and recommendations and an interactive workshop presenting this report.

What people say:

The value was to look at what we do from a scientific perspective and look at things objectively, and that is really enabling us to re-think how we do things. Because it’s driven by the project the staff are very willing and accepting of the data. I don’t think anybody, after we had the meeting with you guys, sat there and said ‘They’re talking absolute rubbish.  What do they know?’ (Programme Leader, Nursing). ​

​‘I’ve found it useful to have a mirror held up, to give a real reflection. We talk about the ‘student voice’, but actually this has provided a mechanism, which isn’t part of the programme, which isn’t the evaluation’ (Programme Leader, Education).​

TESTA has revealed some really interesting and, I believe, accurate information about our programme/ approaches/ student experience.  The details of your report have enabled some really strong shifts. We would not have reached these conclusions otherwise and I feel that TESTA has had the desired effect of enabling us to think a little more progressively.’ (Programme Leader, Dance)

‘Our very productive TESTA meeting has stimulated much discussion about how we can develop our modules to include more formative feedback and more engagement in large lectures. Somedevelopments will be incorporated in the interim validation and others will influence our departmental policy on assessment and feedback for next year’ (Programme Leader, Psychology.)

More information about TESTA and a variety of resources can be found at and

Any interested programme/course leaders can send an email to or

Image credits: Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Day 10: Slack

What is Slack?

Today we’re looking at Slack — a messaging app that aims to reduce the amount of email sent between people working in teams. The app is available for iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS. Although it’s aimed primarily for teams of people in the workplace, it’s applicable to teams working together on any project. The benefits of Slack will vary depending on how you and those you work with communicate: if you chat a lot, share files and thoughts, and like the fact that everything is searchable, then Slack might just be for you. We use it in the 12Apps office and we love it!

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Slack requires you (or someone in your group) to take the lead and set up your team. This will be the place all of your communication is stored. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to invite the people you want to work with.

Slack organizes messages into what it calls channels. You’ll start off with some default channels, but it’s best to take the time to set up some of your own. Think of these as topics of conversation — in the 12Apps team we tend to set up a new channel for each project we are working on; this helps keep our chat on-topic and focused. Of course we all need a break so it’s also a good idea to create a channel for general off-topic chat, and perhaps even the occasional animated gif!

Notifications are extremely customisable in Slack. You can be notified for all messages, if you wish, but since that might become overwhelming there are options to reduce the amount of pop-ups you receive. You can instead choose to be notified only when your name is mentioned; or, which is what many of us in the 12Apps team do, you can enter keywords that notify you when they are used in messages by others. For example, if you were working on part of project that involved the use of Moodle, you could enter the keyword ‘Moodle’ and it would notify you when someone mentioned it. It’s a clever way of reducing the distractions that endless notifications can provide.

What’s crucial is that the app keeps everything up to date across all of your devices — that obviously includes your messages, but also the notification settings we have just looked at. These are all adjustable on one device and then they populate across to the other devices on which you have Slack installed.

How could this app help me?

Setting up open channels to discuss projects (or distinct parts of projects) has meant our team has been able to share much more of what we are working on with each other; this has helped us contribute ideas and thoughts to projects that we wouldn’t necessarily have been involved with before.

Having all your ideas about a project in one place proves to be convenient when you realise you need to search through your chat history for a specific exchange or file you sent to another team member a some time ago. Slack’s aim is that you spend less time searching for files and content, and spend more time creating — hence it’s tagline: ‘Be less busy’.

This is one of those apps where you get out what you put in — so if there’s a group of you who need to work together, give it a go!

Ideas for using the app:

  • Students can use the app to collaborate with other team members on their group work.
  • Staff could use the app to set up a team for a unit or subject area, to share ideas or work.
  • Really anything you need to communicate on, you could use Slack.

To find out more about Slack, check out how the TEL team are using Slack in ‘Is your team ‘slack’ing when it comes to communication ? ‘

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