Designing assessment rubrics has become an important pedagogical
practice for lecturers in the Wits School of Education (WsoE)
in the recognition of writing as a valuable tool for teaching and
learning across disciplines. This paper describes and reflects
on the process of adapting the SOLO taxonomy (Structure of
Observed Learning Outcomes) devised by Biggs and Collis (1982)
into assessment criteria for two assessment tasks in Social Science
Methodology and Inclusive Education (Learning Support 1) courses.
Through a collaborative relationship between the course presenter
(Rembach1) and the WSoE teaching and learning advisor (Dison)
over a four-year period, a number of rubrics based on the SOLO
taxonomy were created, revised and refined for specific tasks in
order to determine how students were responding to the set tasks
at different levels of cognition. The paper demonstrates several
learning benefits that emerged from the process of adapting the
SOLO taxonomy for different task requirements, such as better
scaffolding of tasks, enhanced student learning, collaborative
professional development and better modelling.
Given the diverse student population in the School of Education,
there is a strong need to establish a deeper and more nuanced
understanding of how course and assessment tasks influence
student learning. As assessment plays a fundamental role in
shaping student learning in a course (Biggs, 2011), we need to
understand how it can contribute meaningfully to promoting higher
order thinking outcomes in education courses.
The paper illustrates the central role of assessment criteria in
strengthening the relationship between lecturer and student
development in designing assessments for these two courses in
the Wits School of Education.