Students can be fearful of writing a review paper and presenting this paper to their lectures and peers. There would have been situations where students would skip the presenting aspect of assignments and taken a zero grade for that portion of the module due to the fear of public speaking. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a set of guidelines which can guide Lecturers in planning module delivery and assessments. UDL caters for the diverse learning styles of our student cohort. UDL is a neuroscience informed pedagogy that provides three core principles on how students embrace and perceive learning. The third UDL principle is focused on providing learners with a choice of assessment type. 34 Stage 4 (final year) students completing their BEng (Level 8) honours degree in Biomedical & Mechanical Engineering, complete a modules titled “Medical Devices for Soft Tissues”. For 20% of this module the students have to write and present a review paper on one medical device or medical therapy topic. This can challenge their research, writing and presenting skills. In an attempt to address these fears, students were provided two choices (1) a choice of review paper topic from a comprehensive list and (2) a choice on how they wish to present their chosen review paper topic. Learners were provided with five presenting options – brochure, poster, video, presentation and other. 29 out of 30 surveyed students preferred to have an option. Two separate groups totally 34 students, presented their review papers in person to their peers. 20 students selected the video option saved in different video file formats while 12 students opted to present their work via PowerPoint presentations. Two other students presented a poster. After completion, the students were surveyed (n = 23), with 21 of these students preferred to have a choice on the presenting style. Students were also asked to provide written feedback on having these choices. Regarding having a choice on the review paper topic, some of the comments were “Having a choice helps the author feel more free to create the review in their own way” and “I think it is much easier to talk about something you choose to write about” and further comments on having a choice of presenting style were “I think it takes a lot of pressure off knowing that you can choose how to present your work”, “it’s good to give students the option so that they can showcase their best work” and “the choice made the assignments less stressful”. A 5-point Likert scale confirmed that 100% of surveyed students agreed or strongly agreed that “Assessment method choice reduces the stress levels associated with assignment hand ups”.

Author: Liam Morris

Published in: Ireland International Conference on Education (IICE-2022)

  • Date of Conference: 18-20 October 2022
  • DOI: 10.20533/IICE.2022.10.0004
  • ISBN: 978-1-913572-47-1
  • Conference Location: Virtual (Dún Laoghaire, Ireland)