Dr C. Rashaad Shabab
In this case study, Senior Lecturer and award-winning teacher of Economics, Dr C. Rashaad Shabab, talks about how he is using podcasts as an innovative new assessment mode at Sussex.
What I did
I offered podcasts as an innovative new assessment mode for my module Topics in Growth and Inequality, which is a completely new module that I developed last year for the Economics Department. The assignment was to present a 3-minute micro podcast on something that related to inequality in the real world that used models, insights or empirical studies covered in class. Students had access to the Audacity software package, and I posted a link to a good YouTube tutorial on using Audacity on Canvas.
Why I did it
This assessment mode came out of a discussion with Professor Barry Reilly about formulating innovative assessments that could easily be highlighted by students to potential employers. First, we wanted students to go to the labour market with an asset that they could showcase to employers on LinkedIn to set their applications apart. Second, most assessments are tiring and anxiety-inducing for students. We wanted to make an assessment that was fun and engaging. Third, during the pandemic, there was a structural shift in content consumption that is here to stay – podcasts and streaming are the new tools for professional and academic engagement and infotainment. We were not teaching these skills to our students. We wanted to fill this gap between skills and labour market demands and the skills that our students were graduating with.
Impact and student feedback
Students loved it! I could tell they were having fun while doing their podcasts. It got a wider group of students to excel than would have done using traditional assessment modes. Also, this assignment ensured that students with reasonable adjustments were not being assessed in inferior ways to their classmates. We wanted to craft an assessment that maintained its integrity for a wider cross-section of students to make sure that diverse students could engage with equally enriching assessments as their peers.
The assessment was individual so there was some time involved in marking and providing feedback on it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the podcasts as well, whereas typical assessment marking can be a bit tedious! It also meant less work in terms of designing reasonable adjustments
I plan to keep this assessment mode for the future. The only change I have made is that I have changed the formal type of assessment from ‘presentation’ to ‘media’. This enables a 7-day late period, which I think is appropriate for this type of assessment.
What advice would you give another member of staff/department who wanted to
emulate what you have done? Please give your top 3 tips for someone wanting to do something similar
1. Keep it compact so that students are forced to think about what is important.
2. Publish the question well in advance and give students feedback on the first draft weeks before the final deadline.
3. Encourage students to share their podcasts on LinkedIn using your module code and name as a hashtag.