Tertiary Teaching and Learning G Assessment 2: assessment activity


Nov 9, 2013 (4 years and 6 months ago)


Jasmyn Lynch

Tertiary Teaching and Learning G

assessment acti

Design of the a
ssessment activity

Assessment activity:
EIS review

To prepare a

written report and verbal presentation on
the comprehensiveness and adequacy
an environmental impact statement (EIS).

and ten specific criteria
(Appendix 1) a
re provided

as a framework for assessing the


the EIS for their review. A list of suitable EISs for review is provided as a
guide. S
tudents may select another EIS but should confirm its suitability with the lecturer.

The EIS review report should not exceed 3000 words (about six typed pages) and must
include an Executive Summary of approximately 300 words, summarising the key elements
of the student’s review and recommendation(s).
Detailed formatting instructions are available
(Appendix 2).

The report should
review how well
(or not)
the EIS meets each of the
broad goals
, including a
recommended grade
Appendix 1)
for each broa
d goal, and
reasons for the grading. How well the EIS meets each of the Specific criteria should also be
given a grade of A
E, along with brief written comments

on your reasoning

The v
erbal EIS review presentations

should f
ocus on how well (or not) the E
IS meets the four
broad goals, with recommendations ab
ut how well (or not) the goals are met, including a
grade (A
; Appendix 1
) for how well the EIS meets each goal, with brief reasons
presentations need not address the Specific criteria

as ther
e is insufficient

to do
However, the v
erbal presentations may refer to relevant Specific criteria to illustrate how
well (or not) the EIS meets the four broad goals

Students may work together for investigations and research for their

EIS review, but must
prepare and present their own individual verbal presentations, and write and submit their own
individual written reports. The presentation and the report must review the same EIS.

Verbal presentations (10% of unit assessment) occur
during weeks 12 and 13, with written
reports (25% of unit assessment) due at the end of week 13.

Marking criteria

EIS reviews (verbal and written) are assessed on their:

Quality, clarity, and logical structure

Quality and relevance of the review and
analysis of the EIS

Quality of the argument and evidence used in the analysis of the EIS

Quality and logic of the recommendations regarding the EIS in relation to the broad goals
of EISs (verbal presentation and written report) as well as specific criteria

(for written

A late penalty applies to reports of
20% per day late (not accepted after five days late
except in exceptional circumstances)

Verbal presentations are subject to peer assessment also.

Rationale for the EIS review as a unit assessmen
t activity

As discussed in Assessment 1, my unit is new in that I am treating it as a prototype unit by
developing a new, workplace applicable, contemporary issues
based curriculum. There is
great flexibility to use a design thinking process (e.g. IDEO LLC

2012) in designing the

Jasmyn Lynch

curriculum and assessment activities, but the capacity for design thinking is limited in relation
to some of the learning outcomes which relate to specific knowledge and understanding. In
regard to this, the assessment activity disc
ussed here is one such unit requirement, and has
been used by previous convenors of the unit. Nevertheless, it has been regarded as valuable
by past students and

thus been retained. Such feedback on unit design has been useful in
redeveloping the curriculu
m and will be encouraged in a class discussion towards the end of
semester aimed at
encouraging dialogue on
improving teaching of the unit (as per
Nicol &
Dick 2006)

The activity topic relates directly to one of the unit learning outcomes:
derstand strengths
and limitations of a range of environmental planning tools including environmental impact

(Appendix 3)

and therefore represents close alignment to the learning outcomes
(Boud & Falchikov 2006)
. The assessment activity requires

students to review an EIS by
assessing it against the
requirements for an EIS
derived from the
Protection Authority

and Major Developments Panel, South Australia (2004)

as well
as current local legislation (
Planning and
Development Act 2007

Planning and
Development Regulation 2008


2. Argument for the design

Environmental management is “wicked” in being complex, dynamic, a process, involving a
multitude of factors and interrelations, some of which manifest
on, diffuse or lag

effects, and in requiring contingent, unique solutions. EISs are

tool that is important for
environmental managers to understand
, and are a ‘real world’ problem that requires extension
of formal learning beyond the classroom,

ability to assess persuasiveness of conceptual
models, and ability to analyse unfamiliar issues and critically assess proposed problem
solutions (Ramsden 2003)

are however typically very long, complex documents
(running to hundreds of pages

and mult
iple appendices

so it is not possible for students to
create their own. A review of an existing EIS relevant to the local area
(or an area with which
the students have greater familiarity)
is therefore one means of introducing students to the
scope and pu

of EISs
, but within

context of a local, applied issue
Giving students
the choice of EIS to review provides them with

some control over the specific assessment
topic and


the use of their local knowledge

and experience

to enhance connectedness

the topic

all of
which encourage a deeper learning approach (Prosser & Trigwell 1999)

The focus on review of a professional document and management tool also enhances deeper
learning by involving students in a problem solvin
g process

skill in
problem solving and
critical thinking

being an essential requirement for effective management professionals

(Prosser & Trigwell 1999
; Ramsden 2003

By reviewing a particular EIS, the student will
need to understand its purpose and the
criteria for assessing whether a particular EIS achieves
this purpose. This encourages deeper learning by focusing on evaluation and argument based
on evidence, rather than relying on reproduction of material (Entwisle & Entwisle 2003).

also requires th
em to link the concepts encompassed within the EIS evaluation criteria to the
facts presented within the document, thereby deepening their learning approach (Ramsden
As the


have already reviewed a broader strategic environmental assessment
(i.e. one that covers multiple development aspects in contrast to the single development
project focus of an EIS) for the local area, they can utilise this prior knowledge
to enhance
and build their understanding (Entwisle & Entwisle 2003) of this more spe
cialised topic.

Another aspect that encourages a deeper approach to learning is the opportunity for students
to work together and
spontaneous collaborative learning (Prosser & Trigwell 1999).
Jasmyn Lynch

The assessment guidelines state that students may work
together for
investigations and
although the report and presentation must be their own work
. Collaborative learning
has been
facilitated in tutorials and workshops earlier in semester where students worked in
selected groups on the session t
opic, and in addition, some of the students with learning
difficulties (language or cultural) have been enabled to work with students with greater
understanding of the unit. The students thus have established relationships with other students
on which to d
raw for this assessment activity.

flexibility in topic


a context in which connectedness to the material is enhanced
and collaborative learning opportunities are provided
is expected to also enhance the students’
intrinsic interest

and effort

in the activity

(Prosser & Trigwell 1999).

In addition, control and
flexibility over the design of their verbal presentation affords them personal creativity and an
opportunity to engage visual material as well as more structured information. These aspect
reflect design thinking
(IDEO LLC 2012) by benefiting different learning and
knowledge styles, and allowing students to view (and assess) their peers’ evaluations and
alternative perspectives. They also enhance confidence in presenting informa
tion within a
‘safe’ environment as the students already know and have worked with some of their peers.

As the verbal presentation occurs prior to the written report submission, students have an
opportunity to learn from other perspectives, styles and kn
owledge in preparing their report,
which has a higher assessment weighting than the verbal presentations.

Students have already
received feedback on reviewing papers and workshops with a particular environmental
management theme, and been reminded of the u
nit assessment expectations
presented in the
unit outline and first lecture
that higher grades are allocated when students display deeper
understanding through critical thinking and the capacity to interpret literature and other
resources to show understan
ding of concepts, ideas and applications, and to draw on other
academic knowledge and experience.

These capacities, when aligned with disciplinary
knowledge, are part of a

and self
assessment of learning

style of value
beyond formal asses
sment and learning situations (Boud & Falchikov 2006).

Students are also involved in peer assessment of the verbal presentations which is designed to
increase their awareness of the EIS evaluation criteria and the process of assessing student
. This p
eer assessment is also aimed at


their intrinsic motivation by giving
them more control and enjoyment of the process
, which


of a deeper

is likely to result in higher
quality outcomes and grades

(Prosser & Trig
; Ramsden 2003
n addition,

the peer assessment aims to enhance their attendance,
attention and participation, and also
provides a moderating function to the lecturer’s

alternative opinions

increase assessment reliability and


more reflective students

and those who engage in the question session after each verbal
the peer assessment in conjunction with prior feedback

may also facilitate self
assessment of their own work, an important factor in self
regulated learning (Nicol &
Dick 2006).

Overall, this assessment activity enables the lecturer to ensure that the students have
addressed the learning expectati
on for the unit that students
strengths and
limitations of

environmental impact assessment

(as well as other management tools)

At a
minimum, students demonstrate awareness of the EIS evaluation criteria by allocating grades
E) to each

of the evaluation goals (+/

specific criteria in the written report). Deeper
understanding is demonstrated through the rigour of their reasoning for the grades and
provision of examples, while critical analysis is demonstrated through the clarity of thei
Jasmyn Lynch

arguments and evidence
, and their capacity to relate evidence to conclusions (Ramsden 2003)
Quality is also demonstrated through the professionalism of their report or presentation

capacity to engage with the audience
, and their capacity to utili
se relational knowledge
(Entwisle & Entwisle 2003)
from other undergraduate units or
by evaluating

EIS within a
broader context of other management tools
ed in the unit and
whether they are more
effective at meeting

the broad goals expected of a

Such knowledge and skills are
expected of professionals, and
similar capacity to relate to a topic is one means of
evaluating student understanding (Ramsden 2003).

3. Reflection

My experience as an undergraduate learner

was very different to modern approaches. It
primarily consisted of information presentation, most commonly with an expectation of rote
memorisation and repetition during exams. A high level of self
motivation and responsibility
in attendance, assessment a
nd learning was expected, with little apparent instruction on
assessment and learning expectations, or means of achieving a deeper learning approach

understanding. Indeed, I often perceived responses to queries on curriculum material and
requirements as

minimalist and superficial.

sequently, on immersion in academic teaching
(tutoring and lecturing), there
tended to be

minimal support to enhance teaching practice

achieve pedagogical understanding and improvement

I therefore am aware of
being involved in
a more aware, reflective and creative approach
when preparing my assessment activities. I have progressed from a focus on one or two
written reports, some applied material, and an exam
as a unit’s assessment items
to a more
reflective app
roach that evaluates the appropriateness of the learning outcomes in the context
of graduate requirements and increasingly questions the most effective learning contexts and
the place of assessment activities within that context.
I have increased the level

of formative
feedback to students as a means of encouraging attention to learning outcomes and
assessment criteria, although my reflection on student workload and learning development, as
well as my self
evaluation of the unit’s assessment activities, ind
icates that further curriculum
and assessment development is required.

It is challenging to engage simultaneously with all aspects of design thinking in preparing
curricula and assessment, as these unit

are prototypes in terms of identifying how to
oach these tasks while also framing the learning context, ideating on effective and
efficient components, and evolving in the context of
spontaneous and formalised feedback
from students, my peers and outside teaching experts. As an example, comment that o
ne of
my assessment activities actually

critical thinking rather than

it is leading me
to explore more deeply what critical thinking is, the terminology used to describe it, and how
to encourage it, rather than assuming that third year stu
dents already have this awareness


In this way, both the students and I are entwined in mutual learning.


Boud, D. & Falchikov, N. (2006) Aligning assessment with long

term learning. Assessment
& Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(4),

Entwistle, N. & Entwistle, D. (2003) Preparing for examinations: The interplay of
memorising and understanding, and the development of knowledge objects. Higher
Education Research & Development, 22(1), 19

Jasmyn Lynch

Environment Protection Authority (20
Review of the environmental impact assessment
procedures of the Northern Territory

Discussion Paper.

Environment Protection
Authority, Darwin, viewed 19 February 2012, http://www.epa.nt.gov.au/our


Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit
. Ideo LLC, Palo Alto, USA.

Major Developments Panel, South Australia (2004)
Guidelines for the preparation of an
Environmental Impact Statement for the Ceduna Keys Marina and Community Centre
. Major Developments Panel, Adelaide, viewed 19 February 2012,

Nicol, D.J. & Macfarlane

Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self

regulated learning:
a model and seven principles of good feedback pr
Studies in Higher Education
31(2), 199

Prosser, M. & Trigwell, K. (1999) Student approaches to learning (Ch. 5). In Understanding
learning and teaching : the experience in higher education (pp. 83
107). Open University

Ramsden, P. (200
3) Approaches to learning (Ch. 4).
Learning to teach in higher education

(2nd, pp. 39
61). London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Planning and Development Act 2007

(ACT), viewed 19 February 2012,

Planning and Development Regulation 2008

, viewed 19 February 2012,

Appendix 1

Broad goals


To provide a source of information from which interested individuals and groups can
gain an understanding of the proposal, the need for the proposal, the alternatives, the
environmental (including social and economic) factors which would be affected by the
proposal, the environmental (including social and economic) impacts that may occur
from the proposal and the measures to be taken to minimise or mitigate adverse impacts.


To provide a forum for public consultation and informed comment on the proposal.


To provide a framework within which decision
makers can consider the environmental
aspects of the proposal in parallel with social, economic, technical and other factors.


To f
acilitate environmentally sound proposals by minimising adverse effects and
maximising benefits to the environment

including through mitigating adverse impacts,
and on
going monitoring and management.

Specific criteria


Does the EIS comply with the re
quirements in the scoping document?


Is sufficient information provided for each major component of the EIS report (sufficient
for assessment and to adequately inform decision making, see criterion 8 below)?


Is the information in the EIS correct and

technically/scientifically sound?


Does the EIS identify the relevant environmental values, and does it identify the likely or
known impacts of the development on these environmental values? Does the EIS identify
social and economic benefits and/or im
pacts of the development?


Has the EIS taken account of public comments, particularly those of affected parties?


Does the EIS contain a complete and satisfactory statement of key findings; e.g.
significant impacts, proposed mitigation measures (e.g.

management, offsets) etc?

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Is the information in the EIS clear and understandable by decision makers and the public?


Does the EIS contain sufficient information for decision making? Does the EIS contain


Are there deficiencies i
n the EIS? Identify any deficiencies (provide examples, rather
than be exhaustive, if space is limited. If using examples, state this clearly.)


Does the EIS contain a clearly written non
technical summary, including a summary of

des for review of EIS


excellent (thoroughly and competently performed)


good (minor omissions and deficiencies)


satisfactory (some omissions and deficiencies)


poor (significant omissions and deficiencies)


very poor (fundamental flaws and



not applicable

Appendix 2

Layout of written EIS report

The layout of the EIS review report should be as follows:

Bold words indicate start new page.

Cover sheet

(as for all assignments)

Title of the report


Review of XX EIS (or EIA Rep
ort etc, if not called an EIS))

Your name (as the reviewer). Date of review.

The title of the report, your name and the date of your review can be on one page if you


you can have a specific Title page or not, as you

Name and date of EIS

(state whether revised EIS, draft EIS, final EIS or the name of the
EIA report if not called an EIS). This information can be on the same page as the title if
you wish. If you do this, use your judgement about repeating informati
on or not.

The proponent

The consultant(s) who prepared the EIS

The jurisdiction(s) and the consent authority/ies for the EIS


Executive Summary

of your report (300 words) covering the key elements of the review
and your recommendations for grades for the b
road goals.


Describe the proposed project/development

that the EIS is about


what it is, where it
is, what is the purpose of the project/development

start this on a new page with a
suitable heading such as "Description of project" or "Description of proposed

Broad goals


how well the EIS meet

broad goals (
1, 2, 3, 4


recommendations for the grade for how well the EIS meets each of the broad goals. This
is essentially what
s covered in your verbal presentation.

You should prepare this section as for the verbal presentation (but in writ
ing rather than
in ppt style)


review how well the EIS meets each of the goals and provide a
recommended grade for how well the EIS meets each of the goals (you may provide
Jasmyn Lynch

grades for the sub
goals under goal 1 or a grade for goal 1 overall).

You can

between the broad goals where appropriate (i

you can refer to material "under goal X
above or below") and/or cross
relate to the specific criteria where appropriate (i

can refer to material "under s
pecific criterion X below").

fic criteria


describe how well the EIS meet

each of the specific criteria, with a
grade for how well the EIS meets each criterion. You should give a reason/reasons for
assigning the grade. The reason may be quite brief for some of the criteria


response to "Does the EIS comply with the requirements in the scoping document" might
be "Yes, the requirements of the scoping document are laid out in section XX of the EIS,
and these requirements are dealt with in sections ZZ of the EIS" or "No, require
ment BB
of the scoping document is mentioned in the EIS, but no information is provided", etc.

You will need to provide fairly detailed responses

to other specific criteria


Specific criteria 4 and 8 (bearing in mind the word limit for the wh
ole report).You can
relate from specific criteria to material under the broad goals where appropriate (i

you can refer to materia
l "under broad goal X above").

You may add a
, if you wish, with a grading for the whole EIS

the EIS i
graded X overall because........


ou can add an Acknowledgements section, if relevant, to your report prior
to the Refere
nces and after the Conclusion.

You may need to, or wish to,

quote or draw on specific information

from the EIS in your
report, word for word. This is acceptable, providing you do not copy
extensive amounts

of the
EIS into your report, and providing you reference the EIS
(including the page number/s)
you quote
. Quoting material from the document be
ing reviewed

is common in review
documents. A common way of doing this in review documents is to put the material from the
EIS in a "box" and/or in 10 point type (or different font) in an indented paragraph and/or in
italicised words


All quotes from the EIS should be to provide evidence for your review of how well

the EIS
meets the broa
d goals and the specific criteria (or not), and for the grades you assign.

If you quote the EIS in your report, you should reference it at the end of your review


You may also wish to quote one or more documents (including scientific papers) other t
the EIS to support the statements in your review. You should quote and reference these
as previously advised
You are

not expect

to be familiar with all the literature
relevant to the EIS, but it would be wise to check for any major, releva
nt studies that the EIS
has not referenced or inc

Remember, you are reviewing how well, or not, the EIS provides information for decision
making about the proposed project or development. You can, and should, use your
professional/soon to be professi
onal judgement in preparing the EIS review report.

The new route of the expressway will require the removal of five hectares of yellow
box woodland. This will be offset with XX
(Hassalls 2012
, p. 43

Jasmyn Lynch

. Extract from unit outline for unit 6918/8639G Environmental Planning and

2a Unit description and learning outcomes

The unit provides an overview of Australian environments, and r
egulatory, assessment and
management approaches important to decision making for those environments. The unit
context is sustainable management of terrestrial and aquatic resources, biodiversity
conservation and cultural heritage management.

The unit has b
een developed from two premises. Firstly, environmental management requires
interdisciplinary approaches and capacity, the recognition of ecosystems and landscapes as
socioecological systems, an understanding of basic ecological knowledge and the scientifi
method, the capacity to explore and understand complex and ‘wicked’ problems, and skills in
developing and implementing adaptive management strategies. Secondly, there is growing
recognition that environmental science graduates are employed in a wide ran
ge of careers,
with some key nondiscipline specific skills being project management, interpersonal skills,
communication, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

This unit provides an overview of management approaches relevant to the Austra
environment within a framework of problem solving allied with adaptive management to help
students explore and think critically about resource condition and environmental management
needs in Australia.

Through the course, you will be required to criti
cally evaluate a wide range of environmental
information and use the analysis to make appropriate management decisions. Hence you may
find some parts of the course challenging but, having successfully completed it, you will have
the relevant knowledge and
experience to undertake a variety of jobs in the environmental
management field. The strategic problem solving and adaptive management approach has
been found to benefit former graduates in their professional roles. Environmental science
graduates are empl
oyed in academic positions and non
academic positions of the government,
profit and private sectors in roles such as conservation and biodiversity management,
environmental consultants, policy, legislation or enforcement officers, or on
ground managers

with one of the 56 Natural Resource Management Boards across Australia.

The unit provides a grounding in knowledge and skills for the second semester unit
Environmental Conflict and Management (6917), which utilises this problem solving and
adaptive manag
ement approach to explore the complexity and management requirements of
various environmental management issues.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the unit, it is expected that students will:

1. Understand and apply sustainability principles to
environmental management.

2. Explain appropriate resource management objectives and planning processes.

3. Be aware of property rights and market mechanisms relevant to managing natural

4. Understand strengths and limitations of a range of envir
onmental planning tools including

environmental impact assessment.