As LSE moves towards the implementation of its new academic year structure from 2015/16, and departments are considering how they might best use the additional weeks available in Michaelmas and Lent terms, we thought it would be useful to share some ideas. It is likely that different terms, courses and levels will prompt different ideas - a Lent Term week, for instance, might usefully have an ‘assessment preparation’ element while a Michaelmas Term week could focus more on coursework completion and research projects - but all of these are intended to be flexible starting points, all of them adaptable to different disciplines and all designed to support the overarching purpose of developing student learning.
Marking week. One option is to set coursework deadlines for the Friday of Week 5 and use the extra week (Week 6) for marking. This would ensure timely return of work and more time to focus on written feedback comments, and/or face to face feedback to take place either at the end of the extra week or in Week 7 office hours.
Coursework week. The extra week could also be a time when students complete coursework assignments. This could involve simply moving the deadline for existing coursework to the Monday of Week 7. However, the extra week could be used to introduce more creative forms of assessment, for instance:
- Group task: Students could be grouped and asked to complete a collaborative task. This might relate to the coming weeks of the course, or be an application of the input so far, such as through a case study task applying a theoretical lens to a given situation.
- Jigsaw task: Students could work on overlapping tasks, the cumulative results of which could be combined to map an area of study or an overview of a reading list.
- Research task: Students could complete a short study (individually or in groups). This might best be a directed task, for instance documentary analysis, a web-based search or analysis conducted with a given dataset. Alternatively, students could design a research study in the extra Michaelmas Term week and conduct the investigation in the extra Lent Term week, with a write up to follow during Easter.
- Guidance on academic study: Events or resources could be used to guide students on how to research topic areas, search and read academic literature or complete coursework tasks.