Expo Assessment Takes Off

This year in Medieval Europe, one of the first year history units I coordinate, my tutors and I trialled a new assessment strategy, which seems to have paid huge dividends in student (and staff!) engagement. We called this “the Medieval Expo”. Rather than sitting a final essay-format exam, students worked in teams throughout semester on their choice of a video, podcast, or poster, with the aim of educating a general audience about the medieval past. All the presentations went on display in a special “expo” event in the last week of semester, where everyone could visit and reflect on each other’s work. Students were graded on the group display as well as on a portfolio reflecting their personal contribution to the task. Early feedback shows that this was a great success, both in encouraging students to reflect on their own preconceptions, and in forcing them to think about the contrast between academic and public modes of communicating historically. The first indications of engagement, however, were purely material – in every sense! Students and staff (including yours truly) came in costume to celebrate the unit, and create a festive atmosphere for the Expo event. We plan to write up the experience as a pedagogical article in the next few months, where, with luck, you will be able to read about our intent, design, and implementation in more detail.

Ingeborg of Denmark (aka Kathleen Neal) consults a student video on medieval conflict.
Ingeborg of Denmark (aka Kathleen Neal) consults a student video on medieval conflict.