Thursday, 22 October 2009

Aspect report for Computing

I took time out this morning to go through the HMIe's report [PDF] into Computing in the college sector. It made interesting reading.

It's hard not to read a report like this from an individual perspective and, from an SQA angle, the report made pretty good reading. There were some kind words about the portfolio of Computing awards available to centres, and specifically the variety of awards and how up-to-date they are. It was nice to see this recognised since it represents a lot of hard work over a lot of years. There was also mention made of the efforts SQA is currently making, along with college representatives, to address some of the identified problems, such as assessment overload.

Of course, the report contains a great deal about teaching and learning, but there were many references to assessment that SQA needs to consider, including assessment load (still a problem), integration of assessment (linked to assessment burden), and formative assessment.

Formative assessment is particularly interesting. The report stated that it was little used and, when it was, it wasn't used very effectively. I think this is an area that SQA could work with centres to improve practice.

I'd be interested in your comments about the report.


  1. I agree with your comments Bobby. I was surprised, though, that the high number of level 8 units in the HNDs was not mentioned (as far as I can recall).

  2. No, Ron, I don't think that was mentioned in the report. I'm not sure how Computing compares with other subjects in this regard. The review of HNC/D Computing kicks-off next year (yes, it's five years old already) and that will give us an opportunity to get into line with other areas (if we are out of line).

  3. When we review HNC/D Computing we will also look at the exam component in the HNC part of the programme. Some people like this (arguing that it maintains quality) and some people don't (arguing that it reduces the success rate for the award). The balance of Level 7 and Level 8 units would also be looked at.

    I hope to organise one or two workshops on assessment, where we can look at summative and formative assessment in the Computing area.

  4. I look forward to the review of HNC/D Computing. I guess one of the things to be considered is whether we still need an HND Technical Support and an HND Networking since they cover similar ground. I would be interested in people's thoughts on this.

  5. Ron is correct about the high number of L8s in our HND programmes. I also think it's time that computing as a discipline (as opposed to IT) was given more recognition (by HMIe and College SMTs) that it's a conceptually difficult and ever changing area of study. To expect our student outcome performance to be in line with that of beauty, hair, drama et al is laughable inho. Yes we'll all attempt to improve, as we want the best possible results for our students, but some people need to take a reality check here. Computing students will mostly always find it more difficult to gain the HMIe target SOs of 75%+.
    As for Teaching and Learning, in some other areas this can be honed and improved more easily as things change and develop at a slower pace. When our guys and gals upgrade a unit from VB to C# or Java when they move from trad SSADM to OOD or learn bitmap and vector with little time given, is it any wonder that the teaching and learning delivery may be not as slick as in some other areas, although, in many classes, just as efective.