University College for Interdisciplinary Learning

The assessment process

UCIL's remit is to contribute to the University's strategic vision of a broad-based curriculum allowing all undergraduate students to develop non-discipline specific skills. As such, designing and assessing courses delivered by UCIL provides a number of specific but rewarding challenges.

Course design challenges

At the heart of UCIL lies a commitment to providing a space for students from all Faculties in the University to broaden their intellectual and cultural interests beyond the specificities of their degree programme; to enhance opportunities for their preparation for professional and vocational work; to offer opportunities for questioning and challenging their personal values and ethical judgements; as well as to prepare them for citizenship and leadership in a global environment. These commitments and values of the purposes of a Manchester undergraduate education are expressed by the Manchester Matrix. As such, we expect that UCIL course units will include elements of:

  • Delivery of the intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of the Manchester Matrix;
  • Inter, cross or multi-disciplinarity;
  • Innovative teaching, learning and assessment;
  • Enriched delivery of employability and transferable skills.

Assessment challenges

We are familiar with designing assessments within our disciplines that cater for our cohort of students. Indeed, discipline conventions and values are often highlighted through our assessment criteria. For some disciplines there is little or no room for interpretation and students are trained to provide correct answers. In other disciplines, learning hinges on developing new insights into existing interpretations of phenomena. When designing a course for UCIL differences of disciplinary norms across Faculties present very real but fascinating pedagogic challenges.

In an interdisciplinary context then, the assessment of the degree to which students have achieved a course's intended learning outcomes, including the attainment of employability and transferable skills, requires some deliberation. In particular, further attention can be paid to students' ability to drawn connections across different disciplines, between different parts of the course and their ability to synthesise and analyze those connections. Indeed, it has been argued that…

…what sets an interdisciplinary program apart from other programs is often an emphasis on integration. Field et al 1994

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