Transparency and Expectations for Students
Dr. William Bridel is a professor at the University of Calgary in the Faculty of Kinesiology. He teaches KNES 244 and 344, required courses for kinesiology students that focus on the socio-cultural aspects of sport including gender, sexuality, social norms and traditions. Both of these courses are challenging but engaging for students, as they often have not given the ideas in the course any critical thought before, but all have some relationship to them. Many of the assessments for both courses are project-based, and really allow the students to engage with the material.
In KNES 244: Introduction to Socio-Cultural Aspects of Sport, one of the biggest assessments is a group project. Students have to develop an educational text, such as a poster, pamphlet, PowerPoint presentation, or social media campaign based on the course content. They have to present their analysis in such a way that it is accessible for people who have not taken the course. Students tend to come up with good ideas for their projects quite easily. Their work is creative and of a high quality. One challenge they face is refining their ideas into smaller and more concentrated topics. Dr. Bridel often has to help them with this process. For example, students may want to discuss gender in sport, but that is such a broad topic that they would not have a detailed analysis. This project could be specified to discuss how coaches can support transgender athletes.
The content and discussion extends into KNES 344: Gender, Sexuality and Sport. In this course, topics that were introduced in the previous course are explored in greater detail. In previous iterations of the course, Dr. Bridel had similar assessment methods to KNES 244, including the educational text project. Although students were expected to explore their chosen topics in greater detail, it was easy for many of them to use their same projects with a small amount of extra work added. Dr. Bridel felt that this was not a valuable learning exercise if students were just handing in an old project. He will be switching the group project to a critical paper in the next offering of the course.
Dr. Bridel does not use the word “rubric” to describe the marking sheet he uses in for the projects in his courses. He prefers the term “criteria” because it is less structured and allows for more creativity and different forms of expression. He notes that it is important to be consistent and fair with students, even when they are using vastly different mediums for their projects. His criteria is given to students at the beginning of the course. It focuses heavily on the content of the project. He cares more about what is being said than how it is being conveyed. Some marks are given for the originality of the project, but there is still a lot of freedom for students within that. Dr. Bridel hopes his students feel guided, not limited, by his grading criteria.
Students really enjoy both KNES 244 and 344. Dr. Bridel’s assessment methods allow them to really engage with the content and explore it beyond their personal experiences. He is excited to see how students react to the change in projects in KNES 344, and hopes to make it an even better learning opportunity for his students, particularly those who do the courses in consecutive semesters.
Dr. Bridel says that his main assessment philosophy is to make sure criteria is clear and content focused. He wants the assessments to help students become successful and aide in their learning. He aspires to continue to use assessment to promote student learning in his courses.