Evaluation and Effective Learning prior intentions and expectations the students had with regard to the subject and the active practical work. The purpose of the final survey was to ascertain whether the level of interest in the subject had been maintained until it had been completed, whether students considered it important for their education, the degree of difficulty of the subject, the suitability of the bibliography, the students’ willingness to take part in further innovative teaching experiences, and a series of assessments of their collaborative work and its possibilities. Apart from the questions, the students were given the opportunity to indicate those aspects that could be improved upon in the future. The main observations were: there should be more practical groupwork, debates and greater opportunities to express opinions, though they are conscious of the difficulties they have in participating more in class (particularly orally); the practical work should be more closely linked to real-life situations and more up-to-date. They also suggested commenting on newspaper articles in class; better assessment of the work done, since it requires a great effort on their part, and better organization to reduce class sizes, and so forth. The results of this assessment were very satisfactory and that is the reason why the experiment has continued over several successive academic years (Hernández Nanclares 2004; 2006). the PortFoLIo As A strAtegIc Instrument oF Assessment The question under consideration at this point in the development of the innovation is whether the system described here is being used strategically, in other words, whether it is encouraging significant and deep learning in my students. As has been discussed throughout the section, there is a margin to allow the assessment to be oriented towards the kind of work done by the students and the way in which they tackle the tasks. To this end, the way to gain greater insight into this experience is to ask oneself whether this objective is really being achieved: is the right kind of learning being stimulated? If not, what kind of learning is being stimulated? How should the assessment be modified to achieve the desired results? (Gibbs & Simpson, 2003). A first approximation to help answer these questions is to analyse whether the activities and products which make up the “International Economic Relations” portfolio, in its present form, fulfil the conditions indicated by Gibbs et al. (2003) and presented in Table 1. So, in this section, a reflection over the strategic elements of the electronic portfolio of the IER subject is done and summarized in Table 2. Quantity and distribution of student effort The first condition is related to the amount and distribution of the students’ effort. To ensure that they dedicate sufficient time to the subject, we developed a series of tasks to be spread out over the term. In the first place, they were asked to prepare reports on the international monetary system over a period of twelve weeks. This is a group project, but each member of the group is responsible for one particular report. One hour of class time per week, the hour designated “practical work,” is entirely devoted to the development and completion of this work. To prevent the students from concentrating all their effort at the end, just before the date for handing in the work and starting the Christmas holidays, we suggested to them a work plan with a detailed schedule fixing a series of tasks and convenient time periods for completing them. Each week the groups check to see how the work is progressing. Group meetings have been arranged for the end of November. In them, each student has to present to the group and to the teacher the scheme, the central ideas and the planning of the report before dedicating the last part of the time to writing it.
Evaluation and Effective Learning Secondly, apart from this “medium-term” work, “short-term” tasks are decided upon. These are associated with the different topics being dealt with in class and add extra value to the portfolio. They are activities that have to be handed in within a short period and normally involve completing classwork or a short check of knowledge acquired. Some of them are voluntary, so excessive pressure is not put on the students. In general, they are the responsibility of the whole group but, in some cases, such as the knowledge test, they are carried out by the individual, though the average mark of the group is entered in the portfolio. Thirdly, a “long-term” task, presented at the start of the year but not carried out until January, has also been conceived. It involves preparing and taking part in a debate on globalization. With this organization of tasks we believe that the students’ work effort and time will be divided up evenly throughout the term and among the contents. Quality and Level of Student Effort The second condition refers to the quality of effort made by the students. To ensure that their learning is of a suitable nature (significant, active, and collaborative), the activities have been devised in a way that means students will become involved in mental processes of a high cognitive level, with increasing degrees of difficulty. As an example, the reports must be produced within clearly set limits, with a well-defined analysis perspective. The key concepts to be covered are specified and the space is limited to three or four sheets so they have to concentrate in real relevant aspects of the topic. A very important role is played in this point by the way instructions are given. They are written, very clear from the start, and with indications as to how the elements have to be assesed. Moreover, the specific assessment criteria that will be taken into consideration during the correction work are at the students’ disposal. As already mentioned, the “short-term” tasks are related to the day-to-day dynamics of the class. The basic structure followed in the class is to provide the students with materials that have to be processed inside and outside the class, consider question clusters and discuss the materials, work in a small group and present the results in a large one. Within this basic organization, the function of the teacher is to coordinate participations in class combined with some lectures. The bulk of the work here consists in preparing materials, producing the question clusters, and presenting the topic in a way that will prove to be of interest and will make the students want to know more about it, thus motivating them to prepare the materials and consult the bibliography. This kind of work allows the students to investigate their previous concepts about a particular question, share them with their group and from there, through discussion and participation, acquire new knowledge that permits them to advance. It also forces them to develop new abilities and skills related to communication, teamwork, and comprehension and analysis. The tasks then allow them to complete the process and present it in the form of a product. They have therefore been asked to produce a concept map on globalization, present written answers to the question clusters of the material relating to international capital markets, answer a short test on the basic theory of exchange rates and produce another concept map on the reform of the International Monetary Fund. We believe the tasks to be sufficiently demanding and challenging to involve the students in productive learning activities. The fact that they are performed in a work group means that the knowledge acquired is much richer, the levels of difficulty of the tasks increasing as the groups develop their own dynamics and become more consolidated. the role of correction and Feedback The rest of the conditions refer to feedback. On the one hand, the quantity and quality of corrections and the opportunity the teacher has of