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Students as Partners in Learning: Gateway to Online Assessment in Trinity.

Funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Trinity’s 2019-24 Strategic Plan commits to embedding the undergraduate education reform that was a central goal of the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. A key feature of this reform is the examination and renewal of teaching and learning practices, with an emphasis on students as active participants in their learning.

In light of the recent disruptions to face-to-face assessment, a new focus on online assessment practices is necessary in higher education.  Online assessments require students to apply different skills than they would in traditional assessment contexts. Online assessment can also lead assessors to rethink how and why they assess. This T & L initiative proposes developing an online programme and accompanying resources. ‘Gateway to Assessment’ is designed to develop assessment literacy in both staff and students with a focus on assessment in online environments.

Through this initiative assessors will be able to consider a range of assessment options for use online. They will explore how end-of-semester and modular assessments can be adapted effectively for the online context.  Students will be introduced to this range of online assessments with the aim of enhancing their assessment literacy and becoming partners in the assessment process.

Previous National Forum funded projects

2019-20 - Programme Focused Assessment - Digital Badges

TCD and UCD teamed up in partnership with the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education to facilitate the PD Short Course for Programme-Focussed Assessment in a fully online format in Spring of 2019, claimed by a Digital Badge. This short course was developed by TCD and UCD as part of the Forum’s PD short courses initiative. The course ran for 6 weeks from February 11th 2020 and provided participants with a strong introduction to Programme-Focussed approaches to Assessment and enabled them to identify appropriate assessment design interventions for subjects/programmes and to envisage how they might lead change with respect to programme level approaches to assessment. The short course involved approximately 25 hours over the 6 week period, with a 5 hour add-on later in the course for those interested in becoming future facilitators of the short course themselves.

This free iteration of the short course was particularly aimed at individuals or groups of individuals who were interested in rolling out the PFA short course themselves as a facilitator at a later date (e.g. for staff in their institution). For more information on the Short Course more generally and how facilitators can implement it themselves, visit the webpage


Implementation of Programme-Focussed approaches to assessment cultivates student-centered learning by attending to integration, timing, load and range of assessments, clarifying the interconnectedness of modules and viewing assessment as a linked series of learning opportunities across the whole programme.  It provides an opportunity to assure that assessment across a programme is ‘fit for purpose’ in relation to the subject/programme outcomes, while also ‘future-proofing’ your teaching. As our learning environments become increasingly diverse, our practices must also adapt to reflect the changing landscape of higher education.  The PFA short course draws on evidenced-based national and international practice to support programme-focussed ‘evidence gathering’, design interventions and leadership in this challenging field.

Participants will be allocated to groups of three to form a ‘peer-learning triad’.  Triads will be given time/opportunity to ‘breakout’ during all webinars- in order to maximise opportunity for peer learning and to progress activities related to the award of the badge(s). Triads are likely to also interact online, e.g. on their forums or using online meeting rooms, at mutually agreed times between webinars.  Triad members will determine whether or not badges are ‘awarded’ to members within their own triad.
This PD short course will give you an introduction to the concept of programme-focussed approaches to assessment and invite you to review and update your own teaching and learning practice.


  1. Discuss and investigate Programme-Focussed Assessment practices in a subject/ programme.
  2. Debate different approaches to ‘knowing what’s going on in your programme’, such as assessment mapping, team dialogue, other evidence gathering tools
  3. Identify appropriate assessment design interventions for subject/ programme.
  4. Explore leadership of change in Programme Focussed Assessment

2016/17 - Alignment and Development of an Online Programme for Graduate Teaching Assistants

The Online Programme for Graduate Teaching Assistants was funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.  The project was a collaborative project between Trinity College (TCD), National University of Galway (NUIG), the Institution of Design and Technology (IADT), and the Marino Institute of Education (MIE).

The aim of the project was to create a 5 ECTs online programme that aligns to the framework domains, and included research-informed multimedia content, formative assessment, peer interaction activities and links to resources.   The programme may be used by any institution independently in their VLE as 1) a 5 ECTs online professional qualification in teaching & learning for TAs (accreditation according to each Institution’s procedures), 2) a blended programme consisting of 5 discrete areas of professional development, with accompanying workshop packages to include templates, and multimedia content.

The proposed structure offers flexibility in delivery and be can thus supplement or extend existing programmes, be delivered as blended, or each component can be offered individually to earn a badge.

2015/16 - Digital Skills in Action

Digital Skills in Action was a Teaching Enhancement Fund Project in 2015 developed by Leinster Pillar 1 Cluster with Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT) as the lead and Trinity College, Marino Institute of Education, National College of Art and Design and University College Dublin as partners. This was the first teaching and learning project for the cluster.

The project used the All Aboard Digital Skills framework for higher education as a starting point, identified one or more case studies within each institution and using the All Aboard framework developed the case studies. The project ran its Technology Enhanced Learning Week from 8-15 March 2016 with each institution taking one day to showcase the case studies as they had developed to that date. Work continued the case studies following the TEL week and materials developed or are in the process of being developed.