Our Assessment Innovation Fund Pilots | NCFE

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Our Assessment Innovation Fund

Shaping the future of learning and assessment

We’re on a mission to break boundaries in assessment with an investment fund to support and pilot new ideas on the future of assessment. Having launched our Assessment Innovation Fund in 2021, we’re now starting to pilot the first successful projects.

Who we’re working with…

The University of Newcastle (Australia), The Sheffield College and The Really NEET Project are all successful applicants from window 1 of the Assessment Innovation Fund. We’ve awarded them with funding to support their exciting pilot projects that we’re excited to be a part of.

The University of Newcastle, Australia

The University of Newcastle, Australia is a world-class university with a strong focus on student experience, excellence in teaching, and research. The university is ranked in the top 200 of the world’s universities.

Dedicated to the core values of equity, excellence, engagement and sustainability, the University of Newcastle is a globally recognised education institution committed to solving the world's greatest problems.

About the pilot

The University of Newcastle, Australia pilot will test the process of moving from a grade-based system (for example 80% / High Distinction) to digital badges in courses. The university was awarded funds to develop its pilot over a 12-month period, involving over 1,000 learners, with many more lined up for future phases. Having started research in November 2021, the team is evaluating its approach, and measuring any impacts on systems, policies, processes, staff, and students.

The Sheffield College

The Sheffield College is a general further education college in the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, providing high-quality academic, technical and vocational training to enhance qualifications, skills and employability across the region.

Adopting a “one college approach”, it operates from a number of sites across the city.

About the pilot

The Sheffield College’s pilot will test the effects of how virtual reality (VR) can be used effectively in summative and formative assessment. The college was awarded the money to support its research on assessment, which will focus on catering, animal care and construction initially. Their aim is to build experiences that enable learners to go into a fully immersive VR setting and practise their skills. This will give learners more practice time when the physical spaces for work experience are limited and increase learners’ opportunities to work with teachers and get constructive feedback.

The Really Neet Project

The Really NEET Project was founded to meet the unique needs of NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) young people (aged 16-25) to learn in a supportive and specially tailored environment. They hope to empower positive change in young people by giving them the tools to create stability and security in their lives that will enable them to achieve their future goals and become contributing members of wider society.

About the pilot

The Really NEET Project, based in Rotherham, is running a pilot that will test the effects of immersive and interactive story-based assessments. They aim to change perceptions by using modern technology to engage learners in a more personalised assessment. Awarded budget to support the technology development, the Really NEET Project will run the pilot with 90 students over two years and aims to engage individuals who don’t respond to mainstream education and assessment. They’ll use themed assessments to gather the necessary data to demonstrate demand and fulfil the necessary regulations.

Bolton CollegeBolton College's logo

Bolton College is one of the North West's largest providers of vocational training and further education. The college enables individuals, businesses and communities within Bolton and surrounding areas to reach their potential. They provide courses for a wide range of people of all different ages and are proud to be able to offer hundreds of courses to suit everyone.

About the pilot

A 15-month pilot will test the efficacy and impact of their FirstPass platform. FirstPass is an online platform that has been developed by Bolton College to support learners and teachers with the formative assessment of open-ended questions. Using FirstPass, learners can respond to open-ended questions using free-form text which can be a single sentence, or many pages in length. FirstPass offers real-time feedback to learners as they compose their answers; allowing them to reflect and improve upon their answers before submitting them to their teachers for final review and commentary. Teachers across all six institutions will use FirstPass to set and mark formative assessments and check understanding and knowledge retention.

Interested in applying?

Find out more about upcoming application phases and how to apply.

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