NOS benchmarks meet the modular system

Juliet Henderson

Take one module: U75138, Persuasive Communication, stage 2. This is a core compulsory for Communication, Media and Culture undergraduates. It asks the question: what are the strategies and techniques that allow us to communicate our knowledge of the world, and of ourselves, to a variety of public and professional global audiences? A module tailor-made therefore for inclusion of NOS benchmarks aimed at developing intercultural competence.

The experiment is intended to test whether the dependent variable of student intercultural understanding and competence changes when the independent variables, learning outcomes and related assessment tasks are rewritten to include NOS benchmarks.

Parts of the experiment

  1. Rewrite Module Learning Outcomes Knowledge and Understanding, Professional Skills, Transferable Skills) to include some NOS benchmarks.
  2. Use these to design assessment tasks, including grading criteria
  3. Ask students to critically reflect upon the part the assessment played in developing their intercultural competence
  4. Use the evidence of this critical reflection, the texts produced for assessment and student voice data to draw conclusions as to the part the independent variables played in producing the desired effect

Note: NOS benchmarks included in the module learning outcomes below are included using track changes. Many of the existing learning outcomes are already structured to include an awareness of different audiences’ beliefs and values, so few changes are necessary.

Knowledge and understanding

  1. recognise and evaluate written documents fit for a specific purpose
  2. demonstrate an ability to write for a chosen audience an audience with cultural conventions, beliefs and values different to those of your own culture
  3. understand and synthesise a range of rhetorical, narrative and lexical devices in their written work
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which specific media and their attendant technologies make possible different forms of communication

Professional skills

  1. analyse written documents
  2. produce documents a CV which persuades/or communicates your intercultural competence effectively
  3. demonstrate the ability to synthesise information and communicate to a particular viewpoint an audience with a different perspective to your own, showing sensitivity to their viewpoint
  4. produce material which demonstrates the effective manipulation of sound, image and written word

Transferable skills

  1. an ability to find and organise information
  2. an ability to persuade rationally
  3. an ability to use appropriate language when writing and speaking
  4. an ability to present different ideas to different audiences using appropriate language audiences with a different first language and culture to you using appropriate style, format and medium

Note: Changes to existing assessment tasks are indicated with track changes.

Learning outcomes

KU. ii, iii PS. iii, iv TS. i, ii, iv

A political brief persuading to consensus and arguing why a certain situation should prevail. Choose a local issue you feel strongly about that relates to globalisation eg Brookes buses, parking in Oxford compulsory foreign languages for all students at Brookes, multicultural group assessments, a playground for local, immigrant children, a shared UK and international student language lesson exchange system etc. or global issue (an option essentially for international students) and, using the principles of visual and written rhetoric, present a mixed-media leaflet on the topic using 6 sides of folded A4 paper. It needs to be accessible to readers whose first language is not English (unless you are an international student).

Criteria for assessment

This entry will be judged on your ability to effectively combine image and word to produce an effective, well-crafted persuasive document that draws on a range of rhetorical devices; your ability to communicate a particular viewpoint effectively using a given format and genre; your ability to write for an audience with a language and cultural values different to your own public audience

Parts c) and d) of the experiment have yet to be conducted. If the module still exists in the new structure for LSHD next year, I shall complete the two final parts of the experiment and use the results to draw conclusions. However, I am fairly confident, that with appropriate pedagogical support and content the assessment tasks generated from NOS learning outcomes would raise awareness about and develop intercultural studying and learning.