Assessing for sustainability: Reflective and peer learning assessments as a means of promoting student engagement

Thumbnail Image
Byrne, Edmond P.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This paper considers a number of assessment approaches aimed at promoting learner engagement among engineering students on a bespoke sustainability module. Traditional assessment of university engineering courses typically involve closed book examinations, supplemented by participatory laboratories and associated reports. This approach is largely unfit-for-purpose for courses which seek to actively engage students to develop their reflective and critical thinking skills, as well as draw on their prior and experiential learning and knowledge. The module in question is a course on ‘Sustainability and Environmental Protection’, taken by third year engineers and some graduate students on a Higher Diploma programme with various disciplinary backgrounds, at University College Cork. It seeks to facilitate student engagement and reflection by examining concepts, models and values around sustainability and sustainable development; relationships between socio-cultural and techno-economic complex systems; interconnection, problem framing, integrative thinking and transdisciplinarity, drivers of (un)sustainable behaviour and practices, and the role of ethics, values and worldviews. Various assessment modes are chosen to support this learning and associated learning outcomes around developing critical reflective analysis, empathetic, integrative and complex systems thinking. These include a critical book review, peer engagement in critiquing an academic article, and a group presentation. The paper will present some reflections from both students and staff on the value of these modes as learning tools.
Sustainability competences , Transferable skills , Transferable skills , Open-ended activities , Graduate attributes
Byrne, E. P. (2023) 'Assessing for Sustainability; reflective and peer learning assessments as a means of promoting student engagement', 11th Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Conference (EESD2023), Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, 18-21 June.
Link to publisher’s version
© 2023