Long train journeys alone are good for blog entries (if for little else). I’m now on my way back from acting as external examiner on the undergraduate programme associated with a ministerial training scheme (Anglican/Methodist/URC). My first time as an external examiner, and I’ve enjoyed the experience greatly. An external examiner’s free to think about the interesting aspects of an assessment process (what kinds of assignment work best for what kinds of course? what feedback is most useful? how do we ensure that we are being fair?) because someone else has already done the hard slog.

I felt particularly privileged to be involved in a process of assessment that’s also about formation and training for ministry (see previous blog entries for yes-I-know that’s a weird thing for a Quaker to say). The comments on the assessed work, besides being “summative” (this is what you’ve done) are consciously and caringly “formative” (I know that what you have learned here will go on mattering to you, here is what you might want to do with it in future…). A large part of me would like to find a way to bring an element of that formative concern, and that acknowledgement of the interaction between our studies and Real Life, into the teaching and assessment I do. It makes me realise how impoverished “transferable skills” (about which I am happy to talk, happier than many of my colleagues) is as a way of thinking about


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