Why did you decide to study the MSc Educational Assessment course at Oxford University?
I have worked on assessment projects in my professional career for a number of years, and have relied on teaching myself about the topic of ‘assessment’. I wanted to bring structure and depth to my knowledge, work with people at a department that overlaps with my line of work, and prove my credentials in the world of assessment.
What is your full time job?
I am the Director for Global Assessments, responsible for finding and running large international education projects, often driven by assessment change and development.
What strategies do you use to balance your studies with your work and other commitments?
My employer has been supportive of me taking time to attend teaching weeks and treating these as professional development time, rather than annual holiday. Keeping track of deadlines is important and carving out time with the family’s help has been essential.
How does the programme support and engage you as a distance learning student?
I am lucky enough to live close to Oxford, although much of my access into the department and the library facilities has been from home. That access could actually have happened from anywhere in the world and the library staff do an amazing job of helping to provide scans and material when they are not readily available online.
What do you particularly like about the course?
This course is run by staff who are world renowned, working at (probably) the best university in the world. This offers a chance for unique learning leading to a premium qualification and academic endorsement. The material in the course brings back together many strands that I had a cursory understanding of and the teaching weeks put me in contact with fellow students who had their own experience to share.
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
The teaching content is completely up to date as the teaching staff are working on the most innovative research in their field, and are able to bring their latest insights into the course modules. Getting to know the staff and having them as contacts into the future will be incredibly helpful.
What’s the community (students & staff) like at the department?
Many of the lunch and coffee breaks are taken in the department and this is a time to get to know fellow students and the teaching staff on a more informal basis. The department has a welcoming buzz to it – students and staff always coming and going, international visitors dropping in and easy to access seminars regularly being delivered. The admin team for the course are incredibly diligent and very responsive, resolving questions quickly. In short, friendly and welcoming.
How has your College added to your experience at Oxford?
Attachment to a college is part of the uniqueness that is the ‘Oxford University Experience’. It gives me an identity and the knowledge that I have somewhere that I can legitimately go to if I want to sit quietly and work. As a part-time student, there is less opportunity to engage fully with college life, but it is simply fun to know that it is there.
How has studying the course helped with your professional development?
My dissertation is completely linked to work that my company is undertaking, so while I am learning I am also helping my colleagues. The endorsement that attending an Oxford course gives has been very convincing to my employer about my knowledge and ability in the field of assessment.
What advice would you give to new students who are about to start the course?
Make the most of everything around you. You will come to one of the world’s most historic cities, attend the world’s best university, be taught by world-leading researchers, work with fellow students who will be work colleagues sometime in your future, and you will have access to a library service second to none – did I mention how amazing the library is?