Over the last two-and-a-half years, I have been the lead editor for Oxford’s The Complete Companions for AQA Psychology Kerboodle. As we launch the remaining resources for the Year 2 options this month, I thought now would be a fitting time to share three particular things we’ve learned.
- Trialling with teachers is the way forward
Back in the spring of 2014, when spec change was but a distant speck on the horizon (pun not intended), we began to consider our digital plans. We got excited discussing the possibilities, before quickly getting overwhelmed by how many there were! Our key question became: What resources are going to be most helpful at this crucial time of change?
Meeting together with psychology authors, we hatched an ambitious plan to trial a diverse bank of digital resources in schools for an entire term, gathering anecdotal feedback from teachers and students about what worked well and what didn’t. And that’s what we did: in September 2014, we gave 28 volunteer schools access to a whole range of resources to support the Memory topic, and set them loose!
I immensely enjoyed reading the feedback as it arrived each week – much of it positive, some of it humorously less so! – but most of all we gradually built up a picture of what would work and what wouldn’t; what was essential and what was nice to have. In the years since, we’ve drawn on those early insights to ensure that each resource well and truly earns its place in Kerboodle. I can’t overstate how valuable an experience that was, and how grateful we are to those schools who played such a vital role in the development of our publishing!
- Flexible resources eat prescriptive resources for breakfast
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of our findings was that – with a few exceptions – flexible resources that are created for use in a variety of contexts are the most used and valued. Here is a snapshot of how we’ve applied this principle to our resources on Kerboodle.
Rather than a traditional ‘lesson PowerPoint’, we’ve produced a ‘Resource Planner’ for every topic. Intended to be flexible tools for planning, resource planners are essentially one screen from which all relevant resources for that topic can be launched. A ‘notes’ tab also contains lesson suggestions, activity answers, and differentiation guidance written by an experienced Head of Psychology.
Organised by topic, our ‘resources’ include editable handouts, interactive activities, animations, and videos. A teacher might print out handouts for students, and show the other resources front-of-class on a whiteboard, but as students have their own personal logins to Kerboodle, all resources can also be used independently, as homework or flipped learning, and they’ve been written so that they can work in any context.
The full range of assessments in the Assessment tab are only visible to teachers, who can choose to ‘assign’ assessments to students. Also in this tab are a variety of support materials including mark schemes and self-assessment sheets. One flexible assessment, aimed at supporting students with long-answer exam questions, is called ‘On your marks’ and is split into three ‘parts’ which can be organised in whatever way best suits the approach of the teacher.
The ‘exception’ to the flexibility rule I mentioned earlier is in relation to ‘auto-marked tests’ – the trial schools loved being able to assign a knowledge test to students for homework and instantly view their results in the online Markbook. One of the best examples is our multiple-choice exam question tests, which – upon completion – give students answer-by-answer feedback and guidance.
- An online platform is a gift in a time of spec change
Whenever a new specification is developed, there is an element of flux until those first exam papers arrive. Already, we’ve been able to mark changes to our published resources –and the beauty of an online platform is that we can continue to respond to any changes that arise, most importantly those changes from the exam board that are unforeseen and impact exam preparation.
We’d love to hear from you
Even though the course is now covered on Kerboodle, we continue to plan updates – for instance, more handouts and exam answers will be coming in the Autumn. Our updates are in direct response to what we’re hearing from teachers, and I’d like to take this opportunity to invite teachers to get in touch if you have any ideas or feedback about resources for Kerboodle.
Lois Fulton is a Senior Development Editor at Oxford University Press.