Assessment tools

My teaching has a strong component of experimental learning through hands-on experiences via outdoor classrooms, either in the field or in research vessels. This includes site visits, field-trips to local beaches and to Galway Bay. Therefore flexibility is provided to the students in order for them to have meaningful experiences that will improve their learning.

Regarding assessment, the 2006 Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth report Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind provides examples of assessment as, for and of. Assessment of students during my T&L activities was mainly conducted via submission of personal reflection (assessment for) on the hands-on lectures (assessment as). What are these two forms of assessment?

Assessment for Learning (Formative Assessment)

Assessment for learning is ongoing assessment that allows teachers to monitor students on a day-to-day basis and modify their teaching based on what the students need to be successful. This assessment provides students with the timely, specific feedback that they need to make adjustments to their learning (2006, Manitoba).

Assessment as Learning

Assessment as learning develops and supports students' metacognitive skills. This form of assessment is crucial in helping students become lifelong learners. As students engage, they learn to make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge and use it for new learning. Students develop a sense of ownership and efficacy when they use teacher, peer and self-assessment feedback to make adjustments, improvements and changes to what they understand (2006, Manitoba).

Students were asked to provide testimonials/personal reflections of their experiences while undertaking the on-line survery on marine litter and microplastics, and/or in the field trip in Galway bay on board of the Research Vessel Celtic Voyager. Below are examples of those testimonials:

Student testimonials

This section explores the personal reflections of students.

Permission has be given by the student to showcase their testimonials in this section.

To be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, names were changed to protect personal data.

Online survey on marine litter and MICROPLASTIC pollution

Link to survey | Link to video about survey

This survey is a great way to assess the knowledge of the general public, students included, as it is designed in an easy to understand format. It’s a long survey, but I understand that Joao want to get as much information as possible from people. If there was a way to move forward in the survey without answering the questions that may have been nice as you can see visually what kind of work lies ahead in the pages. It is also a good way for the general public to think about the marine litter problem that we are facing globally.

Student A, PhD candidate


The online survey "Perceptions about marine anthropogenic litter and microplastic pollution in Ireland" is a fine tool aimed at inquiring people about marine litter while allowing them to rethink lifestyle. The survey is well assembled to capture different social perceptions that students might have about marine litter, which is a big problem we are currently facing. The questions where extremely interesting and relevant in the present-day. I find this to be an excellent learning tool.


Student B, PhD candidate


The project was well explained and easy to understand.  I thought the survey was well laid out and clear, plus the images made it aesthetically pleasing and informative.  The questions were well thought-out and made the person taking the survey think through the options. I enjoyed taking the survey, I think it was fit for purpose and am interested in the results!

Student C, PhD candidate


The content and structure of the online survey questionnaire as part of the IMP.act Project cover topics about the sources, accumulation areas, types, sizes, causes and effects of marine litter and microplastics pollution, as well as the rates of plastic production, recycling, decomposition, and degradation. Some examples of market-based instruments and other initiatives currently in place and the willingness of the respondents to take part in it has been also tackled. The last part was interesting as it provides information of successful projects being implemented not just in Ireland but other parts of Europe, in which the questions could gather views of people regarding its feasibility and replicability within some specified target areas. In terms of length, the number of questions and time spent in completing the survey, I find it quite longer than usual. There are also some questions that were similar and repetitive, however, I can fully understand that this kind of questionnaire’s structure is necessary to determine whether the respondents are giving full attention while answering it and if they thoroughly read and properly answered the questions depending on their perception.In general, I am convinced that the IMP.act Online Survey would be able to attain its aim which is to assess the thoughts, opinions, and perceptions of respondents about marine anthropogenic litter and microplastic pollution in Ireland.


Student D, International MSc Student

Celtic Voyager Day Trip Survey

Link to the blog of the Marine Institute Scientists@Sea

Joao was extremely prepared for the Celtic Voyager teaching cruise. Before the cruise, students were well-informed of all tasks and responsibilities. All tasks were thoroughly outlined and explained to us. He was very approachable when we had any questions. His adaptability to the differing weather conditions in relation to our sample collection abilities were fantastic. The clear organization of the day was helpful and made for a smoothly run sampling experience. I absolutely enjoyed this learning experience.

Student A, PhD candidate


I partook in João’s microplastics cruise on board the R/V Celtic Voyager in February 2019. João provided excellent demonstrations in the assembly and deployment of monitoring and sampling equipment for marine microplastics, specifically the manta trawl for surface water samples, the box corer for sediment samples, as well as beam trawl for collection of benthic fauna. I learned a lot from my time there, and having never been at sea before, am eager to return on a similar cruise with João.

Student E, PhD candidate


I had the chance to take part on the assessment of microplastic hotspots in Galway Bay on board the RV Celtic Voyager in February 2019. This research initiative is part of the IMP.act Research Project in which one of the aims is to identify the hotspots of accumulation and distribution patterns of microplastics (MP) in Galway Bay and its environs. Samples from different environmental compartments such as water surface, sediment, and biota were taken from the strategically defined sampling locations within the bay, using various sampling materials including the manta trawl, the beam trawl, and the Reineck box corer. This research cruise has given me an opportunity to enhance my understanding and gain valuable skills in relation to microplastic research through on-board/fieldwork training as well as exposure to advance and state-of-the-art facilities.

Student D, International MSc Student