Reframing Assessment #1

I’m doing some writing on/about assessment practices at the moment and relating it to some of my findings from my PhD research…
So rather than a 15k word essay I’m going to use the Tiny URL approach and condense the key issues into a series a posts.

To start the series, it feels appropriate to position my thoughts, in an attempt to outline where these posts may lead…
For those readers of this blog that also follow my social networking status (Facebook, Twitter etc) – you’re already aware that I’ve been recently drowning in mounds of assignments and marking, marking, marking. How has this impacted on approach to assessment? Well… that’s exactly why I’m compelled to start writing this series!

To get the ball rolling… this excerpt from David Boud and Nancy Falchikov (2007, p.3) provides a useful starting point:

"Assessment frames students’ views of higher education. It is also a major concern and burden for those teaching them…
[ABB: yep – that’s me!]

Assessment, rather than teaching, has a major influence on students’ learning. It directs attention to what is important. It acts as an incentive for study.
[ABB: how many times do you hear the question: is this in the exam? Is this part of the assignment?]
Assessment also communicates to them what they can and cannot succeed in doing. For some it builds confidence for their future work; for others, it shows how inadequate they are as learners and undermines their confidence…

Assessment would be less of a problem if we could be assured that what occurs under the guise of assessment appropriately influenced student learning. However, when we look at the content and approaches used in the dominant assessment practices in higher education, we find that they are often focussed on students demonstrating current knowledge, generating material for grading and getting (often inadequate) feedback from teachers…. "

So, that’s the starting point – my next posts will look at the What (is assessment)?, What is a deadline?, Why (assess)?, How (to re-frame our assessment practices)?, Designing assessment… and perhaps a few more in-between!
Any thoughts or feedback would be welcomed!

Boud, D. & Falchikov, N. 2007, Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education: Learning for the longer term, Routledge, London.

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