SEDA Spring Teaching Learning and Assessment Conference 2016
Innovations in Assessment and Feedback Practice12 May 2016 - 13 May 2016
Location: The Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh
The next few years are likely to see dramatic change across HE and FE given recent developments in the national context such as the announcements about a possible Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), removing the caps on student numbers, and increasing use and experimentation with new technologies. Are our assessment and feedback processes sufficiently fit for purpose in this changing context and what can we learn from recent innovation and initiatives in this area?
This conference will explore these issues and be relevant and valuable to all academics, educational developers and learning technologists who have a role in improving assessment practice. There is strong evidence that we do need to pause and reflect on the processes and practices which underpin assessment - and feedback practices - in our institutions and across the wider HE sector. The evidence is troubling. Despite a growing theoretical base to guide practice O'Donovan, Rust and Price (2015) highlight there is a considerable body of research evidence that suggests this is the part of the assessment cycle that, as a sector, we generally appear to be worst at delivering, with little practical evidence of any impact on student learning.
The apparent ongoing challenges that surround assessment and feedback are perhaps surprising given the range of projects and initiatives over the last decade. The institutional appetite to support educational change in this area is driven largely by the National Student Survey data which has, since its inception, consistently indicated that students are notably less positive about assessment and feedback on their assignments than about other aspects of their learning experience (Williams and Kane, 2008), an assertion which still stands.
There have been a number of significant attempts to redress this situation. For example, the Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP) project (2005-07) emphasised the importance of formative assessment and developing skills of self-regulation; the Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA) and Programme-Assessment Strategies (PASS) projects provided evidence of the importance of a holistic approach to assessment and feedback design and shared models to support the application of this approach across institutions; while the JISC Assessment and Feedback programme (2010-14) funded the investigation of technology-focussed approaches with the goal of transforming both practice and the student experience. The HEA paper A Marked Improvement (2012) provided institutions with a ready-made assessment review tool, which explicitly promoted the principle of assessment for learning as well as the need for increased dialogue between staff and students around assessment, and even the QAA Quality code chapter B6 (2013), talked of students assessment literacy and the importance of dialogue with them about assessment. So it is both timely, and appropriate to ask how far these initiatives have influenced mainstream practice across the sector and what are the barriers to innovation.
O'Donovan, Rust and Price (2015) suggested that our ongoing challenges and failings in the assessment and feedback space reflects the limited and fragmented impact of pedagogic research on practice. Is this indeed the case? What can we individually and collectively do to more effectively share and embed the evidence from this research and the lessons learned from the many valuable projects (past and present) undertaken?
References and sources
- Assessment and quality assurance/enhancement processes
- Institutional policies and assessment practice
- Formative assessment strategies
- Innovative assessment and/or feedback practices informed by scholarship
- Evaluating the impact of changes in assessment practices
- Masters-level assessment strategies
- Programme-level assessment strategies
- Students as co-producers of assessment and feedback
- Strategies to encourage self-monitoring/regulation by students
- Supporting colleagues to develop skills in effective assessment and feedback design
- Supporting students to develop assessment literacy
- Technology-enhanced approaches to assessment and feedback.
References and sources
- A Marked Improvement (2012) HEA
- Berry O'Donovan, Chris Rust & Margaret Price (2015): A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1052774
- JISC Assessment and Feedback project
- PASS project
- TESTA project
- Joseph Williams & David Kane (2008): Exploring the NSS: assessment and feedback issues. York: Higher Education Academy.
- UK Quality Code for Higher Education - Chapter B6: Assessment of students and the recognition of prior learning (2013) QAA