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TitleTransforming assessment and feedback
LanguageEnglish
File Size298.6 KB
Total Pages84
Table of Contents
                            Preface
Acknowledgements
1 Outline and scope
2 A guide for readers
3 Practical recommendations forimproving assessment and feedback in the first year ofhigher education
	3.1 Introduction
	3.2 Recommendations
4 Literature review andframework
	4.1 Introduction
	4.2 Definitions and purposes of assessment and feedback
	4.3 The role of assessment and feedback
	4.4 A framework for analysis
5 Bridging theory and practice:assessment and feedback principles
	5.1 Introduction
	5.2 The 12 principles of good assessment and feedback:evidence base
6 Examples of theimplementation of the assessmentand feedback principles
	6.1 Simple techniques
	6.2 Case studies of assessment and feedback practices in thefirst year of undergraduate study
7 References
8 Appendix
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Enhancing practice

Quality Enhancement Themes:
The First Year Experience

Transforming assessment and feedback:
enhancing integration and empowerment

in the first year

Page 2

' The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2009

ISBN 978 1 84482 901 9

All Enhancement Themes publications are also available at www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk

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Page 42

Another approach to structuring dialogue is for teachers to set group tasks. For example,
peer dialogue is particularly powerful in contexts where students in groups have to agree
a common output in relation to a complex task or project. In this case, peer dialogue
can significantly benefit individual learning as it exposes students to alternative
perspectives and students often ’scaffold’ each other’s learning. Group projects also
encourage students to study and learn together, which leads to the natural development
of friendships and supportive groupings.

Teacher-student dialogue and interaction are also important to effective learning and
social integration (Chickering and Gamson, 1987). In academic contexts, teacher-student
dialogue is often required to clarify the meaning of feedback messages (for example,
’this report requires more critical analysis’) and clear up conceptual misunderstandings.

In most studies of feedback, students request more one-to-one contact with academic
staff. However, with the current large numbers of students in first-year classes it can be
difficult to increase such contact. Peer dialogue can help here, if appropriately
monitored. Some lecturers have also begun to replace face-to-face lectures with online
materials so as to increase opportunities for personal contact time with their students.
Others have begun to use new technologies such as EVS and discussion boards
(Nicol, in press; Banks, 2006). EVS makes structured teacher-student dialogue possible in
large classes, while discussion boards can provide a record of peer discussions, enabling
tutors to monitor peer feedback processes in a supportive and non-dominating way.

The key question here is: What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue
(peer and/or tutor-student) around assessment tasks on your course?

Principle 7: Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning

In order to foster independent learning in the first year of university study, it is necessary
to provide students with many opportunities to regulate their own learning. This calls for
structured tasks that encourage reflection and self-assessment. When students engage in
academic tasks (for example, essay writing, solving problems), to varying degrees they are
already monitoring and assessing their own progress. Hence, formalising opportunities for
self-assessment in the curriculum would not only capitalise on abilities that students
already possess, but would also ensure that these abilities are developed further.

Through self-assessment, students develop the ability to make evaluative judgements
about what and how they are learning. This moves them away from dependence on a
teacher towards greater self-responsibility in learning. Research has shown that
systematic practice in self-assessment enhances learner autonomy, improves performance
in final exams and activates intrinsic motivation (Black and Wiliam, 1998; McDonald and
Boud, 2003). Self-assessment involves students in identifying the standards/criteria that
apply to their work and making judgements about how this work relates to these
standards (Boud, 2000). Hence principle 1 (clarify goals, criteria and standards) might be
seen as a prerequisite for the effective implementation of self-assessment.

Self-assessment tasks can range from the simple to the complex. Students might,
for example, be asked to make some judgements about their own work before an
assignment submission (for example, its strengths and weaknesses, whether they have
met certain criteria), or estimate the mark they think will be awarded and give a reason
for this judgement, or they might be involved in selecting and compiling work for a

37

Enhancing practice

Page 43

portfolio. Another way that self-assessment skills can be developed is by providing
students with opportunities to evaluate and give feedback on the work of other students
(with tutor monitoring where appropriate). Such peer processes help to develop the
skills needed to make objective judgements against standards - skills which are often
transferred when students turn to producing and regulating their own work (Boud et al,
1999; Gibbs, 1999).

Importantly, the development of self-assessment is a necessary condition in order to
maximise the effectiveness of teacher feedback. To make use of teacher feedback, students
must decode feedback messages, internalise them and use them to make evaluative
judgements about their own learning and also to make improvements. Clearly, the better
students are at self-assessment the better use they can make of teacher feedback.

The key question here is: To what extent are there formal opportunities for
reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment on your course?

Principle 8: Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing
of assessments

The provision of choice in the topic, methods, weighting, criteria or timing of
assessment tasks is about offering learners more flexibility in what, how and when they
study. Greater flexibility gives students control over aspects of their own learning and
prepares them for their future as lifelong learners (see Heron, 1988, for a discussion of
ideas behind this principle). When students enter the workplace they are often required
as professionals to create the criteria for their own learning and assess themselves against
these criteria. Hence at university they should have opportunities to develop these skills.

Also, although students normally follow a fixed curricular diet based on their course,
a case can be made that not all students progress in learning at the same pace.
This suggests a need for more personalisation, such as different timings for assessments
tied to individual needs or progress. At a pragmatic level, increasing numbers of students
now have part-time employment while at university, which calls for more flexible
assessment arrangements. Accessibility legislation is also showing that different modes
of assessment might be required for students with different needs.

Some flexibility and personalisation already exist in HE. Students are often able to select
topics for project work and they sometimes have choice about when they can take an
online test (timing). In portfolio assessment, students are asked to choose what content
to put forward for assessment to evidence their achievement. Another strategy is to
involve students in adding their own criteria to those provided by the teacher when
engaging in project work (with assessment being based on both sets).

Choices of this kind are often only available in later years of study, however, they could
be brought into the first year if the goal is to motivate and empower students. A key
issue raised here concerns comparability of standards - flexibility should not allow
students to avoid studying critical areas of the defined curriculum. On the contrary,
rigorous assessment of learning outcomes should continue where appropriate, but
flexibility in formative opportunities is critical where it helps students to develop the skills
required to achieve those outcomes (see principle 5, page 35 for a discussion of
summative assessment).

38

First year experience

Page 83

8 Appendix

QQuuaalliittyy EEnnhhaanncceemmeenntt TThheemmeess FFiirrsstt YYeeaarr EExxppeerriieennccee rreeppoorrttss

Sector-wide discussion projects:

Gordon, G (2008) Sector-wide discussion: the nature and purposes of the first year

Kochanowska, R and Johnston, W (2009) Student expectations, experiences and reflections
on the first year

Practice-focused development projects:

Bovill, C, Morss, K and Bulley, C (2008) Curriculum design for the first year

Nicol, D (2009) Transforming assessment and feedback: enhancing integration and
empowerment in the first year

Black, FM and MacKenzie, J (2008) Peer support in the first year

Miller, K, Calder, C, Martin, A, McIntyre, M, Pottinger, I and Smyth, G (2008)
Personal Development Planning in the first year

Knox, H and Wyper, J (2008) Personalisation of the first year

Alston, F, Gourlay, L, Sutherland, R and Thomson, K (2008) Introducing scholarship skills:
academic writing

Whittaker, R (2008) Transition to and during the first year

78

First year experience

Page 84

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