22 SES 07 A, Assessment Practices
Nowadays, higher education systems are being called to reconsider the aims of assessment if we want that students develop skills and competencies for their future personal and professional life. Pursuing such aims involves the active participation of students in the assessment process.
The dissemination of outcome-based education (Deneen et al., 2013; Singh, Ramya, 2011; Harden, Crosby, Davis, 1999) shows the need to review several aspects such as educational policies, structure of higher education systems, and instructional design.
Hence the need to define a different assessment model for the teaching-learning process. This raises a variety of questions: How students define assessment? Do students recognize and understand elements that can lead to an improvement in their performance?
Although assessment holds an essential position in the higher education field and even though recent production reflects swings in the practice and in the context in which it works, educational research still seems inchoative. Current studies, especially on an international level, are moving towards the revision of traditional modalities of testing, the individuation of alternative forms of assessment and above all, the analysis of representations and perceptions that teachers and students have about assessment (Brown, Harris, 2012; Brown et al., 2009; Peterson, Irving, 2007).
If we consider conceptions as a «general mental structures, encompassing beliefs, meanings, concepts, propositions, rules, mental images, preferences, and the like» (Thompson, 1992: p. 130) we can understand how important is to investigate these conceptions in the educational system (Richardson, 1996; Thompson, 1992; Clark, Peterson, 1986).
Students’ conceptions and representations about assessment relate to how students approach learning and studying. «Teacher and student beliefs or conceptualizations of educational processes (e.g., teaching, learning, and assessment) have been shown to significantly predict practices and outcomes across a range of learning domains» (Brown, Harris, 2012: p. 46).
Starting from a review of previous research on students’ conceptions and representations, this paper focuses on students’ representations about assessment in Italian higher education context. An online survey has been administrated to students in two Italian universities (Bari and Verona). Students responded to an Italian adaptation of Students’ Conceptions of Assessment Inventory (VI) (Brown, Harris, 2012).
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