22 SES 04 C, Learning and Assessment
Time is the most valuable resource to most academics and lack of time is one of the greatest barriers to providing timely, meaningful feedback to students. This applies especially to programmes or modules with large student numbers, and where opportunities for face-to-face contact with students are limited. This paper discusses findings from the data generation phase of a research project to design and implement an Assessment for learning (AfL) approach to student feedback and assessment in higher education. More specifically, this reports on the experiences of (n=29) undergraduate students taking a business module with large student numbers (+150) in one university setting. As such, the project targets one of the greatest problems in facing practitioners in higher education: how to respond in a timely and optimal manner to the learning needs of large student cohorts, to assess what students are learning and what they are not. The approach adopted in this project aims to support students to become active agents in their own learning, setting and assessing their learning goals relative to the demands of their programme of study. The guiding questions for this aspect of the research project are: 1. What are student’s current practices for goal setting and self-assessment? 2. What do they find to be effective to support their goal setting, their self-assessment and learning? This in turn forms part of the broader project remit to design, develop and evaluate, with students and staff, appropriate scaffolding processes and tools for application across all programmes within the higher education setting.
The theoretical framework for this study is AfL, an approach which puts the student at the centre of their own learning experience, assessing their current state of knowledge and setting the direction for learning within a particular module or programme of learning. The AfL ‘feedback loop’ has been identified as having a powerful effect on both quality learning and learning outcomes (Black and William, 1998). Moreover, while the principles of Afl are well established at first and second level (e.g. DES, 2015), the adoption of the approach in higher education is not widespread, though it is emerging (Freeman and Dobbins, 2013; Florez and Sambell, 2013; Sambell, McDowell and Montgomery, 2013). In particular, the ‘holistic’ approach to applying an Afl approach suggested by Sambell et al (2013) provided a valuable framework for considering current mechanisms for student feedback and assessment, as well as guiding future Afl-informed interventions that might arise from the findings from this research project. In specific terms, Sambell et al suggest that an effective Afl practice at third level is:
- rich in formal feedback (e.g. tutor comment; self-assessment systems)
- rich in informal feedback though dialogic teaching and peer interaction
- provides opportunities to try out and practice knowledge, skills and understanding
- has assessment tasks which are authentic or relevant
- assists students to develop independence and autonomy
- has an appropriate balance between formative and summative assessment (2013,p.5).
Sambell et al suggest that these components overlap and interrelate in a holistic way and can act as different ‘lenses’ through which to look at our assessment practices in the higher education setting (2013, p.8).
Black, P.J., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability 21 (1), 5-31. Bain, J. (2010). Integrating student voice: assessment for empowerment. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 4(1), 14-29. DES (2015). Junior Cycle Reform: Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation by Teachers’ Union of Ireland Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland Department of Education and Skills. Retrieved from https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/Junior-Cycle-Reform-Joint-Statement-on-Principles-and-Implementation.pdf Findlayson, C. (2014). Using focus groups to enhance student voice: a work-in-progress exploration of student learning experiences in large classes. Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 6 (1), 49-54. Florez, M.T., & Sammon, P. (2013). Assessment for learning: effects and impact. (Oxford: Dept. of Education, Oxford University). Retrieved from: http://cdn.cfbt.com/~/media/cfbtcorporate/files/research/2013/r-assessment-for-learning-2013.pdf Fluckiger, J., Tixier y Vigil, Y., Pasco, R. J., & Danielson, K.E. (2010). Formative Feedback: Involving Students as Partners in Assessment to Enhance Learning. Teacher Education Faculty Publications, 64. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/tedfacpub/64 Freeman, R., & Dobbins, K. (2013). Are we serious about enhancing courses? Using the principles of assessment for learning to enhance course evaluation. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(2), 142-151. Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations’ British Educational Research Journal, 33 (6), 927-942. McDowell, L., Wakelin, D., Montgomery, C. & King, S. (2011). Does assessment for learning make a difference? The development of a questionnaire to explore the student response. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(7), 749-765. DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2010.488792 Sambell, K., McDowell, L., & Montgomery, C. (2013). Assessment for Learning in Higher Education. London: Routledge. Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 5-23. Wiliam, D. (2011). What is Assessment for Learning? Studies in Educational Evaluation, 37, 3-14.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.