The assessment of the students’ learning has been an issue of concern in higher education (Sambell et al., 1997; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Struyven et al., 2005; Pereira et al., 2016). Different perspectives suggest that a shift in the assessment paradigm has occurred, based on the transition from an instruction paradigm to a learning paradigm (Barr & Tagg, 1995), from a summative ‘testing culture’ to an integrated ‘assessment culture’ (Birenbaum, 1997), or, in other words, from a teacher-centred approach to a learner-centred approach (Huba & Freed, 2000; Kahl & Venette, 2010). These changes have challenged and influenced the assessment process and its relationship with teaching and learning. The aim of this paper is to analyse the assessment process in Portuguese higher education settings from the students’ perspectives in five Portuguese public universities. The main purpose is to look at the students’ conceptions of assessment in higher education taking into account the assessment practices used, the influence of assessment in their motivation to learn as well as the self-regulation of the learning process. Although there are studies focusing on students’ conceptions of assessment and their impact on learning (Brown & Hirschfeld, 2008; Fletcher et al., 2012; Gibbs & Simpson, 2004) more needs to be done in regard to students’ beliefs related to assessment practices, as well as the relationship between their beliefs and the processes of teaching and learning (Brown & Hirschfeld, 2008). As Biggs (2003) suggests, explained that how students see assessment will affect their involvement in the learning process. In Biggs’ perspective, while in the assessment process cycle, teachers first see the objectives, learning outcomes and learning activities and only then look at assessment, students see assessment first of all and only afterwards look at learning activities and the outcomes. Furthermore, earlier literature suggests that the ideas that students associate with assessment are related to the area of knowledge that they are doing as well as the assessment methods used by the university teachers (Pereira, Niklasson, & Flores, 2016; Pereira, Barros, & Flores, in press). In other words, assessment influences, either negatively or positively, student learning and may be seen as an incentive for study and for improved performance (Watering, Gijbels, & Dochy, 2008; Biggs, 2003; Brown & Knight, 1994; Brown, Bull, & Pendlebury, 1997; Boud & Falchikov, 2007).
Barr, R., & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning: a new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change 27 (6):12-25. Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: SHRE and Open University Press. Birenbaum, M. (1997). Assessment preferences and their relationship to learning strategies and orientations. Higher Education 33 (1): 71-84. Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and Classroom Learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice 5 (1): 7-74. Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (2007). Rethinking assessment in higher education: learning for the long term. Routledge: New York. Brown, G., Bull, J., & Pendlebury, M. (1997). Assessing student learning in higher education. London: Routledge. Brown, G., & Hirschfeld, G. (2008). Students’ conceptions of assessment: links to outcomes. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 15 (1): 3-17. Brown, S., & Knight, P. (1994). Assessing learners in higher education. London: Kogan Page. Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C. (2004). Conditions under which assessment supports students’learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1, 3-31. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/fast/pdfs/Gibbs%20and%20Simpson%202004-05.pdf. Huba, M.E., & Freed, J. (2000). Learner-centered Assessment on College Campuses: Shifting the Focus from Teaching to Learning. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Kahl, D., & Venette, S. (2010). To Lecture or Let Go: A Comparative Analysis of Student Speech Outlines from Teacher-Centered and Learner-Centered Classrooms. Communication Teacher 24 (3): 178-186. Pereira, D., Flores, M., & Barros, A. (in press). Perceptions of Portuguese undergraduate students about assessment: A study in five public universities. Educational Studies. Pereira, D., Flores, M., & Niklasson, L. (2016). Assessment revisited: a review of research in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 41 (7): 1008-1032. Pereira, D., Niklasson, L., & Flores, M.A. (2016). Students’ perceptions of assessment: a comparative analysis between Portugal and Sweden. Higher Education. doi:10.1007/s10734-016-0005-0. Sambell, K., McDowell, L., & Brown, S. (1997). But is it fair?: an exploratory study of student perceptions of the consequential validity of assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 23 (4), 349-371. Struyven, K., Dochy, F., & Janssens, S. (2005). Students’ perceptions about evaluation and assessment in higher education: a review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 30 (4): 331–347. Watering, G., Gijbels, D., Dochy, F., & Rijt, J. (2008). Students’ assessment preferences, perceptions of assessment and their relationships to study results. Higher Education 56 (6), 645-658.
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