22 SES 01 E, Assessment and Quality of Higher Education
In the last few years, the European higher education experienced several changes in terms of reorganization of courses, study programs, and curricula. These changes were a result of the Bologna Process. They entailed a number of challenges for the Portuguese universities with implications for training projects, teaching, learning, and assessment practices.
Based on a "new" paradigm centered on the active role of the student and on learning (Simão, Santos & Costa, 2003), Bologna implied different roles for teachers and students with impact on teaching/learning methods and assessment practices including a different pedagogical organization, marked by greater curricular flexibility, new forms and pedagogical assessment processes and also for a differentiated organization of the teachers and students’ work (Lima, 2006; Pereira & Flores, 2012).
In higher education, traditional and prescriptive assessment tools are often used (mainly the written exam), that highlights the grading system and reinforces hierarchies (Perrenoud, 1999; Pereira & Flores, 2012). Other perspectives of assessment, for instance Assessment for Learning (McDowell, Wakelin, Montgomery & King, 2011) reveal that students are not mere consumers of classes and tests (Flores & Veiga Simão, 2007; Pereira & Flores, 2012), as they may assume an increasingly greater role and responsibility in the assessment process. Teachers also need to assume teaching and learning on a more autonomous, collaborative and integrated way, through shared projects; social production of knowledge; making the learning process more motivating (Flores & Veiga Simão, 2007); and understanding assessment as an integrant part of learning.
The changes arising from the Bologna Process have been widely discussed and analysed in the literature which, among other aspects, points to the learning outcomes, but also to the development of social skills which will enhance the success at the labour market (Dochy, Segers & Sluijsmans, 1999). These have implications for teaching methodologies and student-centered assessment methods (Webber, 2012) that enable the development of problem-solving skills (which are key to professional and personal success). In this context, there is an emphasis on alternate assessment methods that highlight professional autonomy, collaboration, and accountability, ensuring constructive feedback, interaction with peers and knowledge construction (Webber, 2012; Pereira & Flores, 2013). This paper examines the conceptions and practices of assessment from the perspective of university teachers in five Portuguese public universities after the implementation of the Bologna Process. It aims to contribute to improving the quality of learning and assessment practices and to understand possible implications of the Bologna Process for teaching and learning practices.
The study combines a quantitative and qualitative approach. Data were collected in 5 Portuguese Public Universities. Participants in this study are university teachers of all professional categories and teaching cycles, and from the following scientific areas: Hard Sciences, Engineering and Technology Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences and Social Sciences (n=185). In order to examine the conceptions and practices of assessment of teachers and to get to know the assessment practices in Higher Education after the Bologna Process, especially regarding changes, a survey was carried out. It is an adaptation of the "Teachers' Conceptions of Assessment (TCoA III) by Gavin TL Brown (2006) (University of Auckland, New Zealand) which was validated in the Portuguese context by Gonçalves (2011). This questionnaire also integrates section from the "Questionnaire on Learning Assessment in Higher Education" (Pereira, 2011) and as well as issues related to changes introduced after the Bologna Process in assessment practices. Permission from the authors was sought to use the questionnaires. In total, 185 university teachers participated in the study. Data were analysed through SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) and content analysis (open-ended questions). In this paper the following dimensions will be analyzed: 1) Changes in assessment practices and 2) The influence of the Bologna process on assessment practices.
In the last decades, assessment has been the subject of research according to different conceptions of assessment (Estrela & Veiga Simão, 2003; Perrenoud, 1999; Webber, 2012; Light & Cox, 2003; McDowell, Wakelin, Montgomery & King, 2011; among others). These different conceptions are present in the participants’ responses: although the majority of them claimed that they have changed the way in which they assess their students throughout their professional career (85.9%), the percentage of teachers who state that the implementation of the Bologna Process contributed to changing assessment practices in Higher Education is much smaller (47.8%). The changes related to the “semestrialization” of curricular units; pedagogical practice; the participation, autonomy, and centrality of the student; but also the "superficiality" and the resistance to change. This study reveals the existing of various tensions regarding the impact of Bologna Process in teachers’ assessment practices at various levels: working conditions, existing documents but, mostly, at the practice level. These and other issues will be explored further in the paper.
Brown, G.T.L. (2006). Teachers' conceptions of assessment inventory--Abridged (TCoA-IIIA-Version 3-Abridged). Unpublished test. Auckland, NZ: University of Auckland. Dochy, F., Segers, M., & Sluijsmans, D. (1999). The use of self-, peer and co-assessment in higher education: A review. Studies in Higher Education, 24, pp.331-350. doi: 10.1080/03075079912331379935 Estrela, M.T., & Veiga Simão, A.M. (2003). Algumas reflexões sobre práticas de avaliação do ensino universitário e dos docentes a partir de informação recolhida no projeto Evaluation and Self Evaluation of Universities in Europe (EVALUE). Revista Portuguesa de Avaliação, Braga, Portugal: Universidade do Minho, v. 16, n.1, pp.101-120. Flores, M.A., & Veiga Simão, A.M. (2007). Competências desenvolvidas no contexto do Ensino Superior: a perspetiva dos diplomados. In V Jornadas de Redes de Investigación en Docencia Universitaria. Alicante, Espanha, 4-5 junho. Gonçalves, R. (2011). Cuestionario Abreviado de Concepciones de Evaluación del Aprendizaje. Unpublished translation of Teachers' Conceptions of Assessment inventory (CoA-IIIA), Nursing School of Coimbra, Portugal. Light, G., & Cox, R. (2003). Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The Reflective Professional. London: Sage Publications. Lima, L.C. (2006). Bolonha à Portuguesa? A Página da Educação, Portugal, n. 160, p. 9. 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), pp.749-765 Pereira, D.R. (2011). A avaliação das aprendizagens no ensino superior na perspectiva dos estudantes: um estudo exploratório. Dissertação de mestrado em Ciências da Educação (área de especialização em Avaliação). Braga: Universidade do Minho. Pereira, D.R. & Flores, M.A. (2012). Percepções dos estudantes universitários sobre a avaliação das aprendizagens: um estudo exploratório. Avaliação (Campinas) [online], vol.17,n.2, pp.529-556. ISSN 1414-4077. Http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1414-40772012000200012. Pereira, D.R. & Flores, M.A. (2013). Avaliação e feedback no ensino superior: um estudio na Universidade do Minho. Rev. iberoam. educ. super [online], vol.4, n.10, pp.40-54. ISSN 2007-2872. Perrenoud, P. (1999). Avaliação: da excelência à regulação das aprendizagens: entre duas lógicas. Porto Alegre: Artmed. Simão, J. V., Machado dos Santos, S. & Almeida Costa, A. (2003). Ensino Superior: uma visão para a próxima década. Lisboa: Gradiva. Webber, K. (2012). The Use of Learner-Centered Assessment in US Colleges and Universities. Research in Higher Education 53(2), pp. 201-228.
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