ERG SES C 03, Interactive Poster Session
The Bologna Process has brought about changes in Higher Education within a renewed framework with implications for curriculum design and, consequently, for teaching, learning and assessment methods. This educational paradigm recognises the key role of students in their learning process based on autonomy, shared work and project-based work (Flores & Veiga Simão, 2007) and also the adoption of transdisciplinary knowledge, pedagogical innovation and student-centred education in order to achieve educational excellence in Higher Education (Esteves, 2008).
Pedagogical innovation in Higher Education is a key issue in the educational priorities in Portugal, Europe and elsewhere. In this context, the need for developing and evaluating Assessment for Learning (AfL) approaches in Higher Education has been pointed out to improve the teaching and learning quality in universities (McDowell et al., 2011). Seen as a pedagogical innovation (Gipps, 1994), the AfL approach has been considered “a teaching strategy of very high leverage” (Hargreaves, 2004, in Marshall & Drummond, 2006, p. 133). It emphasises formative assessment and continuous feedback mechanisms between teacher and student for adjustment of teaching strategies and learning activities (McDowell et al., 2009; Reimann & Wilson, 2012). Instead of meeting the purposes of accountability and certification, AfL practices promote students’ learning as a priority (Black et al., 2002). Thus learning results from significant learning experiences adjusted to students’ needs, rather than developing traditional activities and prescribed knowledge (Perrenoud, 1991).
McDowell, Wakelin, Montgomery, and King (2011, p. 750) describe AfL as an assessment environment that “is rich in formal and informal feedback; 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 and has an appropriate balance between formative and summative assessment”.
Literature has shown that AfL practices stimulate students’ engagement in a more active way, providing them with more positive formative experiences, such as: greater teacher support, flexible curricular design, dialogue opportunities, peer learning and research opportunities (Black et al., 2005; McDowell et al., 2011).
Recent literature points to the need for higher acknowledgement about the relation between assessment and the teaching and learning process in Higher Education (Pereira, 2011), as well as the need for developing and evaluating AfL approaches in Higher Education (McDowell et al., 2011). Thus, there is a need for further research in this area in Higher Education, particularly in the Portuguese context. It is within this framework that the present study was carried out.
This poster draws on data from an ongoing PhD project, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) (SFRH/BD/94152/2013), aimed at investigating AfL in sciences, engineering and social sciences in two public universities in Portugal. This project is also part of a larger study, also funded by FCT (PTDC/MHCCED/2703/2014), aimed at investigating assessment in higher education, namely the potential of alternative methods. With three different research studies, the project combines quantitative and qualitative methods: the development of exploratory focus groups to get to know general perceptions about teaching, learning and assessment in higher education (exploratory study); a survey to get to know students and university teachers’ perceptions about assessment in higher education; and the development of an intervention project with students focused on AfL to evaluate the impact of AfL practices in teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. Data reported in this poster were collected through the development of the intervention project focused on AfL, namely with the development of a questionnaire and monitoring strategies of teaching, learning and assessment. The overall research objectives of the intervention project are: a) to develop monitoring strategies of the teaching, learning and assessment process; b) to understand the relation between assessment and learning in higher education; and c) to reflect about the potential and implications of AfL in the teaching, assessment and learning process and in the academic outcomes in higher education. In total, 70 students enrolled at an engineering programme, in one public university in Portugal, participated in this phase. This scientific domain was selected due to the high rate of students’ failure and dropout. Data were collected between February and June 2016 in one engineering course with student-centred methodologies and AfL practices. The study developed was approved by the UMinho Ethics Committee.
Findings provide an analysis of the implications and potential of AfL approaches in the teaching and learning process and also in the academic outcomes in Higher Education. Findings also look at the impact of AfL approaches on students’ perceptions about assessment and learning in Higher Education. Implications of the findings for enhancing the quality and innovation in Higher Education will be further discussed.
Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2002). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. London, UK: King’s College London School of Education. Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2005). Assessment for Learning. Putting it into practice. England: Open University Press. Esteves, M. (2008). Para a excelência pedagógica do ensino superior. Sísifo. Revista de Ciências da Educação, 07, 101-110. 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, 4-5 junho 2007. Alicante. Gipps, C. (1994). Beyond testing: Towards a theory of educational assessment. London: Falmer Press. Marshall, B., & Drummond, M. (2006). How teachers engage with Assessment for Learning: lessons from the classroom. Research Papers in Education, 21(02), 133 – 149. McDowell, L., Sambell, K., & Davison, G. (2009). Assessment for learning: A brief history and review of terminology. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving student learning through the curriculum (pp. 56–64). Oxford, UK: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. 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. Pereira, D. (2011). A Avaliação das Aprendizagens no Ensino Superior na perspetiva dos estudantes. Um estudo exploratório (Unpublished master’s thesis). Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal. Perrenoud, P. (1991). Towards a pragmatic approach to formative evaluation. In P. Weston (Ed.), Assessment of pupil achievement (pp.79-101). Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger. Reimann, N., & Wilson, A. (2012). Academic development in ‘assessment for learning’: the value of a concept and communities of assessment practice. International Journal for Academic Development, 17(1), 71-83.
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