22 SES 13 A, Paper Session
In Higher Education, “there is a substantial evidence that assessment, rather than teaching, has the major influence on student’s learning. It directs attention to what is important, acts as an incentive for study, and has a powerful effect on student’s approaches to their work” (Boud & Falchikov, 2007).
In higher education, assessment practices tend to remain traditional, focused on high stake examinations and certification. Regarding the impact on assessment on people lives and careers, it is risky to change the system without attentively considering the consequences of such changes. However, since the 1970s, studies have shown, as reported in Dochy, Segers, Gijbels and Struyven (2007), that student learning tend to remain superficial depending on the nature of assessment. They focus on achievement needed to succeed at a given course. University does not prepare students enough for longer-term learning outcomes, which refer to outcomes that are « durable, flexible, functional, generalisable, and application-oriented » (Dochy et al., 2007). What can be done to prepare students for a lifetime of learning in their professional lives and in the community?
The literature defined different characteristics aiming at changing assessment practices in higher education. In particular,
- Assessment should be highly integrated in learning and instruction;
- Assessment should propose different taxonomic levels of tasks;
- Assessment should rely on varied methods, tools, temporalities, spaces (in / out of the classroom);
- Students should share responsibility for assessment, through self-assessment and peer assessment practices, continuous dialogues with their teachers;
- Assessment should promote reflexive attitudes, and self- and co-regulated actions.
As a follow up to Boud’s work (2000; Boud & Soler, 2016), a crucial purpose is to equip students to learn for the long term. But applying the aforementioned characteristics is not enough to ensure that student learning will be sustainable. There is a lack of evidence as to what is truly determinative to foster long-term learning through innovative assessment practices in higher education. The purpose of our research is to contribute to the conceptualization of elements in assessment practices that would be conducive to the development of a "learning lasting for life" (Dochy, 2005) and life-long learning attitude.
To do this, we build upon the theory of situated learning and communities of practice (e.g., Lave, 1988; Lave & Wenger, 1991), which is concerned with the quality of learning by comparing the conditions of in-school and out-of-school learning. In this perspective, assessment can be seen as a kind of “participation practice in a community” likely to produce learning. In a situated perspective, this learning is intrinsically linked to the situations experienced. It incorporates the contextual dimensions imposed, negotiated, co-constructed in situations. Depending on the nature of the situations and tasks, we postulate that the student will learn not only the cognitive skills demanded in the assessment, but also the metacognitive, social, affective dimensions involved in the situations. In our work, we try to develop particularly the ideas of “pro-social skills” (‘bienveillance’ in French, defined as a positive disposition towards others and a concern for others and their empowerment, Jellab, 2018) and “pro-social assessment” (linked to positive dispositions towards assessment) integrated in cognitive challenges (in problem-solving situations).
Our research questions are the following:
- In terms of the engineering of assessment into the learning process (Dochy et al., 2007), what characteristics seem to favour the articulation between cognitive skills and pro-social / pro-social assessment skills?
- In terms of student perceptions, what characteristics they specifically identified as conducive to cognitive and transferable outcomes in a long-term learning perspective?
Our research was conducted in an undergraduate university course on assessment in education. The continuing assessment (integrating formative and summative purposes) included diverse collaborative and individual tasks during one semester (90 minutes per week). 64 students took the course. All were enrolled in an education major, although not all of them planned on becoming teachers. The data collected is as follows: - Traces produced by the two teachers describing the different parts of the continuous assessment: problem-solving situations in small groups; peer-feedback; forums of discussion among peers; perception questionnaires (online); reflective writing tasks. - Reflective writing tasks (64) produced by the students, structured around the following questions: o What are the main positive outcomes that you perceived from the continuing assessment? Explain why in a concrete way. o What are the main limits / difficulties that you perceived from the continuing assessment? Explain why in a concrete way. o This type of assessment aims at (1) supporting student learning progressions for the given course, (2) but also at supporting the development of assessment skills for the longer term (skills that can be useful for further studies, professional, personal and community lives). Still regarding your own experience and perception of the continuing assessment, what is your opinion on the matter? Please argue your viewpoint. Based on Paillé and Mucchielli’s proposals (2012), a qualitative and interpretative approach was used to analyze the data: 1. A descriptive analysis (related to categories defined in the literature) of the different parts of the continuous assessment: goals, nature of tasks, guidelines, social and material organization of each part, spaces and temporalities. 2. A content analysis of the reflexive writing tasks regarding student perceptions of their learning linked to the continuous assessment with the support of the NVivo software. We conducted an interpretative analysis that triangulates results from the different data traces. The interpretations consist in examining the characteristics of (possibly) sustainable assessment with regard to the dialectical relationship (Lave, 1988) between: - The aspects of assessment that were “given”, imposed to students (arena), - and the targeted aspects constructed by students through their situated activities and experiences (setting). We explored this relationship from the perspective of (1) pro-social skills and (2) pro-social assessment. Interpretative results will discuss these with a focus on long-term learning perspective (in terms of processes and outcomes).
Regarding the engineering of assessment, our results show not only the characteristics of the different parts of the continuing assessment, but also the links constructed by teachers (and perceived and experienced by students) between the different parts for the purposes of co-regulation (Andrade & Brookhart, 2019) of learning and teaching. Overall, the links between parts of continuous assessment appear to be little explored in the literature. It appears to be an important condition for supporting the development of "pro-social assessment skills" among students, since it constrains them (in the sense of an affordance) to create lines of coherence and continuity (or rupture) between the different assessment experiences. One experience serves another in order to achieve intermediate objectives and a more global goal (considering that this goal is not final, but can be carried on). Results show concretely how the articulation between pro-social assessment skills and academic purposes has been made possible by the continuous assessment proposed. In terms of student perceptions, the reflexive writing tasks show different interesting elements, among which the construction/transformation of students’ assessment identities in anticipation with their future professional lives as teachers. Interestingly, students questioned their previous experiences founding their beliefs to adopt a pro-social assessment disposition, including pro-social feedback skills. Most students realized their progression during the continuous assessment, and signal a new affective relationship with assessment, less stressful and more reassuring. Nevertheless, some students questioned the iterative design of the assessment and the appropriation of concepts mostly through practical and social experiences. This communication will address the changing culture of learning in higher education, including the idea that assessment could, under certain conditions, profit not only “immediate” learning, but also “lasting for life" (Dochy, 2005). We will propose some guidelines for the engineering of assessment into the learning process, discussed with propositions from the literature.
Andrade, H. & Brookhart, S. (2019). Classroom assessment as the co-regulation of learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice. DOI: 10.1080/0969594X.2019.1571992 Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable assessment: rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education, 22(2), 151-167. Boud, D. & Falchikov, N. (Eds.) (2007). Rethinking assessment in higher education: learning for the longer term. Oxford: Routledge (Kindle edition). Boud, D., & Soler, R. (2016). Sustainable assessment revisited. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 400-413. doi:10.1080/02602938.2015.1018133 Dochy, F. (2005). Learning lasting for life: how far di we progress? Presidential address at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference, Nicosia, Cyprus. Dochy F., Segers M., Gijbels D. & Struyven K. (2007) Assessment engineering: breaking down barriers between teaching and learning, and assessment. In Boud D, Falchikov N. (Eds.), Rethinking assessment in higher education: learning for the longer term (pp. 87.100). Oxford: Routledge (Kindle edition). Jellab, A. (2018). La bienveillance, un nouveau care en éducation ? Plaidoyer critique et constructif pour une notion pédagoquement vive. In A. Jellab & C. Marsollier (Eds.), Bienveillance et bien-être à l'école: pour une école humaine et exigeante (pp. 19-56). Boulogne-Billancourt: Berger-Levrault. Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Paillé, P. & Mucchielli, A. (2012). L'analyse qualitative en sciences humaines et sociales. Paris: Armand Colin.
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