22 SES 09 C, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
There is a widespread consensus on the idea that students attitudes towards their assessment is related to their performance. It has been repeatedly stated that how students organize their workload is conditioned by how their assessment is carried out in practice (Boud, 1990; Tang, 1994; Thomson and Falchikov, 1998; Segers and Dochy, 2006). In clarification of this statement, the revision of students workloads carried out by Struyven, Dochy and Janssens (2005) indicates that the perception of the assessment – not only the method used by the teacher- exerts a significant influence on how students focus their studying and learning.
Students attitudes towards their assessment would be a part of what Stiggins and Conklin (1992) identified as classroom assessment environment. More specifically to the university environment, students learning could be more influenced by their perceptions of the educational environment than by the very educational practices that are set in place (Entwistle, 1991).
If we accept this premise, students attitudes towards assessment as an important part of their assessment environment, this can be considered as a relevant factor in the learning process in the university environment.
The analysis of how assessment is perceived indicates that, according to their own experiences, students generally understand assessment as a way of accountability rather than a means towards the advancement of their education. Other studies carried out in different contexts have revealed that university students understand assessment simply as a necessary process to get their qualifications (Hawe, 2002); and only serves the purpose of categorizing or classifying students, rather than being utilized to diagnose, motivate and improve their learning (Mclelland, 2001). In rating the assessments carried out in universities, students are unhappy with the lack of feedback from the tests and exams they have to sit (Brown, 2007), and consider the necessity for a higher level of feedback focused on the improvement of their performance (Duffield and Spencer, 2002).
The new configuration of higher education, which stems from the European convergence that resulted in the creation of the EHEA, has provoked a new understanding of the teaching and learning practices in the university environment. Teaching practices based on academic and professional competences, self-learning or the development of learning abilities throughout our lifetime are factors that separate the current teaching methods from the traditional methods on which the transmission of knowledge was based upon. In this new context, changes must also take place in the discipline of assessment (Calderón and Escalera, 2008).
According to this new premise, our focus will be based on the study of the attitudes of students towards the assessment of their learning, trying to rate them based on the new teaching environment that has been born in Spanish universities. Specifically, our objective is the creation of a measuring system to gauge these attitudes, taking into account its technical characteristics, and utilizing it to provide a first description of the attitudes of university students regarding this fundamental aspect of the teaching/learning process.
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