Understanding more about the close relationship between assessment, feedback and effective learning is the first step towards assessment practices that empower rather than inhibit learning. Technology offers a new perspective through which this relationship can be explored. Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (2010)
JISC opening statement cites the work of a number of educationists for the justified use of assessment because of the “relationship between learning, assessment and feedback” becoming “more widely understood over the last decade”. (JISC e-Learning Team, 2010)
Recognising that a learning program that encompasses the use of self monitoring and self regulation is the way forward, giving a greater depth and more effective learning and that the use of technology will play an important role in that. The latter being facilitated by the greater ownership of laptops, tablet and handhelds. (JISC e-Learning Team, 2010)
Justification for the enhancement of assessment and feedback was initiated by a study carried out by the National Student Survey in which their finding stated “consistently lower levels of satisfaction with assessment and feedback than with other aspects of the higher education experience” (JISC e-Learning Team, 2010)
What is assessment?
The term ‘assessment’, (Brown, et al., 1997)comes from the Latin ‘ad sedere’, which means to sit down beside. Assessment is formally defined as a measure of performance (Gagne, et al., 2005)
Assessment can be subdivided in to Formative and Summative. Summative is often used as a tool at the end of a course and used to grade a student and often referred to as the “assessment of learning”. Whilst formative is carried out throughout the course and is seen as a tool used to aid students and tutors by providing constructive feedback and often referred to as “assessment for learning”.
What is Effective Assessment
“Effective assessment and feedback can be defined as a practice that equips learners to study and perform to their best advantage in the complex disciplinary fields of their choice, and to progress with confidence and skill as lifelong learners, without adding to the assessment burden on academic staff. “ (JISC e-Learning Team, 2010)
Technology, although still under-utilised in assessment and feedback practices, offers considerable potential for the achievement of these aims (JISC e-Learning Team, 2010). However Computer aided learning (CAL) can help with effective assessment, take for example the use of multi-choice questions embedded within a LMS such as Moodle. Assessments can be taken, marked, feedback given and at the same time enhancing learning and reducing the work load of the tutor fulfilling the criteria outline above. It is effective in the fact that feedback given is immediate, direct and can quickly dispel misconceptions or common mistakes, therefore used in a formative sense.
Students’ answers can be analyses quickly by the tutor, thus enabling the tutor to identify intervention strategies or modify curriculum content at an early stage, thus improving course content and level of achievement.
Technology and examples of use.
Implementation of ‘Knowledge Surveys’ using Moodle (LMS) and Feedback Survey, across part of the Sixth Form in a Further Education College in the North West of the UK.
The rationale behind this project was to implement an online recording of a student’s level of understanding and knowledge of a topic prior to learning and post learning. From individual feedback, design and guidance on the next stage of progression could be formulated. It was based on the practice of using ‘Knowledge Surveys’ both in a formative and summative mode but predominantly as a formative assessment tool.
(Wirth and Perkins 2005) stated their belief that they help students learn, help faculties improve their classrooms, and aid departments and programs as they explore new curricula or pedagogic content.
JISC summarised their report by referring to the ESCAPE project carried out by the University of Hertfordshire, concluding with the following:-
Good assessment for learning…
- Engages students with the assessment criteria
- Supports personalised learning
- Ensures feedback leads to improvement
- Focuses on student development
- Stimulates dialogue
- Considers student and staff effort
A summary that I believe fits well in the implementation of an online aided Knowledge Survey.
Brown, G., Bull, J. & Pendlebury, M., 1997. Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education. London: Routledge.
Gagne, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C. & Keller, J., 2005. Principles of Instructional Design.. 5th ed. Belmont , Ca: Thomson Wadsworth.
JISC e-Learning Team, 2010. Effective Assessment in a Digital Age, London: JISC.
Perkins, D. & Writh, K., 2005. Knowledge Surveys: Applications and Results. [Online]
Available at: http://serc.carleton.edu/files/NAGTWorkshops/assess/knowledgesurvey/small_perkins_p.pdf
[Accessed 26 November 2012].