Making assessment work for learning – CRADLE Seminar Series #1 22 Feb 2022: Review by Jessica Lees

CRADLE’s 2022 Seminar Series got off to a brilliant start on 22nd February, when Professor Roseanna Bourke from Massey University shared an engaging presentation on ‘Making assessment work for learning’. Professor Bourke set the scene for the discussion by putting a call out to educators to move their assessment from the instruction paradigm to learning paradigm. To facilitate lifelong learning and foster a strong commitment to self-assessment, educators need to steer students away from reliance of traditional forms of assessment by encouraging creativity and shared control.

Professor Bourke explained that currently there is a strong “backwash effect” whereby student learning is guided by the assessment to come, and further suggested that rather than attempting to swim against the tide of this powerful effect, “why don’t we surf on it?” She proposes that we may use assessment to encourage a deeper approach to learning, and shift students from a currently grade-centric focus towards a learning centered focus. Roseanna emphasizes that the hardest form of assessment is self-assessment, and the only truly sustainable form of assessment exists when students can go on assessing themselves after a course is complete.

One avenue to steer students towards meaningful growth, learning, and development is to take an innovative new collaborative partnership approach to assessment. Fundamental to this partnership is the opportunity for students to develop their own quality criteria as a catalyst to think more deeply about their work. Roseanna shared her experiences trialling this strategy in her teaching, and highlights that through this approach, it was clear that students want assessments that tell us who they are, and to be a celebration of new ways of thinking.

Roseanna’s inspiring presentation was followed by an engaging Q&A, where audience participants reflected on the ideas shared and explored how new assessment might fit into their own contexts. Many dynamic questions were asked, including ‘how do you manage allowing students to pose their own quality criteria when the university structure needs everything defined so far in advance?’ Roseanna suggests that when taking a partnership approach, academics may like to consider developing a two-part rubric – academics to set task criteria (for the university assessment assurance) and then quality criteria designed by students. A key strength of this two-part marking scheme is that the latter draws the markers’ attention to what the student values, rather than solely being based on what the university has predetermined to be most important.

If you are interested to watch or listen to Professor Bourke’s seminar, including the Q&A, please feel free to access the recording via the CRADLE YouTube channel

Don’t forget, CRADLE Seminar Series #2: Re-imagining Exams: How do assessment adjustments impact on inclusion? by CRADLE’s Dr Joanna Tai will be held on 15 March 2022 at 2pm. Be part of the event by registering now!

Category list: News, Seminar Review

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