Context of Assessment

Assessment practice is not something that can be considered in isolation. Assessment influences, and is influenced by, every aspect of higher education. The learners, the educators, the organisation and even the discipline, impact upon how assessment is designed, delivered, received and regarded. The assessment context may be considered the key to understanding assessment in action. Vocational requirements and institutional policies, as well as the culture of departments and disciplines, shape educators’ views about assessment design. Learners’ prior experiences and backgrounds influence their understanding of feedback and assessment as well as their capacity to successfully engage with assessment tasks. The overall program of study, team processes and learning environments also may mandate how learners experience assessment. The art of developing assessment lies in educators adapting assessment concepts to their local requirements. It is also important to bear in mind that working with a particular context requires interactions with colleagues and learners. Consideration of how and when communication takes place, and with whom, may also promote successful assessment design.

Key assessment considerations

Which of the following attributes needs to be considered when designing assessment in a unit? What specifically about each can be taken into account? How can tensions between different needs be reconciled?