Context > Learning environment

The learning environment has a significant effect upon assessment processes. The space and delivery mode of the course all impact on the types of assessments. For a purely online course, the Learning Management System may place boundaries around what is possible; and for a face-to-face course, the simple availability of space for students to conduct assessment activities such as seminars or debates will also dictate the types of assessment processes possible. Access to technologies such as video can be used to enhance assessment through allowing learners to conduct a range of different tasks. The staff–learner ratio is also a significant consideration. A large unit with many tutors affords different kinds of feedback processes. If many educators are engaged in formative and summative assessment, thought must be given to teacher development. These environmental factors can constrain the educator, but they also represent an opportunity to optimise the available resources.

Assessment considerations:

  • In what types of learning environment will students access, conduct and submit their assessments?
  • If there are tutors, how will the tutors access learners’ assessments, and how will they provide them with feedback?
  • What are the benefits of the learning environments for students and how can these be maximised within the assessment processes? For example, what tools are available to students and educators within these learning environments to make artefacts, observe/record tasks or communicate?
  • What are the limitations of the learning environments for the students and how can these be minimised within the assessment processes?
  • What are the benefits and limitations of the learning environments for the educators?

Also refer to:

Tasks > Activities which drive learning

Feedback processes > Types of feedback information

Educator experiences

Distance learning with peer teaching

Our lectures are video-streamed but they meet in local tute groups with local tutors. One novel element of the assessment for the third year subject is peer teaching. So, students themselves give four facilitated tutorials, and they’re not giving a presentation sitting down, they’re running the tutorial as if they are tutors. Peer teaching is not particularly ground-breaking as a strategy, but I thought it would be an effective way to get these third year students engaged, particularly with content. And, another good by-product is that it reduces the marking load. – Arts lecturer

Online peer feedback

Our study days are ‘blocked’ so that there are periods of intensive activity followed by time devoted to assessments. One of the things we’ve found is that our learners struggle with doing their complex assessments without any kind of feedback. Partly it’s a feeling of isolation, but it’s also missing the real opportunity they have to learn with their peers. We ask them to provide structured feedback on two draft assessments by peers. This does a lot of things at once. It provides them with experience in providing written feedback, which is a good skill for educators. It allows them to critically engage with the subject material through analysing their peers’ work. It also gives the feedback recipient a range of two other opinions on their work. – Education lecturer