There is more to assessment than providing helpful information to improve performance in the current unit, and in generating marks and grades. Assessment, if well designed, also acts to build studentsâ€™ capacity to make judgements beyond immediate tasks or learning outcomes. It does this through developing their assessment literacy (how assessment operates and how it can be utilised for learners) and their own self-assessment capabilities. It is important that a learner not only be able to do something, but that they know they can do it and thus deploy such an understanding to useful ends beyond the course. Assessment for learning beyond the unit is often called sustainable assessment. It focuses on developing learnersâ€™ capacity to identify appropriate standards and apply them to their own work and that of others. It also focuses on their ability to self-regulate, that is, to monitor their own work, identify what they need to do and to seek and utilise feedback from a variety of sources.
- What will completion of each assessment activity contribute to studentsâ€™ ability to make judgements about their own learning?
- What capacities does each task build that will help students with future work involving different subject matter and/or learning outcomes?
- How will learners be able to calibrate their own judgements; that is, know whether they have a realistic view of their own work?
- How will the tasks enable learners to track their own development over time and identify what they will need to focus on in future study and practice?
- Will the tasks give learners practice in making judgements about the work of others and communicating these effectively?
- How will learners be able to identify the standards and criteria to apply to their own work? If these are provided to them, how will they be able to make sense of them in ways that will influence what they do?
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I reckon my best contribution to students is to help them develop their own capacity to judge their work. One of the ways I do this is through firstly getting the class together to identify in their own words what they think are appropriate criteria for judging an assignment. Then, I turn these into an assignment attachment sheet which they complete and hand in alongside their assignment. In it they have to spell out in what ways their assignment does and does not meet these criteria. When I return the assignments I focus most, not so much on what they could or couldnâ€™t do well, but on areas in which they had the least insight into their own work. If they are blind to their own deficiencies this is a much more serious problem that needs attending to than whether they got something right or not. â€“ Education lecturer
I assigned the students into groups of three to four into the learning management system and asked them each to upload a scenario theyâ€™ve written for peer review. I provided a review framework and a feedback template. Everyone has to comment on at least two other scenarios. Then they can choose to integrate this feedback into a revised version for their summative assessment. In their portfolio, I asked them to reflect on the benefit of reviewing their peersâ€™ work and how judging othersâ€™ work affected their understanding of writing scenarios. â€“ Health sciences lecturer
Assessment Futures www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/teaching-and-learning/assessment-futures/overviewÂ is a website devoted to assessment for learning in the longer term. It provides a strong rationale for such assessment and is populated with a large number of examples of assessment tasks from different disciplines that show ways of incorporating it alongside assessment for other purposes.