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Assessment for learning

Options:     Print Version - Assessment for learning , part 7 Print view

A whole institution approach

Assessment is a vastly complex subject, involving the whole institution and not just the individual lecturer. Joughin and Macdonald (2004) recognize this and propose a four-tier model:

  • Level 1: the actual experience of assessment at the modular level, and how the teacher interprets the requirements of the module and translates them into learning tasks.
  • Level 2: the immediate context of the module (the programme) and the teacher (the department). Influencing factors include whether the department supports good practice, innovation, and staff development.
  • Level 3: the institution. What are its policies, how does it allocate resources, what is its teaching and learning strategy? Is good teaching rewarded? What about the attitude to ICT?
  • Level 4: the overall context within which the institution operates, including government bodies and funding.

Major changes, such as the introduction of new technologies, inevitably need to be managed at an institutional level, as they will require considerable investment not only of financial resources but also of staff training. The REAP website contains a number of useful papers on how to manage institutional change.

This article has looked at ways in which the assessment process can better support learning, by introducing more formative assessment, providing feedback, helping students regulate their own learning, and using varied and imaginative methods. Much of the impetus behind the drive for better assessment has come from the UK's concern about standards, hence many of the examples are British. However, the lessons are universal: by paying attention to the process as well as the end result, assessment can really be for, as much as of, learning.