Assessment Careers: Enhancing learning pathways through assessment


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Presenation from a Centre for Distance Education seminar 'Writing course materials and formative assessment for successful flexible learning', held at the University of London in June 2014.

Conducted by Gwyneth Hughes, Reader in Higher Education, Institute of Education, CDE Fellow.

Audio from the session is available at

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  • Assessment careers from Bloomer and Hodkinson’s concept of learning careers.
    Socially situated.
    Learners bring with them previous experiences of assessment and dispostions to learn.
    In an assessment career we encourage learners to build on the past for the future.
    AR to encourage staff and students to think longer term about feedback beyond current piece of work.
    Avoid fragmented modular approach.
    Present early findings.
  • Assessment for learning as well as measuring learning. Importance of feedback.
    How many have mainly exams. How many give feedabck to studnets on exam performanace in practice exams and in final exams?
  • Studnets often have little idea how they are progressing or that they are progressing at all except by what they can see from grades. May not show up if marks do not improve or vary but especially struggling students may have learnt a lot and can be encouraged by ipsative feedback and or grades.
    Nb these could be formative assignments –practice assignments
  • Handout of IOE generic draft and final coversheets. Students need guidance and to appreciate that this will help them. Tutors need to draw on past feedback and their response to past feedback.
  • red distance learning Plus related programmes that share modules
  • And the form helped them look back at previous feedback and response to it:
    But, other students expected tutors to give them feedback and viewed the form as a bureaucratic device to help assessors rather than a tool for reflection.

  • The use of student feedback response sheets to help students engage with feedback received a mixed reception. Some staff found it helped them to write feedback.

    However there was also agreement that many students were not aware of how to use feedabck in this way.
  • Making feedback transparent and accessible
  • Assessment Careers: Enhancing learning pathways through assessment

    1. 1. Assessment Careers: Enhancing Learning Pathways through Assessment Dr Gwyneth Hughes
    2. 2. The importance of assessment “Assessment procedures have a major impact on students’ approaches to learning” (Ramsden, 2003) “Learning is so driven by assessment that the form and nature of assessment often swamps the effect of any other aspect of the curriculum” (Boud,1990, p. 103) “Students learn what they think will be tested” (Biggs and Tang, 2011)2
    3. 3. Some current problems with feedback • Lack of learner engagement with and understanding of feedback (Lizzio & Wilson, 2008) feedback given feedback received and acted upon • Generally, the feedback ‘fed back’ more than ‘forward’ so feedback does not encourage dialogue (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2005). • Feedback rarely scrutinised, when it is practice is inconsistent.
    4. 4. • Lack of continuity of feedback assignment 1 assignment 2 assignment 3 • Critique and advice are content focused on the current assignment. Often too late to be helpful. • Feedback on generic and discipline skills is often lacking. • Feedback is not stored and readily accessed over time. • Lack of information about progress, but this could be motivating (Hughes, 2014). .4
    5. 5. Assessment Careers • 3 year project funded by JISC with the aim of using technology to enhance assessment and feedback • Project video 5
    6. 6. Assessment Careers Project • Year 1: Baseline reporting and feedback analysis • Year 2 (2012/13): Five programmes pilot a Student Response form (cover sheet) • Year 3 ( 2013/14) Institutional implementation including a Moodle feedback reporting tool and Feedback policy Assessment Careers: Institute of Education website:
    7. 7. Student Feedback Response Forms Thinking about the feedback on your draft (or previous) assignment, please indicate what the key points were: For each point state what action you took to respond to this feedback in preparing the draft/final version of your assignment. Your response will help your assessor identify the progress you have made and suggest further action to help you develop. 7
    8. 8. Pilot programmes Pilot 1 MA Education, Health Promotion and International Development Pilot 2 MRes in Educational and Social Research Pilot 3 MA Clinical Education Pilot 4 MA/MSc Psychology of Education Pilot 5 PGCE Primary Approx. 400 students and 30 staff in total.
    9. 9. Student responses I like being able to ask the tutor quite directly the area that need work and [what] to focus on (MRes student) Particularly as I'd taken a long break between this and the previous module so it actually made me go back and consider feedback from earlier assignments.(MA in Health Education student) I just created a list of the things that I changed and it didn’t take me long but I did do it after I’d changed everything, I didn’t do it as I went along. I thought it was more of an exercise I’m going to hand my essay in and I need to do this. (PGCE student) 9
    10. 10. Staff responses I found it easier but not necessarily quicker to provide the feedback because I had a sense that I was providing feedback to someone about something rather than on a piece of written work... it brought it to life in some way. I have endeavoured to be still more specific about what the student should change to further improve their assignment and in giving examples about how they might change the assignment in this way. (PGCE tutor) It seemed that many students needed to be taught how to use feedback, what it could be for, and the role it could play in the learning process.(MRes tutor)10
    11. 11. Greater transparency over feedback and assessment processes in general 11
    12. 12. References Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. 2007. The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research 77 no. 1: 81-112. Hughes, G. (2014) Ipsative Assessment: Motivation through marking progress Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Lizzio, A. & Wilson, K. 2008. Feedback on assessment: student’s perceptions of quality and effectiveness. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 33 no.3:263-275. Nicol, D. & Macfarlane,-Dick, D. 2006. Formative assessment and self- regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31 no. 2: 199-218. 13