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While the viewpoint of the key stakeholders may differ, assessment is a vital component of any educational programme. For students, assessment shapes and determines the focus of their learning. Lecturers view assessment as an important part of learning, but will also focus on other aspects such as module content. Assessment provides a lecturer with feedback on the effectiveness of their instruction. The policy maker views assessment as a tool to measure the success of instruction in achieving learning outcomes. Assessment can also trigger warning signals for programme teams within the online distance education context. Due to the lack of contact between students and the programme team, early indicators can alert administrators to ‘at risk’ students.
In 2012 a project with the aim of improving assessment writing in an online BA (Hons) in Humanities began with the development of a guide for designing and writing assessments for online distance education students. In 2013 the appropriate assessment types required to provide students with reasonable learning opportunities to achieve the programme learning outcomes, as well as module learning outcomes, were identified. This resulted in the creation of an assessment matrix, for the programme’s modular structure, which provided a detailed overview of the appropriate assessment types from a programme level perspective. Currently, to progress the project, an online course and associated training workshops are being designed for assessment writers.
This paper examines the process involved in: the creation of the guide; identifying the appropriate assessment types for the achievement of the learning outcomes; the development of the assessment matrix and; the ongoing development of an online course and training workshops. The paper also details the lessons learned from the project thus far and outlines the future plans that have emerged following the implementation of the assessment matrix.