Why review assessment practice?
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation of assessment for some institutions and caused others to question not only how they do things but whether they are doing the right things?
Assessment and feedback forms a significant element of staff and student workload and many studies have shown that students, in higher education, are less satisfied with assessment and feedback than with any other aspect of the experience1.
This guide will help you determine what good assessment and feedback looks like in your context so you can benchmark existing practice and plan improvement.
Assessment and feedback landscape
Through consultation with universities, a survey and a review of the current literature we gained a picture of the UK assessment and feedback landscape in higher education. View Jisc's assessment and feedback higher education landscape review.
About the examples in this guide
Each of the principles is accompanied by short case studies of implementation.
Where possible we have chosen examples where digital technology has been used to support and enhance good practice.
Previous research found good practice was often difficult to scale up because it required manual intervention or tools that were not interoperable. Our examples show innovative practice delivered at scale and using open standards to facilitate seamless integration with existing tools and administrative systems.
Assessment and feedback: direction of travel
For a number of years assessment and feedback practice has been on a trajectory away from assessment of learning to what is termed assessment for learning.
Key to this has been helping students monitor and regulate their own learning and trying to ensure that any feedback activity feeds forward leading to future improvement.
Current assessment practice increasingly includes activities that could be termed assessment as learning. The very act of undertaking assessment and feedback activities is an essential part of the learning process.
All three aspects of assessment still need to happen but we are thinking differently about the relationship between them.
- Assessment of learning describes the institutional quality assurance processes that lead to students acquiring some form of verified credential.
- Assessment for learning is the overall learning design, ensuring we are assessing the right things at the right time with plenty of formative opportunities to feed forward. This is the cog wheel making everything revolve.
- Assessment as learning is a learning experience where the formative and summative elements work well together. Tasks appear relevant, students can see what they have gained by undertaking the activity, they feel involved in a dialogue about standards and evidence and the continuous development approach helps with issues of stress and workload for staff and students.
Text description for assessment with purpose graphic
- Purple centre - the inner circle represents assessment for learning the institutional quality-assured processes that lead to a qualification.
- The middle cog represents assessment for learning learning design emphasising formative opportunities that feed forward to future improvement.
- The outer circle represents assessment as learning the lived experience of students and staff when active learners contribute to decision-making and are able to monitor and regulate their own learning.
- 1 A 2021 survey by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) asked students what one thing their institution could do to improve the quality of the academic experience. The most common response was ‘improve assessment and feedback’. Neves, J. and Hewitt, R. (2021) Student Academic Experience Survey. Published by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). Available at Student Academic Experience Survey 2021 | Advance HE - www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/student-academic-experience-survey-2021