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Assessment continues to innovate at AHE

Posted 15th August 2013

The fourth Assessment in HE Conference took place in Birmingham on 26-27th June 2013. The conference has grown into an intentionally recognised meeting, with around 160 delegates attending from around the world. Maple Conference Centre provided an ideal location for delegates to follow up oral, poster and keynote presentations in an informal atmosphere allowing constructive, lively discussions regarding assessment practice. eSTEeM supported a number of Open University contributions at the conference, including a Master Class workshop, presented by Sally Jordan and Tim Hunt, a presentation by Janet Haresnape on collaborative student assessment and I presented some interesting findings, based on a project on S141 and S142 with Diane Butler and Sally Jordan, on student engagement with formative thresholded assessment.

The conference opened with the Master Classes, and in addition to Sally and Tim’s, there was one on Assessment for learning, by Liz McDowell, Kay Sambell and Catherine Montgomery, which focused on using a framework of six areas to consider assessment. Examples of practice included asking students to produce guides/leaflets for fellow students (emphasising authenticity), setting a short oral examination (high stakes areas), setting collaborative poster tasks (informal feedback) and including drafts (formal feedback).

Parallel oral presentation sessions took place throughout the two days, featuring an array of topics such as how student perceptions, like fear or the concept of 'it's not perfect, I can't hand the work in yet' impact on assessment engagement. There were also sessions on developing assessment frameworks, both within institutions and for more widespread dissemination. A wide variety of assessment strategies were shared, such as ways of including collaborative student assessment, as well as sessions on developing standards of assessors.

The first keynote speech was presented by Professor Margaret Price (Oxford Bookes University) focusing on assessment literacy. The presentation looked at the drivers for institutions and used student perceptions of assessment to develop an understanding of how HE can use assessment more effectively, such as promoting an academic community for students, providing creative assessment but bearing in mind the student experience within a programme of study.

The final keynote presentation explored the use of oral assessment in a variety of disciplines at the University of Queensland, presented by Associate Professor Gordon Joughin. Both students' and assessors' perceptions of using oral assessment were provided to support the proposal that using speech in assessment provided a more involved, albeit more anxious, student integrated and overall deeper method of assessment.

Further presentations provided a mix of practical studies from a variety of UK and international institutions (USA, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Thailand to name a few). Use of technologies was explored, such as e-assessment, including a poster presentation by Tim Hunt of the OU as well as novel ways to use free software, such as Story board for students to produce audio-visual presentations for assessment. Further poster presentations continued the themes of assessment for learning, marking and academic standards and transitions in assessment.

Overall, the conference provided two days of thought provoking ideas on assessment through presentations and sharing of good practice. Our eSTEeM contributions generated a large degree of interest and pleasing positive feedback.

Dr Lynda Cook, Faculty of Science, 

To view poster please click here. (PDF)