We are under pressure to retain more of our students – I suspect the same is true across the sector. But one of the reasons cited for student drop-out is over-assessment. Is this reasonable?
Well, maybe. If we accept that assessment drives the ‘hidden curriculum’, then we more we assess, the bigger the curriculum that our students experience. And if we don’t make sufficient study time available for students to complete assessed tasks, then we are clearly not being very fair to them.
But yet ‘little and often’ assessment can motivate students and keep them on track. My experience is that, especially in a distance-learning environment, when there are large gaps between assignments, you no longer know if students are still engaging (though tracking of VLE activity and learning analytics can help) and I think this is when we lose students.
..and just to further complicate the situation, I have heard different people say, of the same module, that it over-assesses (because there is ‘too much assessment’) and that there is insufficient assesment (because there aren’t enough exams)…
I think it all depends on what assessment is for. Back to that old tension – is it assessment of learning or assessment for learning? And do our students have the same understanding as us as to the nature and purpose of assessment?