Pixelated assessment

I’m indebted to the colleague who told me about Cees van der Vleuten’s keynote at the EARLI Assessment SIG Conference in Madrid last August (http://www.earli-sig1-conference.org/cees-van-der-vleuten.php). I should perhaps point out that I am reporting third hand, so I may have got it all wrong. All that I can claim is that I am reporting on my own reaction to what I think my colleague said about what she thinks Professor van der Vleuten said…

I understand that he was talking about the assessment of professional competence, which is very important. The point that really grabbed my attention though was that since we need professionals to be able to do their job day after day, in a reliable fashion, ‘one off’ assessment, at the end of a programme of study isn’t really appropriate. Of course, one off assessment is always open to challenge – you will do less well if you have a headache on the day of the exam; you will do better if you happen to have revised the ‘right’ things. But there has been something of a backlash against continuous assessment recently, most obviously in the renewed emphasis placed on exams at the expense of coursework in UK schools (courtesy of governmental policy). Perhaps with more justification, some argue that you should assess outcomes at the end of a module rather than progress towards those outcomes and I have argued (e.g. here) that summative continuous assessment can lead to confusion over its purpose (is it formative or summative; is it for learning or of learning?).

Professor van der Vleuten’s keynote suggested that we should use ‘little and often’ continuous assessment that is very low stakes, perhaps with the stakes increasing as the module progresses – so that a student’s overall assessment record builds up slowly, in the same way that pixels build up to make a picture. Pixelated assessment. Nice!


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1 Response to Pixelated assessment

  1. Joe says:

    sounds a lot like competency-based education which is often just used as a buzz word in the states but a few institutions are doing pretty well at establishing programs WGU.edu, SNHU.edu, etc.

    Loved the caveat with in a caveat intro 😉

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