Assessment and feedback in higher education: considerable room for improvement?

Sambell, Kay (2016) Assessment and feedback in higher education: considerable room for improvement? Student Engagement in Higher Education, 1 (1).

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Assessment exerts a major influence on students’ approaches to study in higher education, so it is important to ensure that it enables students to develop and thrive as learners. Generally speaking, however, the student experience of assessment remains far from positive and assessment has been accused of having damaging effects on student engagement. Mann (2001), for instance, sees assessment as an important mediating factor in determining a student’s relationship to the university. All-too-often, she asserts, it results in alienation rather than engagement, provoking general feelings of compliance, powerlessness and subservience rather than a sense of belonging, enthusiasm, enjoyment and ownership of the learning process. For the last two decades researchers have been vigorously advocating a shift in assessment culture, such that assessment actively promotes learning rather than simply measuring it (see, for example, Brown & Knight, 1994; Birenbaum, 1996; Sambell, McDowell, & Brown, 1997; Black & Wiliam, 1998; Stiggins, 2002). In response to sustained efforts to improve the state of play there is now widespread recognition of the need for approaches to assessment which are focused specifically on stimulating and improving student learning. These are commonly referred to as assessment for learning approaches (Boud & Falchicov, 2006; Price, Carroll, O’Donovan, & Rust, 2011; Sambell, McDowell, & Montgomery, 2013) and many higher education providers have begun to acknowledge them in their learning and teaching strategies.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Student Engagement in Higher Education
Publisher: RAISE
ISSN: 2399-1836
Departments: Faculty of Education, Arts and Business > Institute of Education > Non-Initial Teacher Education
Additional Information: Kay Sambell is Visiting Professor at the University of Cumbria.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2017 15:33
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 21:56


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