A view of the assessment and feedback landscape

The Assessment and Feedback programme has recently published a report which synthesises the baseline reviews of 8 institutional change projects. The purpose of the baseline process was to gain a picture of the current state-of-play of assessment and feedback processes and practices within these organisations and to provide a starting point against which to evaluate the effectiveness of technology interventions in bringing about change.

Collectively these reports paint a picture of a sector facing some significant issues, many of which will come as no surprise to many. For example:
• practice remains largely resistant to change despite pockets of excellence
• responsibility for assessment and feedback is highly devolved within institutions and there are considerable variations in practice
• formal documentation does not usually reflect the reality of assessment and feedback practices
• workload and time constraints mean that academic staff have little space to discover new approaches and innovate
• assessment approaches often do not reflect the reality of the work place and the way professionals undertake formative development during their careers;
• despite significant investment in the technical infrastructure to support assessment and feedback, resource efficiencies are not being delivered due to localised variations in underlying processes

These are just some of the findings of the report which goes into more detail around key themes such as: assessment and feedback strategy and policy; education principles as a framework for change; approaches to and types of assessment and feedback; employability; learner engagement; supporting processes (e.g. quality, submission and marking); staff development; and accessibility.
In terms of addressing these issues, “it is to be hoped that the assessment and feedback programme, by supporting some examples of large-scale change and by developing effective channels for sharing lessons learned will serve to build roads and bridges between these two provinces. There is a sense that the sector is approaching something of a tipping point where a combination of the various pressures for change and the growing body of evidence for the benefits of new approaches will deliver the momentum for a significant shift.”

Thanks to Dr Gill Ferrell for producing the synthesis report.

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