Assessment is key to the learning process in higher education, but what do we mean by the term 'assessment' and why do we assess students?
We assess students for many different and, sometimes, overlapping reasons. In addition, feedback can be used to achieve different purposes (see Figure 1)
Figure 1: Assessment & Feedback Purposes and Some Terminology (National Forum, 2017)
Some of the key reasons and related terminology that were developed by a national expert group are (National Forum, 2017):
For more on this see How do I assess?
Assessment also give staff some feedback on their teaching impact. For more on this see How do I give feedback to students
'to empower students to self-regulate their learning and critically evaluate their performance'
Students also need to engage with the feedback purposes, including engaging in activities that help them to judge and regulate their own work. This is also called: Formative Assessment, and by the different term Assessment AS Learning
For more on this see How do I give feedback to students?
Figure 1 also presents some examples for these approaches in practice and how assessment moves from high stakes to low stakes, where students have more responsibility and become more involved in their decision making (National Forum, 2017).
To help in the design of your assessments, you should consider the key principles that underpin assessment and examine which principles(s) is most important for your assessment. For example, do you want particular emphasis on the validity of the assessment?
The two most common assessment principles are validity and reliability, which are interrelated:
The following are three sets of principles that you should explore. You can see that there is some overlap in these principles:
In addition to being Valid and Reliable:
Assessment and feedback should be supported by enabling policies.
Assessment has most effect when: