Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Phasing Assessment to Help the Student Learn

In "Phases of assessment" educational designer discusses dividing a course up into three phases with difference assessment to suit the development of the student's understanding. For a typical 13 week university course, the phases are:
  1. Assessment for transition: weeks 1-4, to get the students ready to study with tasks that do not contribute to the final grade (or not much).
  2. Assessment for development: from week 5, more prating assessment exercises which can contribute to final marks.
  3. Assessment for achievement: Weeks 7 to 13, where the bulk of the summative assessment is contributing the bulk of final grades.
This is a useful analysis, but spending the first four weeks of the course in transition seems a long time. In my ICT Sustainability course I do the transition in the first two weeks, mostly to see if the students can write and can cope with e-learning. Then the assessment is for development each week, to ease them into a mid semester assignment (worth 38%).

Thirteen weeks is a very long time and if the assessment for achievement was left until the end, a student would have difficulty seeing the connection with the development. Also it would make me very nervous, if most of the assessment was at the end of the course. Software developers and other project managers are trained to place "milestones" so that there are no unpleasant surprises at the end of a project. As a student I avoid courses which have large end of semester assessments (and I would not design a course that way).

Deborah refers us to "Assessment in First Year University: A model to manage transition" (Taylor, J. A. 2008).

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