Universities across the globe are attempting to change assessment practices to address challenges in student engagement and achievement and to respond to a global employability agenda demanding evidence of a broader range of skills and competencies. In the UK this has acquired urgency given the shift of higher education over the last 20 years from the prerogative of an elite minority to mass participation in a highly diversified market system. Integral to this interrogation of objectives for assessment is the identified need to develop and improve academics’ assessment practice. Strategies frequently focus on attendance at formal Continuous Professional Development events and/or implementation of institutional blueprints.
This book showcases how scholarship as part of academics’ practice can be part of an academic toolkit for change that expands awareness and knowledge of the purposes and effects of the pedagogy of assessment. The case studies – ranging from assessment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), to assessment design for students whose first language is not English, to the effectiveness of peer learning to support academic integrity and programme-level assessment strategies – are framed by an introduction that explores a ‘communities of practice’ approach to the institution-wide improvement of assessment. It argues – through a case study from The Open University (OU) – that academics’ professional expertise is best deepened through participation in authentic activities of teaching and scholarship. The discussion identifies what is involved in such an approach including the role of an enabling principles-based framework, the constraints on implementation, and the implications for leaders of teaching and learning.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Open Learning journal.
Table of Contents
Editorial Simon Bell
Introduction – Developing academics’ assessment practices in open, distance and e-learning: an institutional change agenda Jessica Evans, Sally Jordan and Freda Wolfenden
1. Assessment worlds colliding? Negotiating between discourses of assessment on an online open course Laura Hills and Jonathan Hughes
2. Paragogy and flipped assessment: experience of designing and running a MOOC on research methods Yenn Lee and J. Simon Rofe
3. ‘I understood the words but I didn’t know what they meant’: Japanese online MBA students’ experiences of British assessment practices Mark Fenton-O’Creevy and Carien van Mourik
4. Case study: what supports students to improve their grades? Sandy Sieminski, Julie Messenger and Sam Murphy
5. Using collaboration to foster academic integrity Lynda Prescott
6. The introduction and refinement of the assessment of digitally recorded audio presentations Stefanie Sinclair
7. Designing and developing a programme-focused assessment strategy: a case study James Brunton, Mark Brown, Eamon Costello and Elaine Walsh
Jessica Evans is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at OU, Milton Keynes, UK. Among her research interests is the systemic and psychoanalytic understanding of organisations including leadership of teaching and learning, and the emotional aspects of social policy. She has expertise in the design of assessment for qualifications and in developing institutional assessment policies. She has led a number of OU teaching and learning change projects and directs one of the outputs of the OU’s New Models of Assessment and Tuition project, the Assessment Hub, which provides resources to improve assessment practices and support academics’ professional development.
Sally Jordan is Professor of Physics Education and Head of the Department of Physical Sciences at OU, Milton Keynes, UK. She has wide-ranging interests in assessment and feedback, in particular in factors that influence student engagement with computer-marked assessment and computer-generated feedback. She has written a review of e-assessment and a number of articles on the use of automatically marked short-answer free-text questions. She also has research interests in student misunderstandings in physics and mathematics and in demographic differences in attainment in physics.
Freda Wolfenden is Professor of Education and International Development in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Languages at OU, Milton Keynes, UK. Her expertise is in pedagogy, professional learning and the potential of technology to support learning. Freda has led a number of large-scale, award-winning teacher education projects in multiple contexts characterised by their innovative use of digital technologies and open content (Open Educational Resources and MOOCs). She was academic director of the OU’s New Models of Assessment and Tuition project, a three-year programme aiming to improve assessment practices across the university.