Integrating assessment in higher education for student learning

Year: 2013

Author: Vu, Thuy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Recent changes in our social, political and economic situation creates an increasing pressure on higher education to explore ways in which it can effectively promote student learning for a changing world. Given assessment can drive student learning, renewed interest is being directed to assessment and ways to use assessment to enhance student learning. However, studies have primarily focused on discrete aspects of assessment that can be utilised for student learning such as use of feedback, incorporation of practice into assessment, or employment of participative assessment. As interest in enhancing student learning increases, there is a need to explore a more holistic approach to assessment that integrates multiple aspects of assessment for learning enhancement.
This paper seeks to address this need by drawing together the literature to synthesise ways to integrate assessment so as to promote student learning more effectively. These include integrating the formative with summative purpose of assessment, integrating assessment with the learning that students are engaged in, and integrating the assessment task with real world practice.
To illustrate how assessment can be integrated in a higher education context, the paper reported a model of integrating assessment that was used in a third-year undergraduate engineering course in an Australian university. The paper then examined students’ experience of this assessment model to identify aspects of integrating assessment they considered as enhancing their learning. A cohort of 28 students working under the mentorship of the course coordinator gave their consent and participated in the study. Data were collected from two student questionnaires before and after the use of the assessment in the course, and three self-elected individual student interviews. Empirical data shed light on strategies to integrate assessment in a way that students find it beneficial for their learning, and implications for higher education more generally.