Assessment for learning and motivation

Pauline M. Ross, Susan L. Siegenthaler, Deidre A. Tronson

Abstract


Assessment is a fundamental driver of what and how students learn. Originally assessment tasks were seen as a straightforward measurement tool; in recent times, however, educators have realised the potential to use this tool in more powerful ways and issues of quality assessment and student motivation have been discussed within current pedagogical theories. When assessment tasks are embedded in the teaching and learning framework, there is a greater chance that students will achieve the intended learning outcomes and be enriched by the experience. A diversity of assessment strategies is used in the teaching of Biology at the University of Western Sydney. These strategies include self reflective and self-evaluative exercises, pre and post quizzes for lectures, writing of dialogue, creating cartoons to explain concepts as well as the more traditional strategies of mid term assessments and summative theory and practical assessments. The aims are to encourage deep understanding and knowledge and develop metacognitive skills. A key feature of these assessment tasks has been their design. The setting of explicit quality criteria, and guidelines for marking and feedback, has involved students and teaching assistants. To evaluate the success of these teaching, learning and assessment strategies, focus groups and surveys of students and teaching assistants were done in 2005 and 2006. Students identified that an important feature of the teaching, learning and assessment strategies was the personal investment by lecturers and teaching assistants.

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