Following from the first enhancement theme – Teaching for Transitions – The National Forum’s next enhancement theme for 2016 was – Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning – This enhancement theme placed a special focus on assessment in Irish higher education. It supported an enhancement approach to assessment, in order to ensure that Ireland adopts and promotes innovative, engaging, collaborative, learner-oriented and integrated approaches to assessment that take account of the complex dynamics and requirements of higher education.
In particular, this enhancement theme explored the purposes of assessment initially defining these terms as:
- Assessment OF Learning: completing assessment to demonstrate learning
- Assessment FOR Learning: using assessment to give feedback on teaching and student learning
- Assessment AS Learning: student empowerment and engagement to become a better learner.
The overarching aims of the enhancement theme were:
- To identify current Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning practices, strategies and policies across the sector and across different disciplines in order to understand the current national and international assessment context in higher education
- To support the shift from Assessment OF to Assessment FOR and Assessment AS Learning, in order to support the engagement of students in their assessment and adopt a partnership approach with students in key aspects of assessment
- To stimulate general and more focused conversations with different stakeholders in order to develop awareness, analyse needs, inform and enhance Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning
- To develop a clearer set of declared principles underpinning Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning for the Irish higher education context
- To identify enablers, opportunities, issues and barriers to the transformative enhancement of Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning
- To identify and share good practices and policies to support a transformative enhancement of Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning, in particular to consider the potential that technology might bring to enhance approaches to assessment.
It consulted widely with the sector on assessment issues, in particular those around the national understanding of the purposes of assessment. Although there were initial aims and structure to the theme, the emphasis on these became more focused following sectoral conversations and other data gathered during this period. Therefore, the enhancement theme was divided into the following overlapping phases (Click here for ‘Assessment Theme Timeline’):
- Informing the theme (Phase 1)
- Building the evidence (Phase 2)
- Building Capacity through Conversations (Phase 3)
- Reflection and Re-Focus (Phase 4)
- Sharing of Good Practices and Policies (Phase 5)
- Monitoring and Evaluation (Phase 6)
In probing the individual differences posed by Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning, the 1st National Forum Assessment Insight, Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning: Continuing the Debate and Creating a Focus explores the tension between these concepts and goes on to identify a range of enablers that could usefully drive significant changes to assessment thinking and practice. It also provides readers with a number of key questions to drive further discussion and debate on assessment and suggests a framework for structuring the assessment enhancement theme (see Figure 1)
Figure 1: A Framework for Structuring the Assessment Theme.