Early Dialogue to Inform the Theme

Early dialogue assisted in gathering the sector’s views and experiences of their Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning practices. In particular, there were discussions with the National Forum Board, National Forum Associates and during the Summit, the National Seminar Series and the Network of Network activities.

The National Forum Summit (December 2015) marked the sectoral launch of the enhancement theme. An initial brainstorm and dialogue on assessment was commenced at this event. During this and other National Forum activities, the following questions were posed to different groups:

National Forum Summit Plenary Session, n=200 participants (December 2015)

  • What are the three main things that you would like to change about assessment in your institution? Do you think that students can be more involved in the planning and delivery of better assessment practices? What is the future vision?

National Forum’s Associates Meeting, n=30 participants (April 2016)

  • What are the current issues in assessment and suggestions for the theme?

National Seminar Series, n=48 seminars reports (Jan-Dec 2015).

  • What are the key topics arising from the seminar series?

Based on these events and reports, the following ideas emerged that helped to inform the theme:

  • The desire for enhanced coordination and management of assessment: including developing a programme rather than module assessment perspective;
  • A need for integration of assessment methods (design)
  • A reduction in the volume of assessment (efficiency; design)
  • Greater range of assessment methods which are authentic and creative, including the integration of technology for assessment (validity of assessment methods)
  • Enhanced feedback to students: emphasis on assessment FOR learning
  • Greater involvement by students in assessment (more emphasis on AS learning); engagement of students as co-creators
  • Building staff confidence in assessment and feedback changes
  • Relevant assessment policies and administrative

International networking

These early ideas were presented at the International Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) seminar on Transforming Assessment and Feedback in Higher Education on a wider scale: The challenge of change at institutional level, in Manchester, June 2016, entitled Engaging in Sectoral Enhancement of Assessment: An Irish Perspective (O’Neill, Maguire, Noonan, 2016).

The paper also reported on the design and early steps in sectoral transformation of assessment being led by the National Forum.  Participation at this event offered the opportunity to gain from and connect with current practice and research on assessment.  In addition, the international focus of the network provided an opportunity to network with a number of key researchers on higher education assessment including, for example: Professors Sue Bloxham, Peter Boyd, David Boud, and David Carless.

The National Forum Assessment Seminar Series: (2015-2016)

The National Seminar Series (2015-2016) was driven by the assessment theme. 48 Assessment related seminars were delivered across Ireland through-out the year. These discussions and activities assist in informing the challenges and enablers in Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning and helped to identify experts and best practices in the assessment across the sector. The seminars included, for example:

  • Rethinking the dissertation as a way to develop and assess student research and enterprise skills in STEM disciplines
  • Assessment practices for online and blended learning
  • Negotiating the relationship between assessment and learning: Tackling the tensions between competing assessment purposes within the third-level sector
  • Workshop Simulation Game
  • Assessing the Impact of Cultural Diversity Education: How to evaluate learning from development and intercultural education
  • Doctoral Outcomes Assessment
  • Aligning Instruction, Assessment, and Curriculum Across Inter- Disciplinary Programmes
  • Innovation Assessment Opportunities in Enterprise LMS Implementations

The National Forum Assessment Seminar Series: (2016-2017)

Building on the dialogue to date, the 2016-2017 Seminar Series will further interrogate the questions emerging for the sector in relation to assessment of/for and as learning. In particular, the seminars should address the following questions:

  • How can students become more engaged with assessment enhancement?
  • How can academic departments, staff and programme leaders be supported to collaborate around assessment enhancement?
  • Are there policies that need to underpin assessment enhancement?
  • How can the curriculum and the learning environment be designed to enhance assessment?

There will be 30 seminars in this series between November 1st 2016– June 30th 2017. See The National Forum Assessment Seminar Series: (2016-2017). (Note call closed on 6th October, 2016).

The Network and Disciplinary Funding (2016)

In order to explore assessment challenges and enablers across different disciplines, the 2016 Network and Discipline Funding projects were required to focus on building an evidence-base to support decisions around Assessment OF/FOR/AS Learning and to develop staff knowledge and understanding of assessment.  13 projects were funded and will be reported on in February 2017.