New approaches to assessment

However we look at it, a central interest for all learners regarding their learning is to receive feedback on ‘how am I going’? This is something that can occur at any time during the learning process, and often does in the form of feedback from the teacher and peers. What makes this sort of feedback particularly useful is when it is (a) timely, (b) objective and (c) relevant to the learner. Traditional, end of unit or end of year assessment approaches, while providing an objective measure of success, fail to do so in a timely fashion, providing feedback at a time when it may be used to inform next steps in learning. Similarly, generic feedback on a topic or assignment provided to the whole class may be timely and objective, but fail to be relevant to the specific circumstances of an individual learner.

We need to be actively pursuing new assessment processes that cater for a learning-centred approach in our education system. Examples of such initiatives that are gaining steady interest here are student-owned e-portfolios and the awarding of badges for ‘chunks’ of learning. These approaches provide a flexible mechanism for recognising achievements that can be orchestrated and managed by the learner.

We must also taking account of the impact of learning analytics to provide formative and summative information in a responsive manner. This feedback is inevitably very timely and relevant for the learner, making next steps planning and targeted responses more achievable.