Do innovative assessment methods encourage students to focus on the processes of learning?
University of Worcester
Objectives: The study explored whether innovative assessment methods can enhance the student learning experience and promote effective learning. More specifically: Do innovative assessments encourage students to focus on the processes of teaching and learning rather than outcomes?
Design: A qualitative design using focus groups conducted with undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students at University of Worcester was employed. This enabled a detailed exploration of how students made sense of their experiences, their understandings and perceptions of innovative assessment.
Methods: Focus groups were conducted with eight undergraduate and seven postgraduate students from the University of Worcester. Students were drawn from a convenience sample and were included if they had completed at least one form of innovative assessment during their degree, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Transcripts from each focus group were analysed using Ritchie and Spencer’s Thematic framework method.
Results: Students’ perceived innovative assessments to have a positive effect on their learning if they: related to authentic ‘real world’ tasks, encouraged the application of psychological knowledge or enabled the development of transferable skills that have long-term benefits for employment. However, the extent to which these perceptions impacted upon their approach to study was unclear.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated both the benefits to and challenges of implementing innovative assessment methods.Greater emphasis ought to be placed on students as active participants in the assessment process, developing a shared understanding of criteria. Exposure to these methods ought to be taken into account when evaluating their potential to enhance the learning experience of students.