Assessment, learning and employability

Front Cover
Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press, Oct 1, 2003 - Education - 245 pages
What is assessed gets attention: what is not assessed does not. When higher education is expected to promote complex achievements in subject disciplines and in terms of 'employability', problems arise: how are such achievements to be assessed? In the first part, Knight and Yorke argue that existing grading practices cannot cope with the expectations laid upon them, while the potential of formative assessment for the support of learning is not fully realised. Improving the effectiveness of assessment depends, they claim, on a well-grounded appreciation of what assessment is and what may and may not be expected of it. The second part is about summative judgements for high-stakes purposes. Using established measurement theory, a view is developed of the conditions under which affordable, useful, valid and reliable summative judgements can be made. A conclusion is that many complex achievements resist high-stakes assessment, which directs attention to low-stakes, essentially formative, alternatives. Assessment for learning and employability demands more than module-level changes to assessment methods. The final part discusses how institutions need to respond in policy terms to the challenges that have been posed. This book has wide and practical relevance - to teachers, module and programme leaders, higher education managers and quality enhancement specialists.

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Higher Education and Employability
Summative Assessment in Disarray
Unrealized Potential

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About the author (2003)

Peter Knight works in the Centre for Outcomes-based Education at the Open University, UK.

John M. Braxton is Professor of Education in the Higher Education Leadership and Policy Program in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee. His research interests center on the college student experience, the sociology of the academic profession, and academic course-level processes. He has published extensively in refereed journals and contributed to book chapters in areas associated with his research interests. Professor Braxton serves as a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Higher Education and Research in Higher Education. He is the current President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Ian Bunting was full-time Dean of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Cape Town between 1987 and 1998. In 1999 he was seconded to the Higher Education Branch of the national Department of Education. He is now Acting Head of the Branch's higher education planning directorate.

Amy S. Hirschy is a graduate doctoral research student at Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee, working with John Braxton on issues relating to the student experience. Prior to returning to study at Vanderbilt, she worked as a college student services administrator for thirteen years. Grounded in that practical experience from within student administration, she now pursues research into college student experience in general and, more specifically, factors that positively and negatively influence students' educational persistence.

Richard James is an Associate Professor in the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. He has published widely on higher education access and participation, student decision-making during the transition to university, and quality assurance. In 2002, he conducted a national project on the assessment of student learning for the Australian Universities Teaching Committee.

Bernard Longden is Director of the Institute for Higher Education Research and Development at Liverpool Hope University College. He was a member of the HEFCE commissioned project group which produced the HEFCE report on student non-completion, and the National Audit Office inquiry panel that researched 'value for money' in student retention in higher education.

Craig McInnis is Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne. His most recent national projects include: studies of trends in the first year undergraduate experience; changing academic work roles in Australia; a review of factors contributing to student non-completion; and a study of the impact of part-time paid work on the full-time undergraduate experience.

Mantz Yorke is Professor of Higher Education at Liverpool John Moores University. He led a major study of undergraduate non-completion for HEFCE and drew on this work to produce, for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, a guide for intending students. He has published on a range of matters related to the student experience, including widening participation, formative assessment, retention and the development of employability.

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