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Holistic assessment design: Reality, possibility or elusive ideal?

Holistic assessment design: Reality, possibility or elusive ideal?

Headington, Rita and Kerrigan-Holt, Mark (2011) Holistic assessment design: Reality, possibility or elusive ideal? In: Assessment in Higher Education Conference, 6 July 2011, University of Cumbria.

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Social constructivist theory indicates that we learn by making cognitive connections (Vygotsky, 1978). In higher education we seek to enable learning through constructively aligned course design and teaching that actively engages students with learning (Biggs, 1999). Assessment design plays a key role, encouraging students to reflect upon and develop their understanding (Rust et al, 2005). Undergraduate students seldom experience individual courses in isolation but complete several in parallel each year within a programme. Gibbs and Dunbar-Goddet (2009) remind us that students' assessment experiences should be co-ordinated across programmes, and the National Student Survey suggests that assessment and feedback issues transcend individual courses.

This presentation reports on a study that explores assessment and feedback at programme level through two complementary data sources. The first pilots a programme-level assessment analysis tool developed within the University of Greenwich. The tool provides a visual, interactive model of current assessment design, encouraging the questioning of effective practice (Nicol, 2009) from staff and student perspectives. The second data source centres on interviews with students as they complete a three-year undergraduate degree programme.

The study questions the students' lived experiences of their programme's assessment and feedback design. It explores whether students have been able to make cognitive connections between the programme's network of assessment items, the nature of these connections, whether they were supported in making connections and could use feedback to advantage within the programme. The study considers whether holistic assessment design for a programme is a reality, a possibility or an elusive ideal.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: assessment design
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Educational Development Unit
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Last Modified: 01 Jun 2012 13:54

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