VocTech Showcase: Reflections on Assessment

In advance of our panel discussion on Assessment as part of the Ufi VocTech Showcase, we caught up with Lisa Barnes from Jisc for her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in assessment.

You can find out more about the panel discussion below, or visit the Showcase event page.

What’s the biggest problem with assessment currently?

"We can see an over reliance on traditional practices, particularly summative, unseen exams, that are testing recall and writing ability rather than the kind of skills learners will need to succeed in the workplace. So, we need to go back to really rethinking the purpose of assessment, what we assess and how we assess it. And also consider how we bring students along with us so they understand why we’re asking them to do things in a different way."

Which learners is this disproportionately impacting?

"Anyone who doesn’t excel at this type of activity. There are particular issues for some groups e.g. learners who don’t have English as their first language, or who suffer from dyslexia. But the issue is much broader. Traditional assessment practices can demotivate learners who don’t see themselves as ‘academically gifted’ and it can be hard for them (and their peers and families who influence them) to see the relevance or value."

How could assessment be improved through use of technology or systems redesign?

"So, technology can offer some real advantages when rethinking assessment. But it isn’t just about moving what we do now online or simply enabling digital assessment, it’s an opportunity to rethink assessment approaches and therefore enhancing our assessment and feedback practices. Are we using the right methods to assess the required knowledge, skills and behaviours? Are our assessments opportunities for learning to happen? Are they authentic and best preparing our learners for the ways that they’ll be assessed in the future workplace?

Some of the ways that technology can enhance assessment and feedback include enabling more flexible, authentic, and ‘assessment for learning’ approaches to assessment design. For example it can offer a broader choice of media formats for learners to demonstrate their skills and abilities; offer formative assessment via engagement with communities of practice and peer learning; offer authentic environments through simulations and augmented and virtual reality; enable learners in the workplace to demonstrate, evidence and get sign of for skills effectively and efficiently; and provide online versions of ‘open book’ exams where learners have access to appropriate content that emulates the type of analysis and decision-making that happens in the workplace."

What changes would you like the awarding bodies to implement?

"Suggestions that awarding bodies could explore that have emerged through our work include accepting the demonstration of skills and competencies using a broad range of media and formats, allowing open book examinations where appropriate, and including a variety of assessment types as part of any summative assessment. And more broadly encouraging approaches that are innovative in their approach and design to achieve the required outcomes."

Join the discussion on Wednesday 17th November

As part of the Ufi VocTech Showcase we'll be delving into the world of innovation in assessment and exploring how the tipping point for new ways of assessing talent may finally be here.

Panellists for the discussion include: