Innovation in assessment: Building student confidence in preparation for unfamiliar assessment methods
Innovative assessment methods in which students are active participants promote deeper learning. At the University of Nottingham, a group debate and a ‘webfolio’ were implemented as methods of assessment in the 2015 undergraduate midwifery curriculum, and were evaluated by students. Thematic analysis of the evaluations showed that students enjoyed undertaking innovative methods of assessment, and that they developed confidence and engaged meaningfully with the content to be assessed. Students also commented that they developed multiple skills required for future professional practice as a midwife. However, thorough preparation of students to undertake an innovative method of assessment is vital in fostering student confidence.
Traditional methods of assessment in higher education, such as examinations and essays, still dominate the majority of curricula (Struyven et al, 2005; Pereira et al, 2016), despite being criticised in the literature (Sambell et al, 1997; Scouller, 1998; Medland, 2016). Sambell et al (1997) reported that students had negative opinions about conventional assessment methods, going so far as to suggest they negatively affected the learning process. Medland (2016) therefore recommended that higher education assessment systems move away from the testing culture, where students merely ‘learn to pass’, towards an assessment culture, where students ‘learn to learn’, and proposed that this could be fostered by the implementation of varied and innovative methods of assessment, in which students are active participants.
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