Re-evaluating programme assessment strategy
Wesley Doorsamy - School of Electronic & Electrical Engineering
Systematic understanding and re-evaluation of programme assessment strategies (SURPASS)
The research approach
Although vulnerabilities in programme assessment strategies for modular structures were identified some time ago, this remains a severely under-researched topic and there is a lack of knowledge on success criteria and principles of best practice. The most consequential challenge arising from gaps in programme assessment strategies - i.e., high assessment loads, has been magnified in recent years due to the proliferation of joint/epistemologically diverse programmes and the further segmenting of summative assessments. This research aims to systematically understand the interplay between different factors of assessment across programmes, to ultimately guide effective, efficient, reliable, and sustainable design and delivery in practice.
This research takes a pragmatic approach to investigating some of the underlying factors that influence programme assessment practice through a case study, based on the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering’s taught programme portfolio, to formulate a framework that guides best practice. The project aims to locally embed the work into programmes while simultaneously building up more widely applicable outcomes in the form of a toolkit that will operationalise the framework. The research methodology is informed by the literature and uses established techniques and tools in the research area such as programme data analysis, interviews, and surveys.
The resulting impact of a relentless regimen of summative assessments on students is potentially profound with far-reaching consequences that affect both students and staff. In the urgency to address the problem, there is a very real risk of prematurely implementing radical changes to assessment models without addressing existing shortcomings in the overall approach to designing, delivering, and evaluating assessment strategy. Implementing an assessment model without insights into assessment loads from a student’s perspective perpetuates the typical practice of how assessment loads across programmes are handled. Assessment strategy should also account for disciplinary context especially when considering the coordination of assessment across epistemologically diverse programmes. Hence, this project seeks to establish a framework for developing sustainable programme assessment strategies through deeper consideration of the underlying factors and context by incorporating the perspectives (lived experiences) of students and staff.
This project seeks to change how we approach assessment design and delivery across programmes to promote a culture of reliable assessment and effective quality assurance processes. The research outcomes are intended to inform wider institutional policy through deriving common principles and criteria with which to evaluate programme assessment strategy. Consequently, this work strengthens our platform for streamlining programmes and offers “a more considered, inclusive approach to assessment” as envisaged by Curriculum Redefined.
In the broader context, student assessment loads in higher education is an especially under-researched problem in contrast to the role that assessment plays in shaping student perceptions and experiences. There is a severe lack of research that incorporates discipline-specific considerations and student perspectives that may be used as a foundation to formulate good assessment practice at the programme level. Therefore, this research is also intended to appeal to the wider local and international student education community.
To find out more about the project please contact Wesley Doorsamy
Each fellowship has a project sponsor that helps the fellows achieve impact across the institution. The sponsor for this fellowship is Alice O'Grady.
Project start date: September 2023