April 26, 2012, by Teaching at Nottingham
Are you using Moodle? Can I help you?
Prof. Reg Dennick: ”It is refreshing to be accosted in this way at a conference but the desire to help and facilitate was a theme that ran through the one day “Assessment in the Digital Age” conference. From the opening plenary lecture describing how a whole university institution can manage major assessment change to the individual sessions dealing with practical methods for using portfolios, marking essays or writing objective questions and the useful demonstrations from IS facilitators this was a day designed to encourage change by demonstrating practical examples.
“After many years in which the staff development emphasis in Higher Education has quite rightly been on improving teaching and learning the pendulum is now swinging towards improving assessment. Assessment not only takes up a considerable amount of staff time it also has to be rigorous, fair, valid and reliable. Assessment is no longer just summative, at the end of a semester, it now must include increasing amounts of formative assessment or “Assessment for Learning”; in simple terms students quite rightly want more feedback on their progress. Changes to assessment methods have introduced electronic portfolios, plagiarism detection software, electronic marking schemes, and on-line objective assessment systems. All of this creates a changing assessment environment with new staff development challenges and more demanding students.
“All of these issues were dealt with during the conference and there was plenty of time for individuals to challenge and question during the sessions. It was reassuring to see such a good attendance from a wide range of staff from all Faculties of the University. Clearly there is desire for change and participants seemed keen to learn about new assessment methods and technologies. I found myself taking away a useful new assessment method that I will be applying to my own Masters programme and networking with members of IS who can help us develop ePortfolios on the medical undergraduate curriculum.
“One area I felt was missing from the day, but which I’m sure will be an important issue in the future, was the use of digital technology to analyse and report on assessment results in order to demonstrate that standards are being developed and maintained and that all assessments are valid and reliable. The psychometric analysis of assessment data is becoming a mandatory feature of all professional examinations, such as those in medicine, and it is only a matter of time before these processes apply to further areas in higher education. With students paying increased fees for their education not only will they demand better teaching standards but they will also demand that their assessments are objectively and transparently valid and reliable.”
Prof. Reg Dennick
Medical Education Unit
Recordings of the conference parallel sessions are available from the conference web page.