Planning Assessments at Programme Level – Key Initiatives

This blog post was originally published on the University of Brighton’s Centre for Learning and Teaching blog, as a resource for staff development.

From 2005-2012 two initiatives took place each involving a key thinker and writer on assessment and feedback in the UK. The Re-engineering Assessment Practices in Higher Education project (REAP) was led by David Nicol, while Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA) involved Graham Gibbs.

Both of these projects were interested in moving the focus of assessment design away from one-off interventions on individual assessment tasks which had little impact on student learning to course-level planning of assessments. TESTA used a methodology based on consultation with staff and students and desk-based examination of assessment practices to formulate interventions, while REAP used a similar, though less formal set of tools to create interventions which focused slightly more on the use of technology. Both obviously drew heavily on the work of Gibbs and Nicol, and the broader assessment for learning movement (for example the work of Oxford Brookes’ ASKe), especially the importance of students getting feedback, whether from each other or staff, that aimed to improve their performance. This could either for assessments where submission contributed to their award (generally called summative, although Nicol has tended to call assessment where there was feed-forward as formative), or not (generally called formative assessment). Both initiatives were keen to implement changes that did not add to staff workload. Both also recognized that institutional change could only be guaranteed through policy modification and changes to quality assurance processes.

While both of these projects have officially finished, the resources on their webpages continue to be used, and in particular the TESTA methodology is being adopted and adapted to different programmes in universities around the world.

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