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Assessment of Learners and Learning – What you had to say

In 2018, QQI published a Green Paper on Assessment of Learners and Learning to stimulate a debate about current practice in assessment, how policy and practice in this area can be improved,  and QQI’s role in these changes.

More than 70 responses were received from across the further education and training, higher education and English language education sectors, the main themes of which are contained in a stakeholder feedback report written by Dr Joanne Banks of Trinity College Dublin.

Feedback emerged across a wide range of themes at a number of different levels.

System Level

At a system-level, feedback highlights a strong appetite for discussion about the role of assessment in education and a need to view education within the context of providing foundational knowledge, professional skills and lifelong learning.  Submissions emphasised the need for QQI to provide clear and unambiguous guidelines for providers in order to ensure consistency of standards of assessment across different education settings.  In some responses, this call for greater guidance was somewhat conflicted by arguments for institutional autonomy and local decision-making.

Provider Level

Contributions at this level focussed on topics such as inclusion and diversity in education in light of the increasingly diverse nature of students and the need for assessment to reflect these changes.  Highlighted was the need to broaden the current understanding of diversity in the student population from international and mature students to include those who are socio-economically disadvantaged and those with disabilities and addition learning needs.  Providers expressed the need for debate and clear guidelines on how true inclusion can be achieved within the context of providing reasonable accommodations for students and Universal Design for Learning principles.

Stakeholders also provided detailed contributions on the role of learners as partners in assessment with mixed views on the feasibility of this overall. 

It was widely felt that clear guidelines on academic integrity and standards of achievement in assessment be made available for both staff and students.

Practice on the ground

Contributions in relation to the use of digital technology in assessment revealed a lack of investment in this area and variable methods of assessment across different providers.  Challenges exist in ensuring the validity and authentication of remote assessment. 

Other challenges identified included an over-emphasis on assessing individual modules rather than the achievement of the programme learning outcomes. Providers also provided suggestions on how to avoid over-assessment to the benefit of both staff and students.  Finally, a focus on work-based learning called for a re-examination of how these assessments are viewed within our broader understanding of education, clear guidelines for assessors and strengthened relations between providers and industry.

This is only a sample of the feedback received.  The report can be read in full here.

Individual contributions from stakeholders can be read here.