Driving Learning?


“assessment sometimes appears to be, at one and the same time, enormously expensive, disliked by both students and teachers, and largely ineffective in supporting learning” (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004).

One of my frequent thoughts when I labour over piece of assessed work is that at least some other poor soul (tutor) will have to endure a near-comparable level of pain in marking the thing.

In reading Gibbs and Simpson (2004) I realise I am sadly just like the vast array of students quoted in their piece.

  • I allocate my time strategically (I’ll do something if it will help with the assessed work OR if it looks interesting)
  • even though I have an abject hatred of essay writing I have to admit that it does force me to read around and create a deeper understanding of topics – productive learning is a consequence
  •  “feedback is received and attended to”…tricky this one.  Feedback normally performs a few functions for me:
    1. helps justify the mark I have received
    2. gives encouragement that I was on the right planet
    3. tells me about things I could have done (on this never to be repeated subject) if I had a whole load more time to spend on the task.  I normally mutter inwardly – “the-best-I-can-do-in-the-time-have” is generally the best I can do.
    4. shows me that my proof-reading skills aren’t fantastic
  • “many academic tasks make little sense to students” – best not start ranting about shoehorning Harvard referencing into 21C digital life.

.. and curiously …

  • “assessment communicates high  expectations” – I’ve struggled with this. Individual feedback is helpful, but I’ve yet to see any exemplars to show me what very good looks like.

So far this block we have read a number of pieces suggesting that “assessment drives learning” – maybe this is the case for school and undergraduates.  But it doesn’t sit that well in my post-MOOC life.  Could 3 badges really drive a MOOC? Or was it not the (timely and encouraging) peer feedback, the eventedness, the community on a learning journey?

Gibbs, Graham and Simpson, Claire (2004), Does your assessment support your students’ learning?, Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 1, 3-31. 


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