Assessing and evaluating
At Deakin, we’re always searching for ways to improve our teaching and learning. We do this by creating innovative, authentic assessments that are related to the real world, as well as seeking feedback from students.
Assessment provides the evidence of learning achievement. It should be authentic and meaningful for students and for external stakeholders such as future employers or disciplinary associations (Boud and Associates, 2010).
Note that it has most effect when:
- used to engage students in learning that is productive
- feedback is used to actively improve student learning
- learners and teachers become responsible partners in learning and assessment
- students are inducted into the assessment practices and cultures of higher education
- assessment for learning is placed at the centre of subject and program design
- assessment for learning is a focus for staff and institutional development
- it provides inclusive and trustworthy representation of student achievement.
Deakin courses encourage students to make the most of assessment tasks. Students are engaged by authentic tasks (including simulations), asked to exercise their own judgement through self and peer assessment and to thoughtfully curate the evidence created through assessment in portfolios.
What is authentic assessment?
'An assessment requiring students to use the same competencies, or combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes that they need to apply in the criterion situation in professional life'. (Gulikers, Bastiaens, and Kirschner, 2004, p. 69)
Authentic assessment expects student work that mirrors the intended professional life for which the course is designed. It builds the skills of a profession.
Simulated assessment offers opportunities for students to practice skills before operation in high-stakes, real-world environment. Simulations allow students to repeat challenging tasks until they feel confident.
Self and peer assessment
At Deakin, students are incorporating evidence of their learning in portfolios, in student performances and presentations, and in other authentic substantiation of course learning outcomes that mirror real-life situations.
Assessment of self and peer learning underpins assessment authenticity by emphasising the development of metacognitive learning skills. It does this through a shared or collaborative responsibility for identifying what needs to be learned, how it will be learned and when learning has been successful.
Assessment as evidence
'Assessment practice needs to provide convincing evidence of students' accomplishments that can be judged against external reference points'. (Boud and Associates, 2010)
Assessment provides evidence of capability and achievement and must align with course learning outcomes reflecting authentic practice in the discipline. Assessment tasks can create diverse forms of evidence that can be collected and curated in portfolios.
Assessment should produce valid and reliable evidence of capability and achievement to the university which awards the degree and to future employers.
Tools for creating effective assessment are available from discipline, national and international teaching and learning resource collections. Students respond to effective feedback and clear criteria.
Evaluating teaching and learning
Deakin is committed to giving students an opportunity to reflect on their learning and provide feedback about the teaching, support and resources provided in units studied.
Deakin uses the validated eVALUate survey to collect students' feedback on their learning experiences within units and to help improve quality of teaching and courses.
- Focuses strongly on student learning, and prompts students to reflect on their own contribution to learning.
- Encourages students to agree or disagree, or to indicate that they are 'unable to judge' (there is no neutral option).
- Other universities have implemented eVALUate, which creates the opportunity for benchmarking of similar units and courses, where appropriate and as agreed by faculties and schools.
What eVALUate hopes to achieve
The eVALUate survey items are designed to be meaningful to students across a wide range of disciplines in all Deakin's learning experiences: classes, seminars, practicals and others, whether on campus or in the cloud (online).
Evaluation of each unit takes only a few minutes, but the timely feedback provided is invaluable to academic staff and the University, with an opportunity for changes to be made in future offerings.
Design of the eVALUate survey
There are two parts to the survey:
- The first part focuses on student perceptions about what has helped or hindered their achievement of unit learning outcomes.
- The second part seeks student feedback about individual teaching effectiveness.
The eVALUate survey incorporates both quantitative and qualitative items.
The quantitative items ask students to report on their level of agreement with statements about:
- the design features of the unit and how they assist their achievement of unit learning outcomes
- motivation and engagement in learning
- overall satisfaction
- satisfaction with teaching.
Students select one of five responses for each item:
- strongly disagree
- strongly agree
- unable to judge.
The qualitative items allow the students to comment on their experience of teaching. They also allow student responses on what the most helpful aspects of the unit were and suggestions about how the unit could be improved.