Course 1, Week 1: The Assessment Experience

We began the first week of the new module focussing on the assessment experience and becoming assessment literate.

I thought I would be entering a whole new world, as my experience as a 11-19 teacher was focused upon assessments set by exam boards. However, I actually did not feel out-of-my-depth, as a HoD I was always preparing assessments so I really could relate. My main struggle has been trying to pull this learning into the Personal Tutoring service, which does not have it’s own summative assessments. You’ll see more about how I tackle this from my blog posts for the entire module – crossed fingers it all works out!

This week was a real reflection on my own experiences of assessment and what I know our tutees experiences. After reading the comments of my peers, I am deeply grateful for my assessment experiences at CCCU and have plenty of thoughts on how to take my teaching knowledge of assessments and bring them into HE, if I were an academic.

Getting started

When considering the assessment experience, we were first asked about how we actually learn the rules of assessment, referring to ‘osmosis’. Osmosis was explained well here:

Ofcourse, osmosis is far from ideal in learning how to understand and begin to tackle any assignment at HE level. However, I do not fault trial and error – reflecting and learning from our mistakes is an important part of being human but also creating an a frame of mind towards our work. My initial feelings were that new students should be given just as many opportunities to develop skills, which will support their ability to understand and complete assignments, as is given to content.

Here’s a little comment I gave in response to a trial-and-error point given later in this weeks content:

Assessment experience

As I have said, I was very lucky to have such a great experience in my UG that I did not terribly struggle assessment literacy. Reflection however was still a very important process, and using feedback was heavily promoted. I’ve surmised my UG experience here:

As we continued to review current student experience, it became clear that skills are just as important as content. Fears the students presented in the video of their first assessment were closely related to how they unable to manage so many new aspects of their course into an assignment which met the criteria. This is where engaging with the Personal Tutoring service is so very important to us!

Doing the right thing or doing it right?

Assessment literacy is a new term to me and it really does make sense! Here is a not-too-long definition:


It’s important for educators and students to be assessment literate for a few reasons: for student success in assignments, for student confidence, for fair and consistent marking of assessors.

So what is the best method that to prepare students to become assessment literate? This quote makes me think of the hidden curriculum a little…

Now, it is still hard to relate summative assessment back to Personal Tutoring, but we do assess!


The assessment matrix was introduced and very interesting:

Q1, The Traditional Approach: where students come to know assessment standards over time through trial-and-error, the osmosis standard.

Q2, The Explicit Approach: here, the goal is to clarify assessment standards using explicitly assessment briefs, criteria and rubrics but often students do not necessarily understand the briefs or interpret them differently from the assessor.

Q3, The Social Constructivist Approach: in this approach, the students understand and know the assessment standard and have opportunities to use, apply and create their own meanings.

Q4, Community of Practice Approach: here, deep learning occurs as a community, where people come together and develop shared understanding through social engagement. The students take an active role in the design of the assessment and the feedback – fantastic!

The final approach appears to be the most engaging and interesting, but I don’t think the Personal Tutoring service is quite there with creating a community approach as our main assessment is formative through workshops and learning plans, which for the most part are personalised per student.

After learning more about assessment literacy, we were able to revisit a video of student experience of and their preferred methods. What hit me again was how some assessment guidelines are really lacking and I was shocked that bench-marking assignments as was a standard practice in 11-19 wasn’t occurring at HE – a real learning curve!

Finally, we took a look at why we assess. Now, this is not always clear and very subjective according to each individual involved. This was clearly demonstrated when referring to the stakeholders in assessment:

That called it a wrap for the week!

To finish off, I’ve considered pulled together a few summary points:

  • From being a qualified 11-19 teacher I had this set standard in my head for summative assessment that I thought would still be at least somewhat included in HE, but that hasn’t been the case. Summative assessments in 11-19 always had an exam board in mind. Formative assessments had a lot more flexibility using peer assessors. My own experience of assessment was very different from my BSc to MA, but I have been able to experience both strengths and weaknesses to pull forward into this module.
  • Knowing more about how HE educators set their assessments and how assessors mark has been eye-opening and I really am considering how to create an improved integrated approach for Personal Tutoring to supporting each department in assessments.
  • I’m not quite sure how to move Personal Tutoring from Q3 to Q4 of the assessment matrix, but creating a ‘cultivated’ community of practice approach is an area to consider with my team.

Overall, it has been an insight first week back into the PGCAPHE and I’m happy to be here 🙂

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