New forms of assessment


Increasingly our engineering students are “taught” in large classes, and they also have ready access (often at their seat, via smartphone or tablet) to a plethora of information.  Should either or both of these factors change our attitude to assessment?  What assessment techniques are both desirable and feasible in 2014?

2 All Responses to “New forms of assessment”

  1. Mike Ashby

    The real skill you need in later life is that of knowing what information you need, where to find it and what quality-level you should assign to it. The internet has now developed to the point that it is a genuinely useful tool for finding such information and there are ways of assessing quality. Using the internet effectively is a skill worth teaching – and we teach it, we will (unfortunately) be required to examine it. I think project-based (or “activity”-based) teaching is the way to do it, assessing the student on the quality and judgement that appears in their project.

  2. Roger Penlington

    I see one of the issues in making assessment more effective as a measurement employed to predict graduate abilities is that of conflict between linear and parallel thinking. Delivery of knowledge is generally linear (constructivist approach) in the hope that understanding develops whereas engineering decision making/problem solving/creativity in design are not sequentially linear activities for an experienced engineering practitioner.
    Therefore expressing solutions/outcomes in terms of their value and justification of the processes used are what I feel assessment activities should be aimed at. How this is done may then be where new technology may play a part as it offers the opportunity to allow the student access to a closed library within an examination setting. An authentic problem may be set which requires the student to manipulate the information sources that have been made available to them to draw together a justifiable solution. Interdisciplinary aspects may be included, for example, through the nature of source data or by expressing the outcome for another audience.
    So we will ask, how may this happen?
    I suggest confidence and professionalism for both engineering academics and student engineers supporting a move away from liner manipulation of historic expressions with closed solutions to processes which require some convergence of thinking may be facilitated by our ability to manipulate circumstances through new technology.
    This offers new assessment practice but does not provide a solution to the problem of how more complex forms of assessment may be effectively used with large classes. If we had technology which could apply true judgement to grade student work just think of the other complex tasks it could undertake!


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