Understanding students’ prior experiences of assessment and feedback

Grant type: Development (2000-08)
Round: October 2007
Amount awarded £4,400.00
Completed: November 2009
Leader(s): Dr Graham Holden
Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Contact Email: g.j.holden@shu.ac.uk
Start Date: 3 November 2008
End Date: 30 September 2009
Interim report received: 25 June 2009
Final report received: 27 August 2009

There is a wide held view that assessment is the engine that drives student learning; however more recently ‘clear symptoms of engine failure’ have been noted, not least that the engine is labouring under the pressure of larger undergraduate courses and increasing widening participation, while at the same time struggling to maintain the quality of the student and staff experience.

Assessment, and expectations of assessment, need to provide feedback to support the learning process – it is another learning tool that student’s need to learn to use effectively if they are to succeed at university. Recent research at Sheffield Hallam (Smith and Hopkins (2005), Smith (2005)) and across the sector (Stuyven et al (2002); Beaumont et al (2007)), suggests that the experience of assessment and feedback prior to University is very different and that this means a real gap in expectations when transferring into HE, resulting in poor attainment.

This development work is pertinent to the work of the Education Subject Centre as it focuses on Y13 students who are just about to make the transition to HE study. The project will focus on year 13 students’ experience of assessment and feedback as they work towards their A2 (or equivalent) qualifications in various subjects across the Key Stage 5 curriculum at secondary schools and colleges within the South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire regions. These experiences will then form the basis of more detailed discussions on students’ and teaching staff understandings of study at university