Alison Shreeve

  • Variation in Students Conceptions of Assessment Using Learning Outcomes

    Alison Shreeve, London College of Fashion
    Jonathan Baldwin, University of Brighton
    Gerald Farraday, London College of Fashion

    Assessment is instrumental in developing effective learning (e.g., Laurillard 1984, Ramsden, 1988) and to be effective the assessment should be aligned to the stated learning outcomes (Biggs, 1996). However, the assessment of outcomes is not unproblematic, particularly when they are related to grading criteria. (Woolf, 1995). A recent critique of learning outcomes has highlighted the difficulties of intended transparency in the wording of outcomes (Hussey and Smith, 2002). The wording is open to interpretation and needs to be supported by experience.

    It would appear that variation is a fundamental aspect of experience and seminal studies into student learning have identified that students approach and understand learning in qualitatively different ways (e.g. Marton and Saljo,1976a and 1976b, Trigwell and Prosser, 1998 ). Specific references to design students has also found that there is variation in the way that students approach the design project and in undertaking the research aspects of the project (Drew, Bailey Shreeve, 2002, Shreeve, Bailey, Drew, 2002).

    This study explores the variation in students conceptions of assessment and learning outcomes and the relationship between them. It has been undertaken with second year students on a fashion design course, but the variation is likely to be relevant to other disciplines, particularly those using project work for assessment. It discusses the findings and the implications inherent in variation, such as changes to project briefing, the need for staff development and the construction of a community of understanding around assessment (Beaume and York, 2002). A greater understanding of how students conceive of the policy of using learning outcomes to evaluate their performance in assessment will enable more effective staff development to be undertaken, leading to improvements in learning and improvements in the common knowledge of assessment practice and thus reliability.


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