Margaret Price

  • Attempting to put a social constructivist assessment model into practice

    Margaret Price, Berry O’Donovan and Chris Rust, Oxford Brookes University

    Research seminar

    Theme: Assessment

    This seminar will focus on a continuing research initiative in the Business School at Oxford Brookes University, that takes a holistic view of helping all students to understand assessment and involves the development of ways to actively engage students, in an integrated way, in the assessment process.

    The initiative is based on a social constructivist view of learning (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978; Bruner, 1986, 1990) that knowledge is shaped and evolves through increasing participation within different communities of practice (Cole, 19990; Scribner, 1985), and the hypothesis that active engagement in the assessment process will increase the students understanding of what is actually being required of them and thus will lead to the students producing better work. Student response to the initiative will be analysed and the subsequent performance of the participating students monitored in relation to that of the non-participants. Preliminary findings will be presented and conference participants encouraged to consider these, and other possible ways of gauging the effectiveness of the process.

    The initiative has been significantly refined and developed since it was reported at the ISL conference in 2003, in the light of feedback received there and elsewhere, and is the latest stage of an ongoing research project. This project has previously identified the significance of both explicit articulation and socialisation processes in improving students' understanding of assessment requirements. Initiatives have included the explicit definition of assessment criteria (Price & Rust 1999; O’Donovan et al, 2001), the use of pre-assessment activities involving student engagement with exemplars and marking criteria (Price et al, 2001; Rust et al, 2003), and post-assessment activities involving student engagement with feedback. The current focus has been on how to refine and bring together these activities, and make them more effective, in a continuous and integrated cycle of student engagement with the assessment process within one module.