A PILOT review of assessment is being carried out by the university, in an effort to ensure learning results are being effectively judged by continuous assessment.
Describing the process as “a small pilot project”, Deputy Registrar for Teaching & Learning, Prof. Bairbre Redmond explained that her work is “a lot about helping staff use assessment to effectively measure the learning outcomes of the module. At the end of the module, we want students to have made certain progress in their learning, and that the assessment that’s given to them accurately measures how well their goal has been met”.
Prof. Redmond spoke of the possibility of regulating the number of assessments over a given period, adding that particular schools “are able to give students a graph of the busy weeks. So at the beginning of the semester, they can say ‘you really are going to watch out for week four until week seven. There’s going to be a lot of projects and they are due in on the following dates’
Students’ Union (SU) Education Officer, Paul Lynampraised the university move, describing the assessment review as “positive for students”, adding that “people are working together more, banging heads together more and we’re moving in the right direction”. He explained that he would like to see students receiving examination details during the first week of term, so that they “will be told the dates that their essays and midterms are due so hopefully they can plan out their study”.
Acknowleding that this practice would “put pressure on schools”, Mr Lynam stressed the importance of keeping “a fair balance” between staff workloads and student accesibility to assessment information.
He also spoke of his desire to see module descriptors being used to give students details of their examinations. “If the descriptor says that you’re going to have one midterm followed by one christmas exam to count for the module then that’s what you’re going to have. It’s a contract with students and the university have to honour that”.
Describing staff members as being “very open” to the pilot assessment review, Prof. Redmond added that she has received “lots of interesting ideas” about how to appropriately examine different modules.
Prof. Redmond is currently “working with the Vice-Principals of the Colleges that might like to become involved with the project”, and intends that complete it by Spring 2009. She hopes that any findings can be implemented into curriculum at the start of the 2010 academic year. “I want to learn from what we learn, evalute what’s been done and see can we roll it out wider”.