Is our assessment up to standard?

Emeritus Professor David Boud
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Click here to download David's presentation.

While ‘academic standards’ have long been a feature of our discourse of university education, discussion of standards has now taken a new turn. Driven by a global debate about the nature of standards and an OECD-stimulated agenda on the comparability of standards across countries, we are being challenged to think of academic standards in new ways. Standards have also been taken up by the new regulatory body, TEQSA, that is beginning to exert its influence on higher education courses and institutions. Within this shifting context we face the challenge of deciding what this means for courses and teaching. What constitutes our standards? What are we now working towards? How will we be influenced by how we are judged? At the heart of such matters is student assessment. It is the prime mechanism we use to tell if standards have been met, it is also a key influence on students’ study and it is an increasingly important means of judging whether we as academics are doing our job well. The keynote aims to navigate this new and emerging space. It will examine student assessment in the context of standards and identify and unpick some of the challenges that we are confronted with at the present moment of higher education. It will focus on the implications of the new standards agenda for how we assess. In particular, it will consider what assessment needs to do and how well our existing conceptions of it, and our conventional assessment practices, meet these needs. It will question whether marking as we presently know it is fit for purpose and what new ways of approaching it might be. It will conclude with an emphasis on ensuring that assessment contributes positively to student learning as well as assuring that it has occurred.

Professor David Boud has been involved in research and teaching development in adult, higher and professional education for over 30 years and has contributed extensively to the literature. Previously at UTS he held the positions of Dean of the University Graduate School, Head of the School of Adult and Language Education and Associate Dean (Research and Development) in the Faculty of Education. Prior to his appointment at UTS he was Professor and Foundation Director of the Professional Development Centre at the University of New South Wales.

He is a 2007 Australian Learning and Teaching Council Senior Fellow and in 2010 completed the project associated with this fellowship, 'Student assessment for learning in and after courses’, called Assessment Futures.

What do we know about assessment & what should we do about assessment?

Professor Chris Rust
Oxford Brookes University

Click here to download Chris' presentation.

Last year, Chris published a selective review* of the literature regarding assessment intended to summarise what we know about assessment. In this keynote, he will run through some of the major conclusions, in particular regarding the many failings in traditional approaches to assessment. He will then go on to consider the wealth of constructive advice that exists on how we can improve our processes, with a view to participants auditing their own practices and considering how they might be improved.

*The review can be found here.

It is also available as an e-book: What do we know about assessment?.

Chris Rust is Professor of Higher Education, and Associate Dean (Academic Policy) at Oxford Brookes University. Previously, for ten years, he was Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD), and Deputy Director of the Human Resource Directorate. From 2005 - 2010 he was also a Deputy Director for two Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning - ASKe (Assessment Standards Knowledge Exchange) and the Reinvention Centre for undergraduate research (led by Warwick University).

He has researched and published on many aspects of student assessment, including improving student performance through engagement in the marking process.