chapter  2
35 Pages

Assessing and grading

WithTony Harland

This chapter is in four parts and examines the purposes of assessment, the idea of over-assessment, the challenge of assessing complex forms of knowledge, and to finish, some practical ideas for teachers. The author discusses the different purposes of assessment and the tensions between these. This is followed by a section on ‘over-assessment’ where the author argues that graded course work assessments are done too often with the consequence that certain assessment types and learning opportunities for students are becoming marginalised. The third part is about assessing complex forms of knowledge that require subjective professional judgement, such as essays, projects and student research reports. The challenges here often concern student writing and interpreting assessment criteria. The author proposes that there are elements of best practice that can help with assessing complex knowledge and these are discussed under three sub-sections: academic culture, policy and student factors. The conclusion contains a number of practical and achievable strategies in five sections, including breaking the grading habit, re-evaluating what is considered to be teaching, focusing on assessing complex knowledge, reconceptualising both students and academics as apprentices in assessment, and finally, seeking to use integrative forms of assessment.