chapter  13
Getting the context right for good assessment practice
Pages 15

This chapter provides a case study about what happened to promote good assessment practices at a regional university in Australia. It provides a 360° perspective on the top-down, middle-out and bottom-up strategies that were used to get the context right for quality assessment. The argument is that good assessment practice is a whole-of-university responsibility. A simple story illustrates this – self-plagiarism became a topic of discussion at the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee. The question was: What should be done when a student’s report indicates considerable overlap with previous assignments completed by the student? The outcome of the deliberations suggested that higher education students should demonstrate evidence of growth and development through assignments. Of necessity, this will result in some overlap and higher order application of previous assignments. Second, if the overlap is extensive, then there is something wrong with the systematic design of assessment in the overall degree programme. In brief, staff teaching in the same programme should be aware of assessment tasks in other modules or units and avoid duplication. At the heart of this discussion lay a presumption that universities have a responsibility to facilitate coherent student learning journeys. This provides the starting point for this chapter, which argues that good assessment practice in universities is more than the outcome of individual efforts to design meaningful student assignments. It also requires systematic and university-wide strategies that assure and support quality assessment. The emphasis on a systemic, whole-of-university approach implies that

this chapter is as much about context as it is about assessment per se. This is because

Effective change is embedded in context and comes when those involved make it their own through use and adaptation to local histories and contexts. Enhancements of practice are produced by a complex array of individually and collectively induced incentives, histories and values. A measure of control at the ground level is a condition of success.