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‘Fit for purpose’ assessment: implications of using CAA. Sally Brown SCROLLA conference February 2002. Why might we want to change the assessment methods and approaches we use, overall and what impact is CAA having on our thinking?.

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fit for purpose assessment implications of using caa

‘Fit for purpose’ assessment: implications of using CAA

Sally Brown

SCROLLA conference February 2002

Why might we want to change the assessment methods and approaches we use, overall and what impact is CAA having on our thinking?
“Assessment methods and requirements probably have a greater influence on how and what students learn than any other single factor. This influence may well be of greater importance than the impact of teaching materials” (Boud 1988)
assessment in any case is becoming more
Assessment in any case is becoming more:
  • diverse
  • student-centred
  • focused on evidence
  • practice-orientated
  • efficient of staff time
  • fit-for-purpose
  • directed nationally towards benchmarks/threshold standards
a fit for purpose model of assessment the key questions
A fit-for-purpose model of assessment: the key questions
  • Why are we assessing?
  • What is it we are actually assessing?
  • How are we assessing?
  • Who is best placed to assess?
  • When should we assess?
why are we assessing choosing the reasons for assessment these may include
Why are we assessing?Choosing the reasons for assessment; these may include:
  • Enabling students to get the measure of their achievement
  • Helping them consolidate their learning
  • Providing feedback so they can improve and remedy deficiencies
  • motivating students to engage in the learning
  • providing them with opportunities to relate theory and practice
more purposes
more purposes...
  • Helping students make sensible choices about option alternatives and directions for further study
  • demonstrating student employability
  • providing assurance of fitness to practice
  • giving feedback to teachers on effectiveness
  • providing statistics for internal and external agencies
formative and summative assessment two ends of a continuum
Formative and summative assessment: two ends of a continuum
  • Formative assessment, primarily concerned with feedback aimed at improvement, often continuous and usually involves words: CAA is extremely useful
  • Summative assessment is concerned with evaluative judgments , often end point and involves numbers/grades:CAA can be used but needs careful setting up
choosing what we assess how does caa fit
Choosing what we assess: how does CAA fit?
  • product or process?
  • theory or practice?
  • subject knowledge or application?
  • what we’ve always assessed?
  • what it’s easy to assess?
Good assessment is about description, evaluation and suggestions for remediation.It must be valid and assess what it really claims to assess
exploring diverse approaches
Exploring diverse approaches

Choosing the approaches and methods we use for assessment contribute to a ‘fit-for-purpose’ approach. CAA as much as other approaches needs to do the job well

a variety of approaches
A variety of approaches
  • Self assessment
  • peer assessment
  • group-based assessment
  • negotiated learning programmes
  • work-based assessment


  • computer-assisted assessment
choosing diverse assessment methods
Choosing diverse assessment methods?
  • essays, unseen written exams, reports
  • portfolios, projects, vivas, assessed seminars, poster presentations, annotated bibliographies, logs, diaries, reflective journals, critical incident accounts, artefacts, productions, case studies, field studies, exhibitions, critiques, theses…….
alternatives to traditional exams
Alternatives to traditional exams

Open-book exams Take-away papers

Case studies Simulations

Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs)

Short answer questions

In-tray exercises Live assignments

  • Multiple choice Questions
choosing diverse methods of assessment is valuable because
Choosing diverse methods of assessment is valuable because:
  • all assessment methods disadvantage some students
  • we can access thereby a wider range of students abilities and skills
  • assessment can then become an integral purpose of learning
  • we can learn from the experiences of others
choosing who is best placed to assess
Choosing who is best placed to assess
  • tutor assessment
  • self-assessment
  • peer assessment, (either inter or intra peer)
  • employers,practice tutors and line managers
  • client assessment

CAA can involve all of these

when should assessment take place
When should assessment take place?
  • No sudden death
  • end point or incrementally?
  • when students have finished learning or when there is still time for improvement?
  • when it is convenient to our systems?
  • when it is manageable for students? (avoiding week 7 blues)
  • CAA is excellent for incremental assessment
when implementing innovative assessment we should
When implementing innovative assessment we should:
  • clarify our aims and objectives
  • build on the experiences of others
  • brief all stakeholders (students, fellow staff, external examiners ) well in advance
  • provide rehearsal opportunities
what constitutes innovative assessment
What constitutes innovative assessment?
  • new to the individual?
  • new to the course or programme?
  • new to the subject or discipline?
  • new to the institution?
  • new to the context or level?
planning strategies to integrate assessment within learning
Planning strategies to integrate assessment within learning
  • Celebrate individual difference
  • explain the process to all stakeholders so it is open,transparent and sound
  • provide meaningful feedback to enhance performance and reflection
  • provide institutions with the data they need
more planning strategies
More planning strategies
  • Enable articulation with professional bodies
  • integrate the ‘fit for purpose’ model of assessment into curriculum design
  • help students maximise individual achievement
  • provide clear,explicit and public assessment criteria
more strategies
More strategies
  • Make the volume of assessment manageable for staff and students
  • Be demonstrably valid, reliable and consistent
  • Be fair and authentic
  • Use the best technology
Contact me for comment or questions [email protected] Institute for Learning and Teaching, Genesis 3, Innovation WayScience Park York YO10 5DQ UK