Making Students Assessment or Evaluation Less Boring

Wed, 11/16/2011 - 05:28 -- Umar Farooq
  • Students and staff can all find assessment very boring. The following set of suggestions may serve as a menu from which you can choose, to add variety and even fun to staff and student assessment. Select those choices that you feel are appropriate to your working context and method of teaching.

1.  Build in diversity All types of student assessment disadvantage some stu­dents, whether they are slow writers, poor orally, less able graphically, technophobic or whatever. Try to build up a range of methods of assess­ment to ensure that the same students aren't disadvantaged all the time. This also provides both you and them with variety.

2.  Involve students When assessment is a private matter between a tutor, who knows a lot and students who are trying to maximise the amount they know, it can be boring. Using self- and peer-assessment can encour­age a greater degree of commitment and involvement.

3.  Involve other colleagues When several tutors are involved in student assessment together it lightens the load (so long as they are all working along the same lines). Bringing in colleagues from other disciplines on assignments can be broadening, and can make for a more collegial approach to assessment.

4.  Bring in outsiders Employers can be a useful addition to the assessment team, when you can find means to motivate them to be involved. In professional areas, it can be useful to involve clients as assessors: who better, for example, can assess whether patients are being lifted effectively in nursing courses than the patients themselves

5.  Vary the location Poster assessment, for example, can take place in public areas of the university such as foyers and exhibition areas rather than the classroom. This allows students to celebrate achievement, and can be popular also with senior staff, quality assessors and so on.

6.  Have a quickie sometimes Very short, in-class assessments marked on the spot, and counting for a small proportion of marks, can form part of an assessment programme. Such assessments can be popular with stu­dents as they provide instant feedback and on-the-spot responses to issues and questions.

7.  Consider using technology Computer-based student assessment can be used from time to time even on non-technological courses, and can make a change from time-constrained written assignments. Computer-based as­sessments can give the bonus of helping arts and social science students to become more literate regarding information technology.

8.  Give students chances to assess you in informal sessions They can learn a lot by being given the chance to frame questions, devise mark schemes, and test you out. It also helps students to see you as one of the resources they can use and learn from, rather than the fount of all knowledge! (It can feel a bit risky, and take a bit of confidence on your part, however!)

9.  Extract 'howlers' and share them kindly This can be a fun way of alerting learners-to some of the things that can go awry in essays and exam answers (but be careful to preserve anonymity unless you know that the originator can see the funny side too).

10. Add a couple of marks for 'fun' For example, in formative student assessment such as essays or reports, invite students to provide an additional 20-word fun postscript, for example a non-serious definition of a jargon term.