Student views of assessment

iStock_000021006935XSmallStudents who see assessments as a way to keep themselves accountable had higher educational outcomes than students with other conceptions of assessment, according to a study of 3469 secondary students in New Zealand. Questionnaires on assessment were administered at the end of reading comprehension tests for 13-16-year-old students.

Students have four major conceptions about assessment, says a recent study published in Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice. Students see assessment as (1) making students accountable, (2) being irrelevant because it is bad or unfair, (3) making schools accountable and improving the quality of learning or (4) being enjoyable.

Based on this study, students’ conceptions of assessment and the relationship to achievement is consistent with formative assessment theories, the authors say. “Thus, we see in these results students who reported thinking in terms of self-regulation and formative assessment tended actually to achieve more. We further suggest that it is the interaction of both believing in self-responsibility and using assessment formatively that leads to greater educational achievements.”

The implications for compulsory, large-scale testing programs are that educators should present the process to students as measures of individual learning. If the assessment is presented to students as a school or teacher accountability mechanism, then, according to these data, achievement is likely to go down, the authors say.

Students’ conceptions of assessment: Links to outcomes, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, Volume 15, No. 1, March 2008, pp. 3-17.

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