Exploring assessment for learning in one higher education classroom

Koen, Magaretha Paulina (2011-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Assessment, teaching and learning are key elements in lecturers' pursuit of quality in education. In fact, Black and Wiliam (1998) argue that assessment, a vital part of this reciprocal relationship should contribute to classroom learning rather than concentrate on restricted forms of tests that are not always linked to a student's learning experience. It is therefore open to debate whether a handwritten, one-hour examination does indeed stimulate students to learn and develop the knowledge, the understanding, the attitudes and the skills they need to develop. This statement mirrors the hotly debated and contradictory role of the lecturer of simultaneously having to both judge and support students' learning. In addition, widespread social and political turbulence and changes have played a role in the reform of assessment in South Africa during the past 20 years. It seems as if lecturers are caught in the middle of this conflicting role where they are expected to navigate themselves and their students through the uncertainty about how assessment should be organised, while at the same time being accountable to the students, parents, and the institution. Given the above background, the following question arises: "How can assessment enhance learning in one higher education classroom?" In answering this question, a basic interpretative qualitative approach employing focus groups and semi-structured interviews, was used in order to explore - through a variety of lenses - how final-year students in one higher education classroom dealt with assessment issues. This study aimed at using appropriate measures to conduct research to establish a chain of evidence (forward and backward) by implementing Lincoln and Guba's model for trustworthiness (1985). The conceptual framework for this study was mainly drawn from Race.s spreading ripples model of learning. The underlying premise of Race's theory is based on the idea that effective learning demands the dynamic interaction of four elements like the ripples on a pond, namely wanting/ needing, doing, feedback and digesting. The findings of the study suggested that assessment of a Life Skills Module should provide students with a variety of opportunities to demonstrate their learning in order to develop a well-rounded set of abilities when they enter the workplace. This idea signaled the importance of bearing in mind the first and foremost purpose of assessment, namely that assessment should serve student learning.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Assessering, onderrig en leer is sleutelelemente in dosente se nastrewing van gehalte in onderwys. Trouens, Black en Wiliam (1998) voer aan dat assessering – 'n noodsaaklike deel van hierdie wederkerige verhouding – tot die klaskamerleer moet bydra eerder as om te konsentreer op beperkte toetsvorme wat nie altyd verband hou met 'n student se leerervaring nie. Dit is dus debatteerbaar of 'n handgeskrewe, eenuureksamen studente werklik stimuleer om te leer en om die vereiste kennis, begrip, houdings en vaardighede te ontwikkel. Hierdie stelling weerspieël die heftig gedebatteerde en teenstrydige rol van die dosent om studente se leer tegelykertyd te beoordeel en te ondersteun. Hierbenewens het wydverspreide sosiale en politieke woelinge en veranderinge gedurende die afgelope 20 jaar 'n rol gespeel in die hervorming van assessering in Suid-Afrika. Dit wil voorkom of dosente vasgevang is midde-in hierdie konflikterende rol waar van hulle verwag word om sowel hulself as hul studente te stuur deur die onsekerheid omtrent die wyse waarop assessering georganiseer behoort te word, onderwyl hulle terselfdertyd verantwoordbaar is aan die student, die ouers en die instelling. Teen hierdie agtergrond onstaan die volgende vraag: “Hoe kan assessering in een hoëronderwysklaskamer deur leer versterk word?” Ten einde hierdie vraag te beantwoord is 'n basiese interpretatiewe kwalitatiewe benadering benut waarin fokusgroepe en semigestruktureerde onderhoude gebruik is om deur 'n verskeidenheid lense ondersoek in te stel na die wyse waarop finalejaarstudente in een hoëronderwysklaskamer die kwessies rondom assessering hanteer het. Die doel van hierdie studie was om die toepaslike stappe te gebruik om die navorsing uit te voer ten einde 'n reeks bewyse te vind – vooruitskouend en retrospektief – deur die implementering van Lincoln en Guba (1985) se geloofwaardigheidsmodel. Die bevindinge van die studie suggureer dat die assessering van 'n Lewensvaardighedemodule aan studente 'n verskeidenheid geleenthede moet bied om hul leer te demonstreer ten einde 'n afgeronde stel vaardighede te ontwikkel vir wanneer hulle die werkplek betree. Die konseptuele raamwerk vir hierdie studie is hoofsaaklik gebaseer op Race se “spreading ripples model of learning”. Die onderliggende beginsel van Race se teorie is gebaseer op die idee dat effektiewe leer die dinamiese interaksie van vier elemente vereis, soos rimpels op 'n poel, naamlik begeerte (behoefte), doen, terugvoer en verwerk. Die bevindinge van die studie suggureer dat die assessering van 'n Lewensvaardighedemodule aan studente 'n verskeidenheid geleenthede moet bied om hul leer te demonstreer ten einde 'n afgeronde stel vaardighede te ontwikkel vir wanneer hulle die werkplek betree. Hierdie idée dien as teken van die belangrikheid om die allereerste doel van assessering, naamlik dat assessering in diens van studenteleer moet staan, voor oë te hou.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6846
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