Taylor, JA & Healy, A 2009, Assessment: a tool for transition: a collaborative presentation', paper presented to FYE Curriculum Design Symposium, Brisbane, Qld., 5-6 February, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld.
It is probably accepted that assessment in Higher Education creates the stepping stones to graduation and must be acknowledged as a whole of course agenda (Boud, 2007; Sadler, 2007; Torrance, 2007). Assessment is a value-laden activity designed to prepare students for employment with a key focus on measuring the quality of their work. So what? Most academics would agree with the generic description, but this is not the issue. It is rather that, traditionally, unit developers create assessment on the basis of content to measure achievement. It is rarely designed in relation to the particular needs of first year students or consciously as one part of a more encompassing developmental process in which students are required to create and recreate their history in increasingly sophisticated ways. If assessment is conceived as a set of processes that measure the outcomes of student learning and provides a means of deciding if they are ready to proceed, feedback beyond a grade or mark must be central to developing assessment processes. So, what does this mean for the FYE? First, the integration of learning and assessment within an intensively supported curriculum cycle seems crucial. Support intentionally builds student agency; it introducers multiple lenses on knowledge; it locates the ‘work’ within a graduate capabilities framework; it scaffolds analytic and reflective processes; and it models and supports tertiary literacies. Second, clarity in assessment procedures, processes and criteria is important for the short-term attainment of particular and limited objectives, but importantly recognises a place within longer-term goals. Third, what is assessed must go beyond the interpretation of knowledge; thinking, problem-solving and extrapolation capacities are equally a focus in effective assessment design and can be a key criteria for successful transition to university studies.