by Airdre Grant
If you want to understand assessment, look no further than the cooking show MasterChef. It is an excellent example of assessment in action. It follows all the rules of good evaluation design. Consider these elements:
* the assessment (referred to as a brief) is explained clearly
* the task is authentic and relatable (cook something which represents you)
* it has a degree of complexity which is pitched appropriately
* all the tools needed are provided (the pantry is open)
* time lines are explicit (10 minutes to go!)
* there is formative feedback (don’t overcook that fish)
* standards are clarified (are you sure this dish is MasterChef level?)
* there is encouragement and checking in (presence)
* outputs are immediately assessed
* feedback is quick, constructive and positively phrased
* decisions are clear, explained and final.
This is a relatable assessment process. Participants know what they are doing and why. The task has clear meaning and value for them, beyond just meeting the brief.
The relationship between teacher and student is changing. Students are now partners in their learning engagement. But the partnership model has been stress-tested by the pandemic response and the speed of the shift online. In particular, the focus on assessment alternatives and assessment integrity has seen some old tensions resurface.
Regulators have got on the front academic integrity foot and teachers must do the same. We need to discuss with our students what a culture of academic integrity means, rather than default to “catching cheaters out”. The fine line between “cheating and feedback, collaboration and collusion” has always been hard to discern, especially when skills of collaboration and research are essential in a changing world.
The challenge is for assessment to elicit layered, contextual responses, untainted by integrity concerns; responses that require active engagement in productive learning activities and allow students to appropriately, evenly richly, represent what they know or can do. This takes a bit more time to design but is much more interesting to mark.
In Master Chef, the winning dish needs to meet the brief, be richly textured, demonstrate high quality engagement and evidence ongoing learning. Now that’s assessment.
Dr Airdre Grant, Academic Centre for Teaching and Learning
Southern Cross Uni