Examining increased flexibility in assessment formats

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Irwin, Brian ; Hepplestone, Stuart (2012)

There have been calls in the literature for changes to assessment practices in higher education, to increase flexibility and give learners more control over the assessment process (Boud and Falchikov 2006; Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick 2006; Taras 2002). This article explores the possibilities of allowing student choice in the format used to present their work, as a starting point for changing assessment, based on recent studies and current examples of flexible assessment practice in Higher Education. The benefits of this flexible assessment format approach are highlighted, along with a discussion of classic assessment considerations such as validity, reliability and marking concerns. The role of technology in facilitating assessment method choice is considered, in terms of new opportunities for providing student choice in the way they evidence their learning and present their work. Considerations for implementing flexible assessment choices into the curriculum are presented, along with a call that further research into such practice is needed to develop a comprehensive set of practical recommendations and best practice for implementation of flexible assessment choice into the curriculum. The article should be of interest to curriculum developers and academics considering implementing changes to the assessment process to increase student ownership and control.
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