What is the central pedagogic problem TESTA addresses?
Assessment innovations at the individual module level often fail to address assessment problems at the programme-level, some of which, such as too much summative assessment and not enough formative assessment, are a direct consequence of module-focused course design and innovation. QAA course specification requirements (of outcomes and criteria) at the module level have not succeeded in clarifying for students the goals and standards they should be orienting their overall effort towards. There needs to be more consistency between modules, across programmes, and a greater emphasis on progressively developing students’ internalisation of programme-level standards, over time, rather than relying on documentation to specify criteria at the level of assignments or modules. Co-ordinated programme-wide assessment policy and practice is required to address both these issues.
How does TESTA address this problem?
TESTA maps programme-level data from eight programmes in four universities. This provides a rich picture of assessment - the quantity of assessment, balance of formative and summative, variety, distribution of assessment and its impact on student effort, feedback practices, the clarity of goals and standards, and the relationship between these factors and students’ overall perception of their degree. Using this baseline data, programme teams are devising targeted interventions to address specific programme-level assessment issues. Simultaneously, the project is deepening understanding of the relationship between quality assurance frameworks, and programme assessment changes through high-level strategic engagement with senior managers in each of the four institutions.