With the start of the new academic year come the inevitable beginnings of the periodic review process, with the validation and re-validation of programmes at the University of Winchester approaching rather more swiftly than we ever anticipate at this early stage in the year. For Programme Leaders and academic staff whose programmes are undergoing periodic review at Winchester this also means engaging with the TESTA research process. But why make TESTA part of periodic review?
Both the initial TESTA project (funded by the HEA) and the on-going consultancy and use of the TESTA approach have been hugely successful. TESTA findings to date have demonstrated it as an effective and valuable approach to enhancing assessment and feedback practices, improving students' learning experience and getting 'more for less' when it comes to programme level assessment (see Tansy's previous blog 'Getting more for less?'). As such utilising this approach as part of the periodic review process becomes a highly beneficial practice.
Having started in my role as TESTA Research Officer at the University of Winchester only seven weeks ago I have spent much of this preliminary time engaging with the TESTA approach. My role comprises largely of using TESTA in periodic review and in the little time it has taken me to become familiar with 'all things' TESTA it has become evident that including TESTA as part of the review process is invaluable.
In 2014/15 six programmes at the University of Winchester went through TESTA as part of the periodic review process, including Drama, History and Psychology. TESTA informed the reviewing of these programmes through demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of their assessment practices, acting as a useful point of reference when re-thinking these, and ultimately contributing to the enhancement of the programme's design. Academics from across these programmes commented on the positive outcomes of this process, confirming that the TESTA approach now informs their teaching, has increased awareness about teaching and assessment methods, and on the whole has led to the use of more formative assessment that engages students in on-going and progressive learning throughout the year. For many Programme Leaders and academics going through this process, TESTA affirms what they already suspect when reviewing the strong and not so strong areas of assessment across the programme, and provides the basis, support and encouragement for shifting and enhancing these practices through periodic review.
With such fantastic results and such a tangible impact on enhancing programme level assessment, the TESTA approach has proven itself as a useful tool and a valuable element in the periodic review process at the University of Winchester. In 2015/16 there will be four programmes from across the institution that will engage with TESTA as part of their periodic review and I have no doubt that the TESTA research process will continue to be interesting, insightful and enjoyable. I can't wait to get started!