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Designing curriculum and assessment to promote effective learning in chemistry in higher education

Author - Christine O'Connor

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Assessment models

The role of assessment in accordance with constructive alignment is to achieve the learning outcomes to the best of one’s ability. Figure 3 gives just some examples of assessment strategies. These do not include group projects, PBL, and all the other assessment activities used to assess a diverse range of learner types and skills bases. Module descriptors require the assessment weighting and methods to be outlined by the module authors. The competencies envisaged in the learning outcomes should be assessed in the appropriate manner. Clear assessment criteria should be at hand for students to refer to and it should be evident from the assessment criteria ‘What they need to know’!

Coppola et al. (1997) have restructured their classroom practice and have devised five principles which guide their instructional design to help students develop higher order learning skills. The five principles they have outline are:

  1. to give out explicit rules/criteria;
  2. use Socratic instruction;
  3. create alternative metaphors for learning;
  4. use authentic problems to elicit authentic skills;
  5. make examinations reflect your goals (constructive alignment).

Formative assessment in student learning is usually acknowledged, but it is not well understood across higher education. It is argued that there is a need to take account of the epistemology, theories of intellectual and moral development, students stages of intellectual development, and the psychology of giving and receiving feedback. It is noted that formative assessment may be either constructive or inhibitory towards learning (Yorke 2003).

Assessment should be given serious consideration and reflection and the choice of assessment methods should clearly relate to the learning outcomes. There will rarely be one method of assessment which satisfies all learning outcomes for a module and we would recommend that in devising your assessment strategy, a variety of methods is included.
(Donnelly and Fitmaurice 2005)

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