Friday, 25 April 2008

Assessment standards: a manifesto for change

A group of 34 prominent academics has taken a laudible stance against our current assessment culture (see also this THE article). You can find the manifesto and it's supporters at the bottom of this post. Point 3 especially I think is very poignant within the context of e-Assessment, where our obsession with the measurable (I'm thinking Item Response Theory here) has gotten way out of hand at the expense of validity.

The Weston Manor Group

Assessment standards: a manifesto for change

  1. The debate on standards needs to focus on how high standards of learning can be achieved through assessment. This requires a greater emphasis on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning.

  1. When it comes to the assessment of learning, we need to move beyond systems focused on marks and grades towards the valid assessment of the achievement of intended programme outcomes.

  1. Limits to the extent that standards can be articulated explicitly must be recognised since ever more detailed specificity and striving for reliability, all too frequently, diminish the learning experience and threaten its validity. There are important benefits of higher education which are not amenable either to the precise specification of standards or to objective assessment.

  1. Assessment standards are socially constructed so there must be a greater emphasis on assessment and feedback processes that actively engage both staff and students in dialogue about standards. It is when learners share an understanding of academic and professional standards in an atmosphere of mutual trust that learning works best.

  1. Active engagement with assessment standards needs to be an integral and seamless part of course design and the learning process in order to allow students to develop their own, internalised, conceptions of standards, and monitor and supervise their own learning.

  1. Assessment is largely dependent upon professional judgement, and confidence in such judgement requires the establishment of appropriate forums for the development and sharing of standards within and between disciplinary and professional communities.


Professor Trudy Banta

Dr Simon Barrie

Professor Sally Brown

Ms Cordelia Bryan

Dr Colin Bryson

Ms Jude Carroll

Professor Sue Clegg

Professor Linda Drew

Professor Graham Gibbs

Professor Anton Havnes

Dr Mary Lea

Dr Janet Macdonald

Professor Ranald Macdonald

Dr Debra Macfarlane

Dr Susan Martin

Professor Marcia Mentkowski

Dr Stephen Merry

Professor David Nicol

Professor Andy Northedge

Professor Lin Norton

Ms Berry O’Donovan

Dr Thomas Olsson

Dr Susan Orr

Dr Paul Orsmond

Professor Margaret Price

Professor Phil Race

Mr Clive Robertson

Dr Mark Russell

Dr Chris Rust

Professor Gilly Salmon

Professor Kay Sambell

Professor Brenda Smith

Professor Stephen Swithenby

Professor Mantz Yorke

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