Devlin, M. 2002, Advice on assessing large classes. In James, R, McInnis, C and Devlin, M (ed), Assessing learning in Australian universities : ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, Melbourne, Vic.
After a decade of rapid expansion in Australian higher education, student numbers have grown considerably in many courses and subjects, especially at the undergraduate level. Larger class sizes pose significant teaching challenges, not least in the assessment of student learning. Perhaps most troubling, large classes may limit the amount of feedback provided to students. In response to the pressures and challenges of assessing larger groups of students, academic staff are responding through: • greater attention to the communication of clear assessment criteria to students; • the development and use of marking guides to be used by teaching and assessing teams; • the increasing use of various forms of exemplars to guide student efforts — as well as to guide marking and grading — including the modelling of discipline-based thinking, writing and performance; and • the continuous refinement and dissemination of assessment policy and practice in relation to large student groups. The issue of workload is central in any decisions about assessment of large classes for it is a serious one for students and staff alike. Staff teaching large student groups invariably undertake an informal, qualitative weighing-up of the efficiency of assessment tasks vis-à-vis their educational effectiveness. There is little doubt that establishing an effective assessment program — developing criteria, guides, exemplars and models; discussing and refining them and communicating them to students and other staff — will have an initial negative impact on workload for staff with coordinating responsibilities. However, this preparatory work is likely to lead to three gains. The first is a reduction in the time required for marking due to a higher quality of student submission. The second is a resolution of some of the potential issues likely when many staff are involved in marking and grading, through a streamlining of marking and grading practices. Finally, the availability of clear, transparent criteria and examples of work will contribute positively to the overall quality of teaching and learning.
Field of Research
130103 Higher Education
Socio Economic Objective
930202 Teacher and Instructor Development
HERDC Research category
BN.1 Other book chapter, or book chapter not attributed to Deakin
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