“Existing models of assessment typically fail to measure the skills, knowledge, attitudes and characteristics of self‐directed and collaborative learning that are increasingly important for our global economy and fast changing world. New assessments are required that measure these skills and provide information needed by students, teachers, parents, administrators, and policymakers to improve learning and support systemic education reform. To measure these skills and provide the needed information, assessments should engage students in the use of technological tools and digital resources and the application of a deep understanding of subject knowledge to solve complex, real world tasks and create new ideas, content, and knowledge.”
Both the Tomlinson Report (DfES, 2004) and the Intel, Microsoft and Cisco Education Taskforce (Kozma, 2009) state educational systems today (including assessment methods) are at odds with the skills and attributes required for the future. The Taskforce recommend that “assessments should engage students in the use of technology and digital resources and the application of a deep understanding of subject knowledge to solve complex, real world tasks and create new ideas, content and knowledge”. Similarly, the Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP, 2007) project found students’ capacity to self-assess, reflect, and actively manage their own learning to be poorly developed even though they are highly valued skills in the workplace. This, in no doubt, contributes to the findings of the Leitch Report (HM Treasury, 2006) which predicts that the UK skills base will remain behind many other countries by 2020. This is reflected across Europe and specifically in Scotland, where the long-predicted shortage of ICT and digital technology professionals is set to increase by 15% by 2020. A focus on developing and evidencing these skills, in addition to the prescribed objectives, would add significant value by narrowing this skills gap.
- Enhancing student employability through technology supported assessment and feedback: “an effective combination of self-reflection and peer review may make the biggest difference to student learning and employability”; “good assessment and feedback practice is inherently linked to developing competencies needed in the world of work”; “the types of activities and behaviours that promote assessment for learning are very much the same as those that promote good employability outcomes”
“Our current assessment practices seem to be aimed at producing an overall mark that summarises how well a student has performed over the past three or four years, a single benchmark that it seems is increasingly meaningless to employers looking for attributes which will allow them to distinguish individuals from the crowd.”
University of Exeter
There are specific issues relating to assessment and feedback practice, and its ability to prepare students for the workplace, in particular a perceived lack of alignment between common assessment practice (especially the continued emphasis learning providers place on summative assessment) and the formative ways in which professionals develop throughout their careers, including extensive use of peer review.