Assessing-to-learn; enriching the assessment process
Assessment has a profound effect on learning - it focuses the students’ attention and actively encourages out-of-class engagement with the learning resources. Indeed it is repeatedly quoted as being the single most important activity with respect to encouraging learning. Further, in engineering disciplines the class-room activities (often) only appear to come alive when students are exposed to laboratory or hands-on activities. Coupling these notions together generally brings the need for students to produce formal laboratory reports. For the busy lecturer the marking of such reports, particularly as student numbers continue to grow, brings time demands that often conflicts with recognised good practice in terms of the quality and timing of the feedback. This work presents the findings from an alternative assessment approach which seeks to maintain the laboratory provision but uses the students, as well as desktop technology, to both help the assessment process as well as to enrich the learning opportunities. The paper draws out some of the opportunities and identifies the possible pitfalls of this approach. The findings have already indicated the merits of the approach hence this paper is likely to be of immense value to colleagues interested in i) developing learners and ii) engaging with experiential learning.