Engaging Science Students in the Design and Enactment of Assessment
Source of Funding:
Teaching Development Grant, University Grants Council, Hong Kong
2 years, from 1 October 2005 to 30 September 2007
Members from the Faculty of Science and the Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research at The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Description of the Project:
‘Assessment drives the curriculum.’ Given that this is accepted by most university teachers, it is ironic that, on the one hand, there is increased discussion of, and stated commitment to, learning outcomes or graduate capabilities such as critical thinking, problem solving, self-managed learning, and interpersonal and communicative skills; and, on the other hand, there is a continuing reliance on assessment strategies which stress the reproduction of set knowledge in formal tests and examinations. There is a need for more systematic work on how to break through this barrier of contradiction and investigate pragmatic strategies for ensuring more appropriate assessment that are likely to be successful in the local Hong Kong context.
Suitable assessment strategies may involve students being involved in consultations about assessment. Suitable assessment tasks may take many forms; for example: the use of authentic tasks, self and peer assessment, case-based activities, problem-solving and experimental project work, the development of portfolios, etc.
The project aimed at investigating the applicability of the above-mentioned methods in the teaching of Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. This could lead to the framing of system-level changes to the assessment methods used in the Faculty of Science. A progressive and multi-stage strategy was suggested. Stages included: conducting a literature review, facilitating ongoing discussion by teachers in the Faculty, designing a number of studies where students were actively engaged in the design and enactment of assessment, closely monitoring and evaluating this series of studies conducted by motivated teachers, extracting general principles for effective assessment from the results, and then promoting the methods to a wider audience in the Faculty.