Exploring the practice of assessment in first year

Guerin, Suzanne, McNulty, Jonathan and Staunton, Michael (2012) Exploring the practice of assessment in first year. In: AISHE-Conference 2012: Responding to Change: Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30th & 31st August 2012, Dublin City University, Ireland..


The aim of this study is to explore the practice of assessment in first year teaching, and this aim is met though three distinct phases. The first phase involves a content analysis of module descriptors for over 600 first year modules offered in University College Dublin in 2011-2012 in order to examine the types of assessment used. Preliminary analysis highlighted a variety of assessment practices, however traditional essay- and exam-based assessments were common and formative assessment was rarely explicitly mentioned. The second phase examines the factors that influence assessment choice at this level and particularly the supports for and barriers to effective assessment practice. Phase 2 uses an anonymous self-report survey of staff involved in coordinating and teaching first year modules. In order to develop this survey a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants (n = 7) including teaching and administration staff and individuals involved in the management and development of assessment within the university. A thematic analysis is underway to identify key influencing factors and preliminary analysis suggests these involve both pedagogical and practical issues. Once identified, these factors will form the basis of the survey, which will examine the influence of these factors. The final phase involves case studies of sample modules to examine in greater depth the factors influencing the practice of assessment in first year. This paper will focus on the findings of the initial review of modules and the analysis of key informant interviews, concluding with an examination of the factors to be considered as part of the staff survey. It is hoped that this research will provide an insight into the practice of assessment for first year students.

View Item