Does continuous assessment in higher education support student learning?

Hernandez, R. (2012) Does continuous assessment in higher education support student learning? Higher Education, 64 (4). pp. 489-502.


A distinction is often made in the literature about assessment of learning and assessment for learning attributing a formative function to the latter while the former takes a summative function. While there may be disagreements among researchers and educators about such categorical distinctions there is consensus that both types of assessment are often used concurrently in higher education institutions. A question that often arises when formative and summative assessment practices are used in continuous assessment is the extent to which student learning can be facilitated through feedback. The views and perceptions of students and academics from a discipline in the Humanities across seven higher education institutions were sought to examine the above question. A postal survey was completed by academics, along with a survey administered to a sample of undergraduate students and a semi-structured interview was conducted with key academics in each of the seven institutions. This comparative study highlights issues that concern both groups about the extent to which continuous assessment practices facilitate student learning and the challenges faced. The findings illustrate the need to consider more effective and efficient ways in which feedback can be better used to facilitate student learning.

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