Integrating theory and practice to design a framework for enhancing assessment in the First Year

O'Neill, Geraldine and Noonan, Elizabeth (2011) Integrating theory and practice to design a framework for enhancing assessment in the First Year. [Conference Proceedings]


Student engagement in the first year of university has received considerable attention by higher education researchers and policymakers internationally (Krauss et al 2005; Nicol, 2009). UCD's current Strategic Plan to 2014 has prioritised fostering early and lasting student engagement. Arising from the plan, the University's Focus on First Year strategic project was initiated and an important part of this initiative included a focus on assessment in the First Year. The main objectives of this activity were to evaluate how first year assessment practices were supporting student engagement and to make recommendations for enhancement. In order to design an institutional framework to enhance assessment in the First Year, theoretical data and evidence of current institutional practice were gathered and critically evaluated. Four specific methodologies were used: a comprehensive literature review; institutional data analysis of First Year assessment; case-studies of institutional practice and expert practitioner advice. These methodologies integrated evidence from both theory and practice. Based on this evaluation it became evident that a design framework would need to incorporate a dual focus to address the design and operational issues at module level whilst also providing a more strategic design perspective from the vantage point of a School or Programme. Nine design principles emerged: 6 module and 3 strategic design principles. These principles were supplemented by an extensive suite of expert resources*, openly accessible, to assist academic staff planning changes to first year assessment (O'Neill & Noonan, 2011). The framework (9 design principles and resources) will be used to direct enhancement of First Year assessment practices. The dual focus of the framework has the potential to provide a holistic lens with which to examine and identify directions for enhancement of first year assessment practices both locally and internationally.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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