The challenges and benefits of criterion-based assessment: combining feedback channels and exploring criterion-based supervision
Paper in proceedings, 2014
This presentation combines the findings from two studies. One study compares students’ experiences criteria-based assessment via in-text commentary and rubric-articulated feedback in an assessment design combining the two feedback channels. We use students’ responses to inform possible ways of optimizing feedback strategies for formative assessment. Categories of student responses from three sources are discussed: reflective texts, a questionnaire, and interviews. Results indicate that students attributed different functions to the two feedback channels: in-text commentary to later-order concerns related to language proficiency, and rubric-articulated feedback to higher-order concerns related to an overview of writing achievement. The second study investigates adapting supervision for greater impact of university-wide guidelines and criteria for MSc and Bachelor of Engineering theses. The study involves a faculty-training group at MSc and BEng levels and an analysis of the work supervisors and students have been doing to interpret criteria and thus contextualize them for their projects. Findings indicate that isolated supervisors have little sense of the potential of the criteria and that a collegial discussion is crucial to generate understanding and supporting activities.
Both studies exemplify how internalization of a discipline’s standard is often insufficient and how a revised supervision process promotes student ownership and their informed engagement in thesis/assignment quality. So, while presenting the findings in terms of the initial interpretation of criteria among students and faculty is important, the presentation also needs to address the learning oriented interventions of revised supervision practices. The presentation, therefore, ends on some ‘lessons learned’ and synergy effects of a combination of reading seminars, in-text commentary, and rubric-articulated feedback for formative purposes. We also discuss current assessment designs and potential improvement to these towards. We hope this discussion is relevant to WRAB colleagues.