Alternative approaches to assessment


Paul Denny from the University of Auckland has created a system that students use to “develop course-based multiple-choice questions and accompanying explanations to share with other learners. These questions are used by others for studying, critiquing and discussing. Each question is rated for difficulty and quality. The process of answering, evaluating and discussing questions developed by their peers enables students to compare their performance and understanding with that of other students studying the same material” (quote from this page).

Please watch the video to hear what the lecturers and students think, and then feel free to
answer some or all of the questions below, or to contribute your own thoughts and experiences around alternative approaches to assessment.

  • What were your reactions to the video? Anything strike you as particularly controversial?
  • What are your reactions to the concept of students creating assessment questions?
  • Have you encouraged your own students to develop (or co-develop) their assessments?
  • What might be the positive aspects of getting learners involved in assessment writing in this way? Negatives?
  • Are there any sector-specific considerations?

As a follow up resource you may find really useful, have a look at the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee (UK) “Effective Assessment in a Digital Age” (downloads as a .pdf file). Although it is aimed at aimed at practitioners in higher and further education who design assessment and feedback for their learners, the resource offers suggestions around ways in which to increase learner autonomy.


About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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