Educators know that assessment and feedback practices are among the most effective levers for improving student learning in higher education (HE). Amidst current uncertainty through a variety of disruptors and with the shifting pedagogic landscape in global HE there is a pressing need to consider how we can better use the significant resources devoted to assessment to support students’ learning, academic staff development, and to improve assessment’s fitness for purpose in general.
Impacts of higher education assessment and feedback policy and practice on students: a review of the literature 2016-2021 is a systematic literature review by Edd Pitt and Kathleen M Quinlan from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Kent which provides a timely update that will influence the Advance HE transforming assessment in higher education framework.
Focusing on evidence-based policy and practice that has a demonstrable impact on student outcomes from the period 2016 – 2021, the review identified 481 relevant empirical research articles, from 71 different countries and six continents, in the areas of assessment (n=216), feedback practices (n=201), and peer assessment/peer feedback (n=64). This context provides an opportunity for researchers to tend to a much wider range of literature that has been published in different locations, highlighting a variety of research areas and addressing a more globalised understanding of assessment and feedback.
The authors offer a series of recommendations based on a wealth of evidence, each of which is well considered and designed to assist higher education institutions, policymakers, and researchers in identifying aspects each group may wish to prioritise, consider, or review in relation to current assessment and feedback policy and practise. These ‘high level’ recommendations are typically nuanced and context is crucial; the authors have done an excellent job of providing additional details and explanation to each of these, ultimately with a view to rethinking and repositioning assessment strategies, processes and practices across the sector.
I would like to thank Dr Edd Pitt and Professor Kathleen M Quinlan, for their thoughtful and considered synthesis and analysis. Their review is an important addition to the ongoing interrelated work being undertaken by Advance HE through the review and update of the Essential Frameworks for Enhancing Student Success, ensuring that you, our members, have access to current, relevant, and research informed practice.
Impacts of Higher Education Assessment and Feedback Policy and Practice on Students: A Review of the Literature 2016-2021 is part of the Connect Benefit Series - Student Success. Following publication, outputs for the Assessment and Feedback project will include an interactive webinar with the review's authors, virtual summits for Advance HE members and a series of podcasts. Find out more here.
Find out more about the Connect Benefit Series during 2021-22 here.
How do you get from 3,091 articles about assessment, feedback and peer feedback in higher education to 21 recommendations in four months? In this blog the authors Dr Edd Pitt and Professor Kathleen M Quinlan reflect on their processes, the decisions they took along the way, and how they overcame four key challenges.