University Students’ views on their experiences of assessment and feedback: Planned practices in the biosciences

By Mapula Matimolane, Moyra Keane and E. A. Brenner.

Published by The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents how the learning-oriented assessment (LOA) conceptual framework has been used to characterise course-level assessment practices employed in selected undergraduate Biosciences courses at a South African university. Secondly, the assessment practices were related to students’ perceptions and experiences of assessment and feedback. The data were collected from course and assessment documents and drew on students’ experiences of assessment and feedback. The overall analysis from documents showed that the assessment environments in the courses were dominated by summative assessment tasks (little use of explicit formative assessment tasks) and that students predominantly experienced frequent practical tasks (laboratory reports), tests and examinations. It was evident from students’ responses that assessment was viewed primarily as measuring learning and that feedback was focused on awarding marks. Furthermore, students were less positive about the clarity or transparency of assessment and on the feedback they received. The learning-oriented assessment framework presented here could be a useful tool in identifying the ways in which university teachers assess learning, as well as making them aware of the effects of their practices.

Keywords: Assessment, Feedback, Bioscience, Perceptions, Higher Education

The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.23-33. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 387.710KB).

Mapula Matimolane

Academic Development Tutor, School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Mapula Matimolane is a doctoral student and an academic development tutor in the School of Animal, Plant, and Environmental Sciences. She provides academic support to student and academic staff. Her research is in the area of student and teacher perceptions and experiences of assessment and feedback in higher education.

Dr. Moyra Keane

Centre of Teaching Learning & Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr. E. A. Brenner

School of Molecular & Cell Biology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa