Assessment Matters in Higher Education: Choosing and Using Diverse Approaches

By Sally Brown; Angela Glasner | Go to book overview

12
Dimensions of Oral Assessment
and Student Approaches
to Learning

Gordon Joughin

Socrates:Now can we distinguish another kind of communication which is the legitimate brother of written speech, and see how it comes into being and how much better and more effective it is?
Phaedrus:What kind do you mean and how does it come about?
Socrates:I mean the kind that is written on the soul of the hearer together with understanding; that knows how to defend itself, and can distinguish between those it should address and those in whose presence it should be silent.
Phaedrus:You mean the living and animate speech of a man with knowledge, of which written speech might fairly be called a kind of shadow.
(Plato 1973 edition: 98)

Introduction

The dominant role of assessment in defining students' perceptions of courses and subjects is widely recognized (Rowntree 1987; Ramsden 1992; Knight 1995). It is equally well accepted that students' perceptions of the context of learning are a major determinant of their approaches to learning (Ramsden 1992; Marton and Säljö 1997; Ramsden 1997). Thus if assessment, from students' perspectives, tends to define the curriculum, the direct link between student approaches to learning and their perception of assessment is inescapable (Ramsden 1988). This link has been demonstrated repeatedly in a range of studies, beginning with Marton and Säljö's seminal work which indicated how changing the type of questions that students expected to be asked modified their approaches to learning (Marton and Säljö 1976), through to Entwistle and Entwisde's work describing students' intensive studying for final examinations (Entwistle and Entwistle 1997). Within these studies, several have examined the influence on approaches to learning of

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