Magazine article Times Higher Education

Hefce to Pilot National Tests

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Hefce to Pilot National Tests

Article excerpt

Exams could measure 'learning gain' but may also form part of planned TEF. Chris Havergal reports

Nationally administered standardised tests for students are to be piloted in English universities.

The generic, non-subject-specific exams will be trialled by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to evaluate whether they could be used to measure undergraduates' "learning gain": the improvement in skills and competencies made by students during their time at university.The results could also be used to compare institutional performance, and may form a key metric in the planned teaching excellence framework.

The pilot, which was announced on 21 September, will take place alongside a multi-institutional trial of a learning gain assessment programme, which is already running overseas. Times Higher Education understands that this is likely to be the Wabash National Study, which uses a mix of grades, surveys and standardised tests, and was developed at Wabash College in Indiana.

Hefce has also announced £4 million of funding for 12 projects to test measures of learning gain at more than 70 universities and colleges.Some of these will focus on comparing course grades or survey data but seven will include standardised testing. The universities of Warwick, East Anglia and Manchester are among institutions leading these projects.

Jo Johnson, the universities minister, said that the results of the pilots "will help assess teaching quality and excellence and ultimately provide better value for all students". …

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