Assessment matters: that is the premise on which this book is based. It matters to students, the tutors who assess them, the institutions in which they are assessed, the parents, partners and carers who support them, it matters to the employers who would like to offer them jobs on graduation and to the funders and who pay for higher education and want to see the maintenance of standards and value for money.
Throughout the world, it is apparent that the subject of assessment is becoming more and more central to the whole process of higher education, as we seek to find ways to assure and enhance the quality of educational provision, with a changed focus on outcomes rather than on input. If we want to know what students have learned and how effective the learning process has been, the evidence we primarily turn to is student work and how it has been assessed. For example, both the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK are demonstrating a deepening interest in identifying threshold standards and benchmarks and, in order to have the information we need to enable these processes to be achieved, we need to focus ever more closely on assessment strategies, practices and evaluation. We need to be absolutely confident about the ways in which we assess students.
This book contains four parts: in Part 1: Systems Approaches to Assessment, we explore strategies which are used institutionally to manage and change the ways in which students are assessed. In Part 2: Exploring the Effectiveness of Innovative Assessment, we look at diversified and novel approaches that enable assessment to be truly part of learning and which offer opportunities to satisfy more of the demands we make on the process than may be possible with conventional assessment. In Part 3: Assessing Practice, we concentrate on assessing what students can do, which is an area that more and more higher education practitioners are keen to undertake, not only in vocational degrees but also in those subjects where we are keen to develop transferability of intellectual attributes. Part 4: Towards Autonomous Assessment centres on ways of involving students themselves as we believe this