Assessment of practice throws up a number of problems that do not arise when assessing the more theoretical elements of curriculum delivery. This is particularly important when key skills such as numeracy, the use of information technology, communicating orally and in writing, working as a member of a team and managing one's own learning are increasingly regarded as important and integral elements of effective study. There are many tried and tested ways of assessing practice used to test skills and abilities as well as knowledge and understanding. Many of them are concerned with how to capture what is often ephemeral experience, in ways that are reliable and verifiable. Crucially assessment of practice relies on evidence rather than assertion, which is, where possible, triangulated, using a number of sources to support a claim of competence against explicit, available and relevant criteria.
In this part, Chapter 8 by Sally Brown explores the practicalities of assessing practice, looking especially at the methods that are best suited, the contexts in which such assessment takes place and appropriate timing to ensure that the essential learning is captured effectively and meaningfully.
In Chapter 9, Garth Rhodes and Freda Tallantyre explore how best the key skills most of us aim to integrate into our learning programmes can be assessed. There is considerable agreement nationally and internationally on what are the key skills we wish to see our students demonstrate, but less on issues such as the extent to which it is important to map, develop and assess key skills and very little indeed on issues associated with level of achievement and demonstration of progression. This chapter, based on work undertaken at the University of Northumbria, describes one model and addresses the crucial associated questions.
Three examples then follow which describe the assessment of practice in different contexts: Gill Young in Chapter 10 first considers the use of portfolios as a means of assessing students on a postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Further and Higher Education, exploring both the advantages and the disadvantages of the method. Group-based assessment