Assessment Matters in Higher Education: Choosing and Using Diverse Approaches

By Sally Brown; Angela Glasner | Go to book overview

14
Self-Assessment and Peer
Assessment

Shirley Jordan


Introduction

This chapter will discuss the self-assessment and peer-assessment exercise developed at Thames Valley University in response to the learning objectives and learning methods of the module 'Ethnography for Advanced Language Learners'.1 Although this is a highly specific context and a module which presented its own particular problems in terms of assessment (such as the issue of how we might measure cultural learning), there are nevertheless principles of general relevance to be drawn from our experience.

The first of these principles is that any form of self-assessment or peer assessment should grow out of the stated aims and objectives of the course for which it is being used, and that students should therefore be able to see clearly the rationale for adopting it. In other words, it is unlikely to work very well if it is artificially grafted on as a time-saving device. I therefore begin by explaining briefly the nature of the course, its pedagogic methods and its objectives, before going on to discuss the form of assessment which was devised.


Background

'Ethnography for Advanced Language Learners' was designed to provide students of foreign languages with a framework for intensive, interactive cultural research during their period of residence abroad. It introduces them to ethnographic research methods (e.g. participant observation, conducting ethnographic conversations and interviews, recording and analysing naturally occurring events) and anthropological and sociolinguistic concepts, in order that they may better understand and account for cultural processes both in their own and in their target culture. The module takes place in the second year of their degree course, prior to their period of residence abroad, and provides students with the experience necessary to conduct fieldwork and write an ethnographic project on an aspect of the local culture of their

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