Programme Focused Assessment – How can technologies help achieve it?

Cath Jones and myself went to the PASS (Programme Assessment Strategies) conference – Assessment Strategies: The way forward, at Bradford University last Tuesday and Wednesday (24th and 25th August). It was a long trip for us to travel from Wales but it was worth the trip.

The key theme of the conference is Programme Focused Assessment (PFA). As I understand it, PFA essentially assessment that is designed to enable students to address and understand programme outcomes in an integrative way rather than ONLY isolated learning outcomes of specific modules. In practice, it is a lot more complicated and the PASS position paper provides a good insight into better understanding the idea.

At the conference, there were a number of discussion opportunities where we were able to explore into more depth specific case studies that look at how PFA can be achieved. After the conference, I started to wonder how the two technologies we are evaluating here at Glamorgan can help to achieve PFA, and realised that our staff might already be doing some PFA with the use of Assessment Diaries and GradeMark.

A number of staff have mentioned at our interviews that Assessment Diaries have helped them look at the assessment diet of the entire programme rather than simply focusing on a single module. In particular, those that have team meetings to discuss assessment deadlines and feedback dates were able to look at the student experience from a programme perspectives. It is unclear from our interviews whether the discussions of programme outcomes feature heavily at those meetings about assessment dates, but I can see how Assessment Diaries can initiate some dialogue around PFA.

The use of GradeMark by some of our staff can also play a part in PFA. This is especially useful,  as I feel that sometimes when we talk about PFA we focus so much on the design of the assessment and we forget about how feedback also need to focus at a programme level. The use of GradeMark by our year tutors as discussed  previous post could provide a way forward. 

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