Assessment literacy is the capability of staff and students to make sense of assessments and, armed with this understanding, to exercise more control over teaching and learning. When designed and implemented effectively, formative assessment can help to develop student assessment literacy. According to Price et al. (2012), assessment literacy includes sound knowledge of the following:
- connectedness of assessment and learning
- assessment principles such as reliability and validity
- assessment techniques and methods
- assessment criteria, standards and policies
- feedback purposes and processes
Furthermore, the development of assessment literacy can also involve the acquisition of skills: peer and self-evaluation and metacognition, i.e. conscious reflection on assessment techniques and methods
Why is it important? Assessment literacy enables students to progress in their learning by making the most of formative feedback as they develop a clearer understanding of how this feedback relates to intended learning outcomes. It is important that academic staff are assessment literate, too, for the sake of high quality design and application of assessments, and in order to model good assessment practices to learners.
What can I do? Strategies that require students to actively engage with assessment will result in deeper and longer-term development of assessment literacy.
- What activities do you use to ascertain students' current assessment literacy levels?
- Is there a balance between formative and summative assessments?
- Do you engage students as partners in the review, selection and design of assessment?
- Do you offer students opportunities to engage with assessment criteria and standards, to practise skills of peer and self-assessment, and to comprehend intended learning outcomes via formative assessment tasks?
- Do you offer students Turnitin training in the formative use of this plagiarism detection software? Designing out plagiarism
- Do you encourage communication between staff and students about assessment matters? This could be achieved through the provision of assessment exemplars with opportunity for students to pose clarification questions, student-generated assessment FAQs uploaded to Blackboard Learn, discussions between staff and students about assessment methods and expectations, and highlighting and discussion of key points from assessment reports.
Price, M. et al. (2012). Assessment Literacy: The Foundation for Improving Student Learning. Wheatley: Oxford Brookes University, p.10.