History education students' experiences of assessment at a higher education institution.
Assessment in History Education takes a wide range of strategies of which students have different experiences. Determining the mode and course of assessment is often the responsibility of lecturers, sometimes without seeking the students‟ contribution. Administering the different assessment strategies without understanding how they are experienced and their significance from the perspective of the student may drive the lecturers to a wrong direction. Literature acknowledges the power of assessment in enhancing higher education students‟ academic achievement. It also demonstrates how students experience assessment. However, there is limited literature on specifically History Education assessment. This research therefore investigates the voice of the student by tracing History Education students‟ experiences of assessment in a higher education institution. Using social constructivism as a theoretical framework, and with specific reference to Vygotsky‟s ZPD model, I worked within the interpretivist paradigm to conduct a case study design focusing on 3rd year History Education students in a selected higher education institution. I employed both focus group and face-to-face interviews to gather data. Using inductive analysis, the study revealed that students experience History Education assessment through a four-stage process. The first stage is preparation, which involves all activities carried out before the final assessment task is done or written. The second stage is engagement, which is all about attempting the given assessment task. Feedback is the third stage, and it has to do with students getting to know the results of their assessed task/s. The fourth stage is reflections on growth where students tell if and how they benefit from the assessment task given. The study revealed that students acknowledged the power their assessment experience has in creating a huge Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), but few students were keen to push to their full potential. Instead, they preferred to stick to their comfort zone within the same ZPD. It can be concluded that History Education students‟ experiences of assessment largely comprise an easy-going approach to reading, consultation, preparation and engagement activities, resulting in limited growth to a new ZPD.