An evaluation of the impact of alternative assessment methods on the first-year clinical technology students' performance and perceptions in Psychodynamics I.
Assessment is the single most powerful influence on student learning, and if it is not designed well, it can easily undermine the positive academic benefits of our teaching and learning. It is therefore important to regularly review and reflect on our teaching, learning, and assessment, especially, conventional individualistic conceptions of assessment practices taken for granted in institutions of higher learning. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether involving students in assessment practices in higher education would help them acquire some understanding of how assessment and grading work, thereby influencing their approaches to learning. Self and peer assessment are used in this study as instructional strategies to support student learning, and are integrated into essay-writing, one of the conventional methods of assessment used in an academic course. The objective was to evaluate the impact of self and peer assessment on students’ learning. The study’s rationale was to involve students in the assessment of their own work and work of others in order to improve substantive acquisition of subject knowledge and understanding, thereby improving their academic performance and achievement. Qualitative data were collected using mainly questionnaires and interviews to solicit students’ perceptions about the impact of self and peer assessment. Quantitative data were used to supplement and complement the questionnaire and interviews methods. Results showed that in the initial involvement in assessment practice students demonstrated inexperience, uncertainty, and deficiency in assessing. There was observable overmarking and undermarking in self and peer assessment, respectively. However, the research study indicated that there were some academic benefits if students are involved in assessment practice over time. There was an overall approval and appreciation of self and peer assessment by students. Furthermore, self and peer assessment promoted interactive, collaborative and cooperative learning among students as opposed to competitiveness. Given the small-scale nature of this research study, there was limited improvement in the development of assessment skills, but a marked improvement in writing an essay.