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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]


page 23


Assessment - Yuk?

If you were a commerce student last year you will remember completing a questionnaire on Term Assessment.

The results of the student survey highlighted the areas in which they felt assessment was inadequate, inaccurate and mismanaged.

Comments also impled what seemed to be apathy on the part of course controllers, tutors and lecturers. This implication is reinforced by staff lack of action.

Student opinion was quite clear on what it saw as the practical problems of the present system as well as the advantages.

Student Opinion Survey

There was a 75% return. This is noticeably high for such a survey. This indicates students are interested and concerned with assessment.

Courses with the highest rating were Econ.111, Accy 211 and Com. law 201. Courses with the lowest rating were Buad 111 and Accy 101.

The Advantages of Interim Assessment as students saw it:
a)more effective learning.
b)spreads work.
c)fairer indication of performance.
d)provides motivation and incentive for students to work harder.
e)provides student with feedback on their progress.

These advantages are handicapped by problems of administrating the system in practice. These practical problems result in staggered work-loads and increased pressure.

Practical Problems of Assessment.

1.Increase in total pressure on student to work harder and achieve more.
2.Increase and more continuous workload.
3.Growing emphasis on completion of assignments; rather than learning the matter.
4.Less time for extra-curricular activities.
5.Tutorials have become less of a learning situation.
6.In term assessment has encouraged cheating.
7.Use of tutors for marking assessment work has increased the inconsistency in the marks given to any one piece of work.

Increased Pressure and Workload

1.Clash of assignment dates - peaks and troughs in workload.
2.There has been inadequate communication to students on actual assessment requirement.

Too much has been crammed into a half semester course. Matter can be covered in time available but depth required of such a number of topics is greater than reasonable.

Four credit courses in some cases far too intensive.

4.Too much work required for assessment purposes - reduces flexibility for planning workload.
5.Re-testing of material in final exams was thought not necessary unless testing students overall grasp of course content.
6.Failure of staff to provide rapid feedback to students on result of assignments and tests. Little time to learn from errors of previous work.
7.Quality of tutors and lecturers becomes more important in shorter courses.
8.Strong opinion that terms requirements should be deleted and anyone enrolled in a course should have the right to sit final exams.

As one student put it:

The present system lacks scheduling and coordination. Students are often expected to hand in major essays in one week or sit three term tests in one week on top of their regular tutorial assignments, readings etc. Having all exams and projects down your throat at one go is pretty disheartening.

The Way Forward

Students criticised the way in which some departments administer assessment.

Some departments don't relate the effort required to complete an assignment in terms of marks for finals. Further to this. In-term assessment is often a token gesture on their part. To be worthwhile, it must carry specific mark value.

There are also inconsistencies between departments on the requirements for similar courses in the amount of work necessary and the value placed on this work.

A particular area of concern was the need to increase flexibility of assessment systems by providing a variety of assessment tasks, from which the student is required to complete a certain amount.

Course lecturers should seek more feedback from students on course work loads and the design of assessment systems. Many students felt that the terms requirement should be abolished.

In effect, students want assessment to measure all the skills involved in a course, not just their exam technique. In-term assessment is still relatively new in the university. Students have made it clear that there are gross errors in its administration.

Students do want in-term assessment but they don't want it as it is now.

If any Commerce students have any comments on this article or specific comments on the report, see your faculty representatives:

John Grainer

(Accountancy student - 850-885)

Robert Toothill

(Accountancy student - 797-110)

They would also be able to help any student who has assessment or workload hassles.

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