Focus on assessment


Academics from across the country came together to collectively identify challenges and aspirations for assessment in science and mathematics. The workshop, facilitated by Chris Thompson (Monash), Rebecca LeBard (UNSW), Michael Drinkwater (UQ), was part of the activities of the ACDS project they are leading to develop a vision for assessment in the sciences.

This project addresses the ACDS priority Leading improvements in university science and teaching of the ACDS 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, committing to “drive curriculum and pedagogy reform in the Bachelor of Science that responds to the needs of students and their employers including leveraging the impact of COVID-19 to improve teaching delivery and assessment post pandemic”.

The disruption of the pandemic forced all teaching academics, including those who normally do not reflect deeply about their education practices, to think about new ways to assess the work of their students. By necessity, unplanned large-scale professional development took place across faculties of science. Collectively we experimented with many new authentic assessment practices. We should seize the moment and build on these innovations to address one of the aspects of science education that has remained a challenge for many years.

Representatives from national discipline groups shared key conversations that are happening within their own disciplines and highlighted some innovative practices. The workshop also built on the inspirational talks and discussions on assessment that took place the two days before at the ACSME 2021 conference.

Questions asked included: What does best-practice in assessment look like in a post-COVID era? Do we expect to revert back to our assessment practices pre-COVID, or do we see ourselves on a new path? Are exams still fit for purpose, and if not, what are the alternatives we value? Do we trust technology and what it can deliver, or is it creating more problems than solutions? To what degree do issues with academic integrity push us in particular directions?

This workshop will inform a position paper to be developed by the project leaders, to feed back to the deans and other senior education leaders.  This paper will identify the priorities of the community of science and mathematics educators. It will also recommend ways the ACDS could facilitate the sharing of assessment practices and resources, and the type of professional development opportunities that can be provided nationally.

>> View workshop recording