Part of our role as Curriculum Development Officers involves staying up to date with the latest developments within learning and teaching. TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment) is a National Teaching Fellowship Funded Project focused on Assessment For Learning (AFL). Embedding TESTA into our courses at Bath supports many, if not all, of the principles and themes of Curriculum Transformation. AFL is a learning and teaching approach which can be used to ease academic workload pressures and may simultaneously enable students to succeed while taking steps towards improving student wellbeing. By making hidden curriculum around assessment and feedback explicit, AFL demystifies this process for students. There are obvious benefits here, such as higher NSS scores; assessment and feedback is one area in which many subjects at the University of Bath, though successful, would like to improve.
The TESTA evidence-based approach has now been successfully used with more than 100 programmes in over 40 UK universities, and in Australia, India and the USA. Keen to expand our understanding of the TESTA approach, Curriculum Development Officers Karen Angus-Cole, Briony Frost, and Jo Hatt, headed to Solent University on 21st September 2018. Tansy Jessop, who co-led the project, welcomed us, alongside colleagues from a wide range of other universities from across the UK.
The premise of TESTA is to take a holistic look at your programme and then identify any areas where your approach to assessment could be improved. TESTA allows you to gather programme level quantitative and qualitative data to provide a rich picture of your students’ assessment experience: the quantity of assessment, balance of formative and summative, variety, distribution of assessment and its impact on student effort, feedback practices, the clarity of goals and standards, and the relationship between these factors and students’ overall perception of their degree.
Like all good research, and as with stakeholder engagement in Phase 1 of Curriculum Transformation, the following step is to reflect on this data to determine the next steps and pedagogical action plan that will remedy some of the issues that have been highlighted. The superb thing about the workshop was that it shared examples of tried and tested assessment for learning strategies too. We have now learnt which activities can help us to: develop student understanding of assessment criteria; increase the impact of feedback on student learning; and reduce workload demands on staff. We can’t wait to share these ideas and support you to implement them into your transformed courses.
Excitingly, Tansy will be returning to Bath in November to continue our conversation around TESTA. We are very much looking forward to welcoming her back and will post details about her visit as soon as possible.
Please do contact us if you have any questions or comments.
Briony Frost, Jo Hatt and Karen Angus-Cole, Curriculum Development Team
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