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WIHEA Seminar: Inclusive Assessment


What matters most in inclusive assessment and the need for new pragmatic regimes

This event took place on Thursday 25 May 2023, 10am - 12:30pm, on MS Teams

It was presented by Professor Sam Elkington, Professor of Learning and Teaching at Teesside University

In this talk, Sam discussed how moving to capitalise on recent disruptions to conventional assessment practices to mainstream truly inclusive assessment practices in higher education (HE) represents a pragmatic response in a period of unprecedented uncertainty and complexity for practitioners. As educators we must negotiate the demands of changing patterns of work and student learning, with the enactment of academic practice occurring across a multitude of increasingly sprawling, inter-connected, digital, and physical environments. Adopting greater pragmatism in our pedagogic designs calls for a counterculture of assessment which recognises that predominant models of assessment do not, and cannot, fully reflect what and how students learn. A new kind of assessment system is needed – one which is not biased only toward stable performative measures of student success but is instead based on demonstrable practical relevance, recognising diversity and valuing difference(s) in how learners are able to effectively navigate and satisfy the expectation to demonstrate required learning outcomes. The primary challenge is one of understanding and adapting a wider repertoire of approaches and practices in assessment to encompass new and multiple contexts that are no longer experienced as separate, virtual, or other in students’ higher education experiences. In response, Sam discussed why such repertoires require educators to think more pragmatically about the function and form of the assessment arrangements they choose to deploy, to offer students a variety of different ways in which to understand and take hold of their learning environment(s). This, in turn, requires a sharpened ‘practice sensibility’, which Sam presented as a frame for considering practical ideas and strategies for inclusive assessment task designs and arrangements that to the greatest possible extent can benefit all students, meeting them where they are, and allowing them to produce their best work.

Sam is Professor of Learning and Teaching at Teesside University where he leads on the University’s learning and teaching enhancement portfolio. Sam is a PFHEA and National Teaching Fellow (NTF, 2021). He has worked in Higher Education for over 15 years and has extensive experience working across teaching, research and academic leadership and policy domains. Most recently, Sam worked for Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy), where he was national lead for Assessment and Feedback and Flexible Learning in Higher Education.

Sam’s most recent book (with Professor Alastair Irons) explores contemporary themes in formative assessment and feedback in higher education: Enhancing learning through formative assessment and feedback. London: Routledge, 2021.

Twitter: @sd_elkington