Student engagement with a novel assessment strategy

Jordan, Sally and Bolton, John (2024). Student engagement with a novel assessment strategy. International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education, 11(1) pp. 1–19.



The study investigated the impact on student engagement and achievement of a "formative thresholded" continuous assessment strategy in which students had to meet a modest threshold, but their continuous assessment marks did not contribute to their final grade. Students were free to choose their own blend of tutor-marked and computer-marked assignments provided they met the threshold in a minimum number of assignments. For students reaching this threshold, the final grade was determined solely by an end-of-year examination. This assessment strategy was compared with one in which summative assignments contributed to the final grade alongside the final examination. The methodology took the form of data analysis of assessment records from more than 3500 anonymized students over a period of 7 years. Evidence was found for improved student engagement under the formative thresholded assessment strategy, with students choosing to complete many more computer-marked assignments, balanced by slightly fewer tutor-marked assignments. There was no change in overall retention. Many students made use of the capability to repeat different versions of the computer-marked questions. There was some evidence of students gaming the system (repeating questions until they obtained a version they had seen before), though most students did not do this at all and only a small number did so regularly. Students appeared to make better use of model answers, provided in response to three incorrect tries at a question, than of hints provided after each try. It was noted that the formative thresholded assessment strategy has potential for wider use.

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