Prospects and Next Steps for the HEA Assessment and Feedback Community of Practice.
The Higher Education Academy’s Assessment and Feedback Community of Practice is primarily intended as a dynamic and collaborative forum for knowledge exchange and enhancement in the integrated areas of higher education assessment and feedback. This community simultaneously frames and services what is arguably one of ‘the’ fundamental functions of higher education – assessment of student learning. Whilst the issues and challenges around assessment and feedback may be all too familiar for those who design, administer, and support academic practice, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future in relation to what thinking differently about university assessment could achieve.
This is particularly important at a time of huge change for the UK sector. It is an opportunity to re-establish learning and standards rather than measurement and grades as central to effective assessment practices. It is a chance to think about how we put the significant resources devoted to assessment to better use to support students’ learning; and to improve assessment’s fitness for purpose more generally. Through the assessment and feedback community of practice, we aim to promote the widespread development and exchange and of higher education (HE) assessment practices by supporting staff at all levels to recognise the need for, as well as share and consider the means to bringing about, evidence-informed innovation.
You have no doubt been involved in communities of practice before, or at least are familiar with the concept. Communities of practice are essentially groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and a desire to learn how to do it better. Such communities emerge in different forms, and they may be comprised of local, national, or international membership, functioning either within a single institution or across a range of institutions. Where communities of practice have been, and continue to be, successful, a key ingredient has been the opportunity provided through a designated and shared space or platform that enables a group to purposefully consider and work on timely and relevant issues and challenges.
It is our hope that the Higher Education Academy’s Assessment and Feedback Community of Practice will enhance the ability of groups of academic practitioners and leaders within and across institutions from around the world, to interact with and learn from one another with the common goal of enhancing our collective understanding of how best to design, administer and evaluate assessment and feedback practices in a shifting contemporary global higher education environment. Relatedly, it is also our intention that the work of the community extends beyond the group itself, with potential to have a mutually influencing effect upon the wider student and staff population through connecting to other interrelated areas of the academic practice, such as retention, employability, or perhaps notions of wellbeing, as well as policy and practice at multiple levels within and across a global higher education network.
Thanks to our connections with academics, leaders and institutions globally the HEA is uniquely placed to connect and leverage international dialogue and evidence around assessment and feedback. It is crucially important, therefore, to consider ways to extend the reach, and maximise impact of the community for, and through, its members. To this end, we want to close with some key questions and invite your responses, since it is you who will ultimately shape and colour our ongoing developments within the Assessment and Feedback Community of Practice:
Firstly, with the process of co-creation inherently part of any community of practice:
- What do you see as the key purposes of such a community?
- What key areas/ themes would you like us to be focusing on?
- What do you see as the main challenges facing our community?
Secondly, encouraging partnership and collaboration are integral features to our vision for the community:
- In what ways, and through which media, do you feel collaboration would be best facilitated to deliver maximum value?
Finally, while our focus is assessment and feedback, work in this area is not homogenous and therefore we need to look to accommodate different purposes and foci. Being a predominantly virtual community of practice we are not necessarily limited to ‘real-time’ activities
- What are the key resources that would attract you a community of practice in assessment and feedback?
We very much welcome and encourage your input on these key questions – have your say and begin the conversation here.
Dr. Sam Elkington
HEA Academic Lead for Assessment and Feedback
Professor Carol Evans
Co-convenor of HEA Assessment and Feedback Community of Practice