It is now well established that courses should seek to use Assessment for Learning, rather than Assessment of Learning, and that the form of assessment can have a significant impact on the student experience (the “backwash” effect described by Biggs (1996)). A key component of any assessment for learning strategy is to include authentic assessment tasks which the students can see have a relationship to the “real world” (McDowell, 2012; Gikandi et al., 2011). Fostering student engagement with a “make believe” scenario is a challenge: the activities must be perceived to be “credible” if students are going to engage with them.
Simulation can be an effective way of allowing students to contextualise their learning and develop the skills they will need to turn theory into practice. It can, therefore, have a role to play in developing employability skills.
Research demonstrates that formative assessment and feedback can significantly improve student performance (Black and Wiliam, 1998) and arguably, this is even more crucial when the assessment measures skills of application that the student may not have had to demonstrate in their previous educational experiences (Ramaprasad, 1983; Sadler, 1989 cited in Jordan, 2012). Tutors often feel that students fail to engage with formative assessment, and take little notice of feedback provided (Orsmond et al., 2013).
This presentation will argue that cohorts of students are primarily strategic learners, and therefore are reluctant to engage with learning activities that do not directly feed into assessment, even where they acknowledge the validity of the exercise (Coles, 2009). It will be suggested that “formative” assessment should be compulsory and, therefore, must be part of the totality of summative assessment on the module. We have some experience of embedding compulsory formative assessment and feedback within a simulation exercise. The presentation will evaluate the successes and shortcomings of our experience, and consider alternative ways of providing formative feedback within the simulation whilst maintaining the authenticity of the task and the credibility of the summative assessment.
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