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Innovative international assessment communities evolve

Innovative international assessment communities evolve

Research 3 minute read
The approaches, intentions and passions that have driven scholars to collaborate internationally on research over many years are being increasingly deployed to cultivate international assessment communities.

These communities show genuine and substantial potential for improving the assessment of student learning, and for shedding informed light on educational outcomes.

This momentum is timely, for higher education is moving into an era that places far greater emphasis on understanding knowledge and learning, and on using evidence-based insights for monitoring and improvement. This calls for assessment resources that yield valid and reliable data, and that are efficient to implement, analyse and report.

As an independent and internationally-focused agency with a mission to improve learning, ACER is supporting higher education institutions and systems around the world to take collegial leadership in building robust, efficient and relevant assessment resources and materials.

As the agency leading OECD’s Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) Feasibility Study,1 ACER has the privilege and opportunity of collaborating with hundreds of experts globally on work unfolding in numerous systems and hundreds of institutions. After considerable design and development, many countries are entering the fieldwork phase of the study, supported by interlinked concepts, methods and practices. An international meeting to discuss results is scheduled for December 2012.

With similar intentions to international innovations like AHELO, many countries are building their own national assessment regimes. Work has been underway in the United States for some time. In recent years, the Australian Government has flagged its intentions in this area as part of quality and regulatory reform, as has Saudi Arabia. In April 2012, a Learning Outcomes Symposium will be convened in Ontario, Canada. These policy developments stimulate new perspectives on future higher education. Many countries in Asia are planning next steps.

Diverse institutional and disciplinary innovations are underway in sync with these (inter-)governmental initiatives. In Australia, ACER is collaborating with several medical schools and international experts to design and build a medical assessment collaboration (AMAC). In 2012, ACER is coordinating a series of new Assessment Symposia. The Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates have developed system-wide learning assessments to enhance institutional effectiveness.

By leveraging benefits from collaboration systems, institutions, teachers and students have much to gain from increased collaboration on the assessment of student learning. But there is significant work to be done to set foundations, to discuss and debate options, to engage learners, teachers and leaders, to realise quality enhancements and cost reductions, and to yield evidence that affirms that this work offers better—and likely ‘new’—forms of education and development.

1 Coates, H. & Richardson, S. (2012). An international assessment of bachelor degree graduates’ learning outcomes. Higher Education Management and Policy, 23(3), 51-69.

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