Future of Assessment – Discovery and Definition

SQA is taking a significant further step in determining the role we can play in helping to define the future of assessment.

Working together with respected education consultants, Alpha Plus, we have arranged a meeting of an ‘Assessment Expert Group’ comprising of experts in assessment, and leaders in digital technology and data science in education.

The obvious question is why put these two groups of specialists together?

It’s rare for leaders in assessment and digital technology to come together, more so that they will be looking at the main issues, challenges, and opportunities facing awarding bodies over the next five to ten years. Their insights and collective experience will help us discover the approaches we need to adopt when developing assessments for careers, and industries that themselves may not yet exist.

One key and distinctive aspect of our approach is that we will share the outcomes of the Assessment Expert Group for others parties to make use of and comment on. We hope this will help to inform an ongoing discussion in the assessment, and digital communities about how assessment could and should look in future at least in the UK.

But this is just one part of the actions we are taking to ensure that our approaches to assessment remain at the forefront. This structured engagement with external experts in assessment and digital technology is complemented by collaboration with our own stakeholders, as well as seeking the input from other interested parties.

Uniquely, we’ve commissioned Young Scot, Scotland’s’ national youth information and citizenship charity, to form an Assessment Futures Vision panel, comprising of young people aged between 16 and 24 who will collaborate and explore issues surrounding the use of digital technology in assessments; creativity and new ways of learning; changes in the world of work; defining the skills needed for future success; and how these skills could be measured. Panel members will also reach out to young people from a wide range of background across Scotland to ensure their views are heard. Young Scot are now inviting applications to join this panel.

This will be the first time young people in Scotland have been asked for their views on this area in such a systematic way. It’s a vital part of our discovery and research process that we work with the young people who primarily, will be the ones most affected by any changes that are implemented over the coming years.  Their input is essential to our understanding the changing learning environment in which they are immersed.

Earlier this month, we also hosted a successful Discussion Lab session at the recent TEDx Glasgow conference, where delegates were asked to discuss their views on the future of assessment. We heard first hand from employers, industry representatives, training managers, college lecturers, and students about their views on the issues that will affect the skills and competencies that young people will need in the future.

We are also is broadening our skills base too to address the research challenge we face, by hosting a MSc Data Science student on a 12-week placement from the University of Stirling.  The student, who is sponsored by The Data Lab, is reviewing the potential opportunities that Big Data offers for the future of assessment, and how we can capitalise on it.

These activities are supplemented by continuous engagement with SQA customers and suppliers; ongoing environmental analysis, taking the temperature at sectoral events and conferences, and comments and articles in the media.

Through these activities, we will develop a vision of the future of assessment that draws on a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This vision will provide the basis for SQA to define how we can ensure our assessments meet the future needs of learners, employers and society.

If you would like to contribute to this debate please do so by following SQA on Twitter, using #SQAfutures or contact me directly at Martyn.Ware@sqa.org.uk, on Twitter at @martynjware or through my LinkedIn.

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