Future of Assessment – what did TEDx Glasgow delegates think?

In my 29 June post I mentioned that we had hosted a Lab at TEDx Glasgow, as part of the information gathering phase of this project.

The Lab title was ‘What does a good one look like? Recognising the skills we need to succeed’, and it generated a rich and wide-ranging discussion with some interesting ideas and comments. We have now collated all of these and I want to share some of them with you.

The delegates were asked for their views on two questions and I’ve listed against each one the main outcomes:

  1. 1. How can we ensure the content of qualifications accurately reflects what employers and society need now and in future?
  • We should see qualifications as dynamic, continuously-evolving entities rather than as being set in stone. This was important to ensure they kept pace with developments in industry and employment.
  • Changes to the content of qualifications should be made more often. Changes should reflect as many views as possible whilst managing the risks that opening up this process may create e.g. ensuring that all suggestions for change were well founded.
  • The content of qualifications needs to reflect what employers and industry need. There is a need for more dynamic continuous collaboration between industry and education to achieve this. Currently the system can be too slow to anticipate or respond to changing needs.

2. What are the best ways to collect and quality assure evidence of these capabilities so they have credibility and currency?

  • The importance of effective collaboration between education and industry in the development of approaches to and models for assessment and in the assessment process itself. Employers ‘own’ the issue of ensuring that learners are well prepared for work in their industries and so need to engage fully in the design and development of qualifications and assessments.
  • The growing importance of existing and new ‘soft skills’/behaviours/capabilities/aptitudes as being key to employability and questions over the priority attached to and relative importance of subject knowledge and these ‘soft skills’. Employers are increasingly interested in these ‘soft skills’ as key indicators of work readiness when making recruitment decisions. These skills include learning to learn, resilience, problem solving, teamwork, critical and creative thinking and process skills. They will be of growing importance as we increasingly prepare learners for new models of employment in jobs and companies that do not yet exist. There are also emerging areas that combine soft skills and content knowledge and should have greater prominence than they do in current qualifications. These include sustainability and global citizenship.
  • The need for clarity over the nature and purpose of qualifications and of what we are setting out to achieve with a qualifications framework. It is – or should be – about more than preparation for employment. Linked to the point above, qualifications can have the effect of categorising leaners in a way that masks their individuality and unique characteristics. Are there ways in which we can achieve the core purpose of qualifications and also allow individuals to demonstrate their own personal distinctiveness to a greater extent?
  • Ensuring that approaches to teaching, learning and assessment reflect the points made above. In particular how we can adopt innovative approaches to assessment including peer and self-evaluation and continuous and collaborative assessment based on real work situations. Teaching and learning approaches could inform and would need to evolve in line with these new models, implying a need to ensure the resources, capability and skills are in place. Consideration of the place of a wide range of forms of extra-curricular learning remains an important point.
  • Digitisation of assessment processes could help us to achieve many of the things described above. It should include both digitisation of existing assessments and using digital to support new approaches to assessment. It is critical that use of digital for assessment keeps pace with its use for teaching and learning. Other important considerations under digital include the digital skills of learners and teachers and the potential of new digital forms of credentialing e.g. digital badges.
  • Opportunities to learn lessons from innovators and disrupters inside and outside education, including learning how they work and what skills, knowledge and capabilities are needed in disruptive industries.
  • The potential of big data and data analytics to contribute to the development of new approaches to assessment.

Please do let me know what you think of these, and join our discussion – you can reply to this post, follow SQA on Twitter, using #SQAfutures or contact me directly at Martyn.Ware@sqa.org.uk, on Twitter at @martynjware or through my LinkedIn.


1 Comment

This topic looks as if it was generated at a really interesting and valuable TEDx workshop.
Wish I could have been there!

The points above are really useful in the way in which we drive innovation in learning and teaching. As I grow in experience I increasingly want to replace the word teaching with facilitation of learning, and it’s good that assessment is headed at least partly in the same direction with the increasing focus on the effective facilitation of self and peer assessment, as well as the design and delivery of other new and imaginative assessment approaches.
A welcome innovation but the issue of assessment design for credibility and currency still remains a challenging one, especially if looking to evidence meta-skills and meta-learning.


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