Foto van de toetsconferentie op 8 december 2022
Foto van de toetsconferentie op 8 december 2022

Looking back on the assessment conference: How do you take assessment out of the student? And out of the lecturer?

“The history class was cancelled. Studied for no reason again.” It is a perfectly normal complaint by an average high school student. And it is with this natural attitude that our students arrive at Radboud University. They don't know any better: studying is done for exams. That this has all kinds of negative consequences, every lecturer knows, and with more detail and understanding of the underlying patterns and principles, teaching professionals know this too. How can we prevent or reduce these negative consequences? That question was central on 8 December during the first assessment conference of Radboud University.

Under the title Dream, dare, do, the Special Interest Group for Assessment of the TLC organised a full day to raise awareness of the urgency of scrutinising our assessment practices properly. There were keynotes by assessment specialists. Tamara van Schilt-Mol of the HAN University of Applied Sciences, Sylvia Heeneman of Maastricht University, and Jan Bransen, academic leader of the TLC, sharpened their challenge to the question of how we can take assessment out of the student and out of the lecturer. 

The approach of the assessment professionals was something different. If it is a given that students study for an assessment, how can we then use our understanding of this seemingly ineradicable habit in such a way that the negative consequences are omitted and the positive consequences - for there are some - are made greater. Along this line, an overhaul of education can then be set in motion, is the idea, in which assessing the development of our students retains its learning function and we can make responsible decisions together - lecturer and student together - about the necessary subsequent steps. 

The title of the conference suggests a route: to be able, as a lecturer who is as concerned as he is enthusiastic, to make your dreams come true and to get your students actively into learning, practising and developing mode, you have to dare to revise your assessment practice in consultation with your colleagues, and you can do that by striving for a practice that one of the participants at the end of the day called programmatic practising. That practice already exists in several higher education programmes, including the Maastricht School of Medicine. Sylvia Heeneman outlined the fascinating principles during her keynote. 

In various workshops in the afternoon, plans for Radboud University were forged. Among the participants were several programme directors. This creates hope, because to enable programmatic practice in a programme, you need well-cooperating lecturer teams. Of course, a programme director cannot turn his or her lecturers into a well-cooperating team with a simple push of a button, but if your perspective obviously involves an entire programme, you can explain to your colleagues more easily and better why revising our testing practice is necessary and calls for well-cooperating lecturer teams. 

It was only a first conference, with over fifty enthusiastic participants. But it really was a very inspiring conference, which tastes like more. The Special Interest Group Assessment can move forward with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Findings of the day and further plans for a different approach to assessing the development of students - and lecturers - can be found on the new Teams channel of the SIG Assessment. Should you be interested in taking a look, go ahead. Of course, you can also join the SIG Assessment

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