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Student-Focused Learning and Assessment

Involving Students in the Learning Process in Higher Education

Edited By Natasha A. Jankowski, Gianina R. Baker, Erick Montenegro and Karie Brown-Tess

This contributed volume explores institutional and programmatic policies and practices which actively engage students as partners in improving student learning. This entails an examination of the degree to which students are partners in the assessment and learning processes and the characteristics of these partnerships. This volume showcases student partnerships, as well as presents a history of institutional culture affecting student learning, the role of students in teaching and learning, and brings student voices and perspectives to bare through research from a variety of institutional types. Case studies, current programs and activities, and a model for culturally-responsive assessment are highlighted to better understand student-focused learning and assessment. Implications for faculty, staff, and administrators are questioned. Overall, this volume links research to practice, and offers faculty, practitioners, and administrators different forms and methods of including students, while keeping issues of equity in mind.

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1. Student Perceptions of and Involvement with Assessment in Higher Education



Students who enter higher education have vast prior experiences with assessment of learning, particularly in the United States, where under the auspices of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation they have been annually tested in high-stakes standardized tests with implications for the secondary schools they attend. Understanding students’ experiences with and perceptions of assessment is vital to ensure that a meaningful assessment process is undertaken that provides valid results in a course, within a program, or across an institution. But it also speaks to the realization that students come to higher education with perceptions of different assessment practices that are meaningful (or not) to their learning process. In short, the way a student perceives assessment impacts how that student approaches it and their learning. As Struyven, Dochy, and Janssens (2005) argue,

The way in which a student thinks about learning and studying, determines the way in which s/he tackles assignments and evaluation tasks. Conversely, the learner’s experience of evaluation and assessment determines the way in which the student approaches (future) learning. (p. 326)

If the student thinks that assessment is asking for regurgitation of material, s/he will study for it by memorizing, usually preparing at the last minute, and only acquiring a low-level of understanding that does not persist past the assessment itself. If the assessment is engaging and related to high-quality learning outcomes as part of a larger, intentionally designed learning experience, the...

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