Assessment as a tool for learning
Assessment should provide a catalyst for student learning and for reflective teaching practices. Fundamental to the development of appropriate assessment must be a direct link between what is being taught and what is being learned. Both teacher and student must be able to identify this link. The teacher needs to ensure the relevance and validity of the task in terms of both the instructional process and subject objectives. Student learning results in the construction of new knowledge through a process that assembles personally identified content and skills. Subsequent assessment may be facilitated by classification of learning outcomes. The use of learning taxonomies for instructional design has long been explored in high schools, but there exists little documentation of their use as tools for devising assessment that aims to promote learning. This study is an exploration of such use in an introductory statistics course at the University of Wollongong. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives aids in the definition and classification of expected learning in terms of observable student behaviours. Its categories present these behaviours described in terms of knowledge and a set of hierarchical skills. More recent taxonomies have isolated knowledge from cognitive processing skills to generate a two-dimensional cross-classification of knowledge and skills. Through the application of one such taxonomy, task objectives and questions have been deconstructed in terms of the requisite knowledge and skills. They have also been aligned with instruction and used to design marking frameworks that organise students’ responses and provide patterns for recording student achievement.