Special issue


The recent increase in the number of higher education institutions adopting block teaching has prompted questions about the appropriateness of assessment methods that were commonly used in a semesterised delivery model. This paper explores student and faculty perceptions of summative assessment methods in a block and blend mode of delivery at a higher education institution in the United Kingdom. In this study, we used a convergent mixed methods approach to explore student and faculty perceptions of different assessment methods as accurate evaluations of learning using surveys, combining Likert-type and open-ended questions. The findings highlight how traditional, single assessment methods occurring at the end of a block were perceived as less accurate in evaluating learning when compared to multiple smaller assessments that occur throughout a block. The thematic analysis revealed the latter was perceived as allowing for a broader range of skills to be evaluated while simultaneously facilitating effective workload management and timely feedback. These outcomes indicate the need for assessment redesign that considers the characteristics of a block and blend mode of delivery and illuminates the shared perception of students and faculty that multiple smaller assessments are more accurate evaluations of learning. Further research with larger, more diverse samples, accommodating for different fields of study, could further our understanding of effective assessment methods and inform our practice in a block and blend mode of delivery.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Multiple smaller summative assessments should be considered for block teaching, as both faculty and students perceive this method as more inclusive and as the most accurate in evaluating the learning of a module.
  2. Regular and timely feedback should be provided to students throughout a block, as students and faculty perceive feedback as pivotal in improving learning and achieving better outcomes.
  3. Continuous professional development should concentrate on developing skills in designing assessments with educational technologies and exploring alternative modes of assessment, as faculty have concerns about the time pressures of multiple smaller assessments in block and blend.
  4. Targeted educational initiatives should be considered to enhance students’ understanding and familiarity with synoptic assessments, as this study found a significant variance in perception between students and faculty.