The University’s educational philosophy is that students should acquire a range of critical skills in testing and judging evidence or propositions as well as a sufficient grounding in a particular discipline. Courses are designed to foster independent work and thought, and students learn how to think rather than being taught what to think. Accordingly, examinations should seek to assess the identified range of skills, knowledge and understanding identified in the learning outcomes for the course. The diversified approach to teaching and learning also means that candidates in the same examination might not have been taught exactly the same knowledge of the subject.
Education Committee regards the nature and pattern of assessment to be a matter for the academic judgement of those responsible for designing and delivering courses, who will be best placed to relate the desired pattern and type of assessment to the intended learning outcomes of the course concerned. The Committee endorses the position that a range of assessment and examining practices may operate across the University, within the University’s Examination Regulations and policy framework, and subject to approval by Education Committee and by the relevant division.
Overall, assessment practices should:
- Promote the academic coherence of planned programmes of study. In designing courses it should be borne in mind that the mode of assessment, and the range of subject knowledge assessed, have a significant impact on students’ learning and therefore their understanding of their subject
- Encourage students to develop higher order intellectual skills as they progress through their programme of study. Assessment practices should therefore focus on synthesis, critical evaluation and the application of knowledge to unfamiliar problems, and should avoid reliance on testing of factual recall
- Promote the integration of different strands and topics within the subject of study. The process of revision for formal examinations encourages students to integrate separate elements of knowledge and promotes a deeper understanding of underlying disciplinary issues. These benefits may, however, be lost if students are subject to excessive assessment or assessment focussed on factual recall
- Test students’ ability to meet multiple academic demands, manage their time and prioritise their activities
- Allow tutors and students freedom to explore the subject and take intellectual risks free of excessive pressure of assessment
The Oxford Learning Institute is able to provide advice on course design and development, including assessment.