3 February 2021: Enabling student agency in assessment and feedback

This panel session was jointly presented by Transforming Assessment and the Assessment in Higher Education Network (UK).

Session chair: Fabio Arico (University of East Anglia, UK)

Presenter 1: Juuso Nieminen (University of Eastern Finland, Finland)

"Finally studying for myself! Promoting student agency through self-assessment"

Promoting student agency' is often named as an important goal for 21st century assessment. However, the concept of 'agency' is rarely elaborated in assessment research. Also, what remains understudied is how assessment, and self-assessment in particular, could promote students' agency in test-driven assessment cultures. In this presentation, 'agency' is conceptualised through a sociocultural approach, shifting the focus from psychological understanding of individual agency to the structures of assessment in higher education. What is introduced is an experimental comparative study, in which two self-assessment models and their interplay with agency was studied. Half of the students in the study practiced formative self-assessment, but the self-assessment tasks did not count towards grades; the other half practices self-assessment as well, but in the end of the experiment they could decide their own grade. The results show that while both self-assessment models offered affordances for agentic learning, future-driven agency was only presented as students had an opportunity to self-grade their work. Thus, if modern self-assessment wishes to 'promote agency', it might need to include innovative approaches not only for formative assessment but for summative as well.

Presenter 2: Rachel Forsyth (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

"Thinking differently about satisfaction with assessment and feedback"

The first presentation in this panel showed that students respond well to opportunities to participate more actively in assessment design. This reflects our longitudinal analysis of open comments about assessment and feedback from an internal student satisfaction survey; students consistently focus on their engagement with assignment tasks and the ways in which staff support, and organise these, and rarely comment on marking and feedback. In the session, we will explore the things students say about assessment, and how this information could be used to design more engaging, and more agentic, assessment.

Further information:

Session Recording

Blackboard Collaborate archive version.