Investigating-assessment practices as a starting point for change: the case of a health sciences faculty

  • Viki Janse Van Rensburg

Abstract

Introduction:

Compliance to national policy has required shifts in teaching, learning and assessment practices  in higher education .

Objectives:

To investigate current assessment practices in a faculty of health sciences as an impetus for change and to identify strategies to support lecturers in policy implementation .

Methods:

The study design was a formative, improvement-oriented evaluation.  Qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods were used.

Participants :

Nine departments' examination scripts were included in the sample . Six of the nine heads of department participated in a focus group.

Setting:

A faculty of health sciences in the Western Cape.

Intervention:

The questions in 27 final year examination papers were analysed according to National Qualifications Framework Level 8 competency descriptors as criteria. A focus group interview was conducted with heads of departments for their perspectives on challenges and enablers experienced during implementation of the policy.

Results:

Uneven use of newer assessment  practices in the faculty was indicated. Identification of challenges and solutions suggest that assessment practice could only change if teaching practice changed.

Conclusion :

Support for professional development and collaborative  action research were identified as possible strategies for implementing change in teaching and learning.

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