Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Department of Education, gives a talk for the Department of Education Seminar series on 19th October 2015. Co-written by Professor David Andrich. Introduced by Dr Therese Hopfenbeck.
Educational assessments define what it means to have learned and therefore have a huge impact upon teaching and learning. However, there is remarkably little connection between research and theory on learning and on educational assessment. Given the voluminous assessment that takes place annually in systematic ways in most nations it is surprising that more has not been gained from assessments in the development of theories of learning and vice versa. In this presentation, we look at the relationship between learning and assessment, consider theories of learning and theories of assessment and draw the conclusion that they should be developing more closely if assessment is in service of the goals of education. We consider fundamental aspects of assessment theory, such as constructs (what is being assessed), unidimensionality, invariance and quantifiability. We distinguish educational assessment from psychological assessment. The impact of high-stakes tests for teaching and learning is normally considered in the literature. We show how less traditional cases of international tests affect student learning. The main message is that assessment’s effects upon teaching and learning need to be at the forefront to a larger extent in assessment research and practice to ensure systemic validity.