Assessment quality in tertiary education: An integrative literature review

Maarten van de Ven

Recently a new review study on assessment in Higher Education was published. In this study 78 peer-reviewed journal articles were studied. The review shows that all the quality criteria for assessment are clustered within the three main themes of quality criteria: validity, transparency, and reliability. This suggests that, beyond validity, transparency, and reliability, no other quality criteria need to be distinguished.

Furthermore, the results reveal that there is no uniform conceptualisation of assessment quality. In fact, there is little consensus among academics, particularly regarding to the assessment quality criteria validity and reliability. assessment quality evolved in the 20th century, and it is subject to change. In daily practice, books, standards, and research articles, the same terminology is used; however, this does not imply that identical terms have the same meanings for different stakeholders. Thus, one implication of the present study is that stakeholders should be aware that conceptualisations might differ so they should be made explicit to avoid ambiguity.

Regarding the perspectives of stakeholders, there appears to be no results for perspectives on the themes of assessment quality criteria, validity, transparency, and reliability separately. Instead, the stakeholders’ perspectives appear to be on assessment quality, in general, or on criteria within the themes of the assessment quality criteria, such as students’ perceptions of authenticity or fairness. This is remarkable because stakeholders are most affected by inferior assessment quality.

To summarize, this review study provides a clear and overarching conceptualisation of assessment quality in tertiary education. Teachers, educational advisors, and managers that are tasked with developing and implementing policies to guarantee and improve assessment quality can use the results of this study as input for conversations among students, staff, and experts. In these discussions, a consensus should be reached about what assessment quality means for the organisation and what factors should be considered in order to guarantee and achieve assessment quality. Based on those conversations and the results of this review study, teachers, educational advisors, and managers can translate their conceptualisation of assessment quality into guidelines, measures, and facilities, which can be used to assure, evaluate, monitor, and improve assessment quality in educational practice.

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