Teacher and student perceptions of intermediate assessment

Maarten van de Ven

In a recently published study, educational researchers of Leiden University investigated intermediate assessment. Intermediate assessment can be defined as an assessment which takes place during the course period, which can take many different forms, and is handed in to the teacher. Intermediate assessment can have many different forms, like quizzes, essays, presentations, or projects for example. Other characteristics that can differ between intermediate assessments are for example the frequency, amount of questions, time to finish, modality (written/oral/computer/etc.), grading and weight of the assessment.

Findings from research into the effects of assessment in general and intermediate assessment in particular indicate both positive and negative effects. Examples of positive effects are the following: Intermediate assessment can lead to increased time-on-task, intermediate assessments are an incentive for students to spread their study time and intermediate assessment creates opportunities for feedback. An examples of a negative effect is that assessing students frequently for grades leads to strategic behaviour, where students are mainly focused on getting grades and not on gaining a deeper understanding of the material.

The current study found that both teachers and students value intermediate assessment because it guided study behaviour and made students study more. Intermediate assessments could be seen as an incentive to study. However, opinions might differ. For example, in this study several teachers argued that university students are adults and should take ownership of their study process and their learning.

The favourable attitudes of both teachers and students towards intermediate assessment are, however, characterized by one remarkable difference in opinion between teachers and students. Teachers felt that intermediate assessments allowed them to test a broad range of knowledge and skills, but students preferred assessments that measured similar knowledge and skills to those in the final exam. This student preference for overlap is partially supported by earlier testing effect studies. Interestingly, even though students reported that being tested on the same content twice improved their learning, earlier survey studies with American college students and Dutch secondary school students have shown that students often do not use self-testing as a strategy while studying. Apparently, students need to be prompted to perform this kind of intermediate testing.


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