41 paper

Increasing success in first year courses: Assessment re-design, self-regulation and learning technologies

David Nicol
Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement
University of Strathclyde

Concerns about non-completion and the quality of the first year student experience have been linked to recent changes in higher education such as modularisation, increased class sizes, greater diversity in the student intake and reduced resources. Improving formative assessment and feedback processes is seen as one way of addressing academic failure, of enhancing the learning experience and students’ chances of success in the early years of study. This paper argues that, if this is to happen, a broader perspective on the purposes of formative assessment and feedback is required; one that links these processes to the development of learner self-regulation. Drawing on the current literature, the paper presents a set of principles for the effective design and evaluation of formative assessment and feedback processes. It then shows, through two case studies drawn from a large £1m Re-engineering Assessment Practices (REAP) project, how ICT might support formative assessment processes, academic success and the development of self-regulation in large first year classes.

Keywords: formative assessment, feedback, self-regulation, first year experience, student success