Read Jones and Asensio(2001), ‘Experiences of assessment: using phenomenography for evaluation’.
As you read, consider the following questions:
- In the example provided by Jones and Asensio, do you think there was any way that the design of the assessment led to the students’ divergent understandings of the task?
- How would you respond to the problem raised in this paper if you were asked to design a learning activity or an assessment?
It depends as much on how assessment is carried out, as to the design of the learning. If a tighly prescriptive, tick-box response is required to prove that the student can read, draw common interpretations and put it down in a standard, structured way then there should not be room for interpretation, perspective, point of view or originality.
This isn’t maths, there is always going to be more than one responce.
I find in this paper of far greater interest the points regarding interpretation of others’ intentions in order to be able to work together.
Enemies can meet in a debating chamber because they know the rules and the desired outcome; they may give very different responses in a written assessment.
If this is the case then I assume that the materials being discussed here are for an undergraduate programme.
Course structure can invite students to fulfil all manner of tasks by offering points towards assessment scores. In my experience this has been a completely futile endeavour if my contribution then widely misses the mark as interpretted by a system that requires you to line up 1000 match sticks in a particular way.
(Research by the way shows that if you make a task optional no one does it; why offer it then?)
I celebrate the idea that ‘students’ experiences vary in what may be unpredictable ways from the course designers’ intentions. (Jones & Asensio, 2001)
I’ve worked all my carrier where originality and creativity are applauded. ‘Creativity is mistakes,’ so if a student gets the wrong end the stick in their response I’d be keen to have built in to the marking the flexibility to accommodate this.
So, is it a problem?
That depends on the desired outcomes, the seriousness of going slightly or a long way off the intended target and whether the intention is to get a stock answer from each student, or constant variety.