On assessment and alignment

Last week I sat the final exam of the Open University’s Certificate in Management. The version I did (B615) was a 1-year, 60-credit course, divided into 4 modules. The course has been a major component of my CPD and a most enjoyable experience. As is the case with most exams, no matter how much you’ve enjoyed the course, you’re glad when it’s over. The results will be out in December.

An interesting aspect of the course was precisely its assessment. We had online discussions, peer feedback and electronic submissions of assignments throughout (5 assignments in total)… yet the final summative assessment was a 3-hour, individual, sit-down, closed-book, handwritten exam. I hadn’t done an exam like that for over 20 years.

Is a final exam the most appropriate method of assessing students on this course? If so, is this type of exam the most suitable option? It seems that this is a prime example of misalignment between the final assessment and everything else that all students are required to do throughout the programme. Allowing the use of word-processors would have helped – not least those of us whose handwriting has deteriorated over the years by doing exactly what the previous stages of this course asks of students, i.e. using computers for all their coursework.

I look forward to receiving my result. In the meantime, I’ll continue to reflect on fit-for-purpose curriculum design and assessment choices.

Dr A Armellini
27 October 2009

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