Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment (TESTA)  

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What is TESTA?

TESTA, originally funded by the Higher Education Academy, is currently sustained by the University of Winchester and Southampton Solent University. TESTA aims to improve the quality of student learning through addressing programme-level assessment. Over 50 UK Universities have engaged with TESTA since its early project days (2009–2012); universities in Australia, India and the USA have also engaged with TESTA. TESTA works with academics, students and managers to identify study behaviour, generate assessment patterns to foster deeper learning across whole programmes, and promote assessment for learning.

Why TESTA?

Because:

  • There needs to be more consistency between modules, across programmes, and a greater emphasis on progressively developing students’ internalisation of programme-level standards, over time, rather than relying on documentation to specify criteria at the level of assignments or modules.
  • The programme view shifts perspectives from figures/percentages and student experience surveys (e.g. NSS) to enhancement strategies.
  • It engenders a team approach. The process enables the researcher to get to know the team and programme; It’s a listening process and a valuing process. The team make decisions based on data, knowledge and guidance.
  • It enhances curriculum Design and Pedagogy; a) rebalancing formative and summative, b) making connections across modules, and c. ensuring sequencing and progression of assessment across the programme. Also, developing approaches to formative, including more authentic assessment, influencing curriculum design (content-load etc.) etc.

What does TESTA involve?

The process involves mixed research methods for the sake of a) exploring various dimensions of the programme and b) triangulating the data. The process for each course/programme includes a TESTA audit; an Assessment Experience Questionnaire; and Student focus groups.

‌The process results in a programme case study report with a summary of findings, interpretations and recommendations and an interactive workshop presenting this report.

More information about TESTA and a variety of resources can be found at www.testa.ac.uk/

Interested programme/course leaders can send an email to amy.barlow@port.ac.uk or melita.sidiropoulou@port.ac.uk