Reimagining student assessment

How can we make assessment work for learners and learning in a rapidly changing world? How can we establish where students are at in their learning, including in the hard-to-measure skills and attributes they need to flourish in life?

Experts in education practice, policy and research will be exploring these questions and more at Research Conference 2022, where the theme is ‘Reimagining assessment’. The online event is hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and takes place from 22-25 August. Conference organiser and ACER Senior Research Fellow Dr Claire Scoular shares more information about the theme and the event in today’s Q&A.

Hi Claire, first of all, can you give Teacher readers an overview of this year’s ACER Research Conference theme?

This year’s theme is all about reimagining assessment. We are considering the process of establishing where students are in their learning, even in hard-to-measure skills and attributes. We are reconsidering education’s structures, processes and practices to embrace an opportunity to better meet learners’ needs. And we are trying to revitalise the conversation between educators, researchers and policymakers around assessment to improve learning for every student.

Why has this theme been chosen for Research Conference 2022?

In an ever-evolving world, we need to reimagine assessment to better serve the needs of learners and learning. ACER’s understanding of what successful learning is has been altered based on evidence that in any given Year, students are at different stages of learning and advancing at different rates. Successful learning is beginning to be understood as making progress rather than successfully meeting a defined standard.

Effective assessment provides evidence of student achievement and progress to inform teaching and learning. That means collecting evidence on the extent to which students have gained the skills and knowledge that we deem important. It further means presenting the data collected in a format that supports evidence-based teaching and maximises student learning growth.

What do you expect participants to gain from attending Research Conference?

Educators, researchers, policymakers and others with an interest in improving learning for every student will gather to explore assessment from many angles. These include meeting the needs of learners in a changing world, greater emphasis on self- and peer- assessment, changing assessment mindset among educational stakeholders, policy-driven advances to assessment, and the use of technology to provide targeted learning and assessment.

We also have two Masterclasses this year. A return of our twice sold-out Masterclass on learning progressions in reading and mathematics from last year, and a new offering about how assessment can be used to develop student self-regulated learning. Participants will reflect on the role of metacognition and motivation in learning and develop capability in supporting students to set goals, seek help, respond to feedback and use self-assessment. Participants will collaborate with each other to design and evaluate strategies for developing self-regulated learning in students and investigate how these strategies strengthen the foundations for life-long learning.

This is an online event – what if teachers and school leaders can't attend every session or miss something they want to return to later?

We are hoping to return to face-to-face next year, but for this year we will utilise the flexibility of delivering virtually. We have secured some excellent international speakers in addition to our Australian speakers. We have introduced twilight sessions (7pm-8pm) to provide some alternative timings.

Much like last year, we will record all of the sessions and upload these to our program and access will be provided for a period of time after the conference. So attendees can watch any of the sessions at a time convenient to them. Our speakers are preparing short research papers that will be published as proceedings in time for the conference, to augment the experience of watching live or on demand.

Research Conference 2022 ‘Reimagining assessment’ runs from 22-25 August. Click on the link to explore the full program and register for the event.

Stay tuned: Teacher will be speaking to some of the keynotes and presenters in the lead-up to Research Conference 2022.