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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23
No such Code for pgprog: X5K207
No such Code for pgprog: X5K307
No such Code for pgprog: X9A102
No such Code for pgprog: X9A302
No such Code for pgprog: X9A402
No such Code for pgprog: X9A602
No such Code for pgprog: N1KC07
No such Code for pgprog: X9KD07

Department: Education

EDUC40130: Assessment

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to X9K907 Education [UK]
Tied to X5K207
Tied to X5K307
Tied to X9A102
Tied to X9A302
Tied to X9A402
Tied to X9A602
Tied to X9KC14 The Practice of Education
Tied to N1KC07
Tied to X9KD07


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • EDUC42430 Classroom Assessment


  • To have a critical understanding of assessment in relation to teaching and learning.


  • Assessment serves a variety of purposes, and is set within particular social and political contexts.
  • All systems of assessment face both technical and conceptual problems. Many of the conceptual problems relate to politics, social policy, and morality. An important theme which runs throughout this module is the interplay between technical issues and conceptual ones.
  • The notion of what to assess will be considered, and we will consider taxonomies of learning objectives both as abstractions and in their application to a variety of academic domains.
  • We will consider core ideas of reliability, sufficiency and validity across both high-stakes and low-stakes assessment. We will examine the plausibility of some of the simplifying assumptions which are made, such as (unwarranted) strong assumptions made by test constructors about the independence of items, and notions that test takers have some quantity of knowledge which remains unchanged throughout the test. We will consider those situations where conventional psychometrics might be applied safely, and those where it might not.
  • We will consider some of the technical, conceptual, and moral issues surrounding 'bias equity' and fairness in assessment, in relation to selection for college and employment as well as public certification.
  • The challenges of conducting large scale assessment programmes such as those used for the purposes of international comparison will be explored. Techniques of formative assessment will be a focus of the module; to support student's own learning, and to illustrate the principles of formative assessment, we will engage in formative assessments throughout our working sessions.
  • The role of assessment as a bridge between different knowledge communities (testers; cognitive psychologists; domain experts; classroom practitioners) will be explored.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of assessment in relation to teaching and learning across a variety of educational contexts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • Critically discuss issues relating to assessment across a variety of educational contexts;
  • Examine and contextualise the functions of assessment;
  • Critically evaluate current assessment practices across a variety of educational contexts;
  • Understand technical and conceptual issues across a range of assessment methods.
Key Skills:
  • Through their essays students will demonstrate the ability to:
  • undertake a search and synthetic review of research literature,
  • summarise and critique research-based literatures;
  • communicate ideas effectively, in writing, to an advanced level;
  • learn independently.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Through lectures and seminar teaching supported by Study Guide resources. The Study Guide includes preparation for and follow up to teaching activities. This directed independent work is an important part of the module. Lectures enable the ideas of the module to be considered. Student-led seminar work enables students to develop their understanding of the ideas and consider them in a range of professionally relevant contexts. Activities in seminars include a variety of active learning approaches including discussion, group work, presentations, question and answer sessions, individual tasks. Preparation for the assignment involves students in wide reading and critical reflection on ideas of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 1 hour 8
Seminars 8 2 hours 16
Preparation & Reading 276
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment (i) Journal Article Review 1500 words 30%
Assignment (ii) Essay 3500 words 70%

Formative Assessment:

Verbal feedback is given to students' contribution during class teaching sessions. Staff can be contacted for individual help. Written formative feedback is provided for draft work or essay plan [700 words max.] for assignment [ii].

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University