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Enhancing Assessment for Learning through Feedback and Self-Assessment in Law

Author Cliodhna Dineen
Abstract Assessment is closely linked to teaching and learning and it is important that assessment be fair, valid, and reliable, promotes deep learning, transparent and moderated (Race, 2007). A clear marking criteria and feedback is crucial to this assessment process. Most educators will relate to Ecclestone's (2001) article, 'I know a 2:1 when I see it', because many believe this to be true. However, one important component is missing here ; communicating this to the learner. Therefore, feedback to the learner on assessment is crucial to the effective learning process. The challenge for most educators is how to ensure that the learner in fact engages with both the marking criteria set out and the respective feedback. As a result of this engagement, the learner then improves in their overall performance and develops as an independent learner. This paper will present a learning initiative undertaken in teaching and assessing a module, Criminology, on a law degree programme, the LLB (Hons) in Irish Law. Initially the goal was to ensure the learners actually engaged with the marking criteria and feedback, however, the development of learners into more independent learners and critical thinkers was also to the forefront of this initiative. This involved self-assessment on the part of the learner in order to enhance and maximise the engagement with marking criteria and related feedback. Sendziuk (2010) experimented with assessment when he chose to withhold grades so that the learners would be obliged to engage with the feedback. I conducted a similar exercise with my class involving self-assessment, and found it substantially enhanced the learning. What was novel about this initiative was the fact that detailed marking criteria and qualitative feedback was provided to each learner on their work. The learners then assessed their own work based on these criteria and feedback and were obliged to engage with same. This was followed by one-to-one feedback sessions with each learner. This teaching and learning initiative is particularly innovative in legal education. This paper will outline the initiative, explaining the background to it, the process and the findings.
Keywords Assessment, Engagement, Teaching and Learning, Marking Criteria, Feedback, SelfAssessment, Collaboration, Enhancement, Independent Learning, Legal Education
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2012
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