STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCES OF A CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT APPROACH AT A HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION

M. Combrinck, M. Hatch

University of KwaZulu-Natal (SOUTH AFRICA)
Assessment is an important component of any teaching-learning process. Due to economic and historical factors many higher education institutions have been using large-scale summative assessment. However there is move away from summative assessment to formative and continuous assessment (CA). Academics are therefore re-thinking assessment practices and considering using the latter approach. One of the challenges when using CA is developing the logistical procedures for large classes. This study is based on the introduction of a CA approach for 1000 second year macro-economics students in the Faculty of Management Studies at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN). The study is underpinned by an interpretive research orientation and is exploratorive in that it aims at achieving an in-depth understanding of the second year macro-economic students’ experiences of CA. Qualitative data was gathered. The paper starts with a literature review of assessment and continuous assessment followed by a description of the research methodology and design of the CA strategy. The last part of the paper offers a discussion of the qualitative data and the findings of the study. The qualitative data indicates that CA assisted students to manage their workload better and improved their understanding of the subject content. This approach to assessment in higher education institutions requires additional research but the positive results from this study demonstrate that CA could be considered as an approach to improve teaching and learning in large class contexts.