Towards a personal best: A case for introducing ipsative assessment in higher education
The central role that assessment plays is recognised in higher education, in particular how formative feedback guides learning. A model for effective feedback practice is used to argue that, in current schemes, formative feedback is often not usable because it is strongly linked to external criteria and standards, rather than to the processes of learning. By contrast, ipsative feedback, which is based on a comparison with the learner's previous performance and linked to longterm progress, is likely to be usable and may have additional motivational effects. After recommending a move towards ipsative formative assessment, a further step would be ipsative grading. However, such a radical shift towards a fully ipsative regime might pose new problems and these are discussed. The article explores a compromise of a combined assessment regime. The rewards for learners are potentially high, and the article concludes that ipsative assessment is well worth further investigation. © 2011 Society for Research into Higher Education.
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