Implementing Change in Assessment Practice through Participatory Action Research: Trial through Distributive Leadership Model

By Kayo Nakazawa and Helen Muir.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Assessment practice at tertiary education has become a topic of intensive review and discussion internationally. It is widely acknowledged that assessment is crucial for learning and is a main source for directing students’ learning practices. With increasing demand to nurture graduate capabilities and generic skills alongside students’ major studies, there is a call for improvement in assessment practice to align with these new demands. This paper reports on a trial project conducted at a tertiary institution language department, which was designed to improve assessment practice. The trial took a participatory action research approach with a distributive leadership model. Through a series of analyses, presentations, workshops and round table discussions the whole of the teaching staff was engaged in a process of renewal of assessment practice for the department. The creation of a Statement of Assessment Principles emerged from this process. Based on these principles the staff took on the challenge of reworking assessment tasks for all units to be offered in the coming semester to ensure they aligned with this newly developed statement of principles. Data was collected from the participating staff members through individual and group interviews. This paper discusses the transition experienced of teaching staff members. It examines changes that took place in beliefs and understandings about assessment, their expectations and concerns about the implementation stage and their responses to the concentrated nature of the renewal process that was used in this trial. A future project will follow the implementation and will utilize the experience of the participants to develop a set of guidelines, in an endeavour to ensure this renewed approach to assessment can be sustained through staff and syllabus changes. Future papers may emerge from this stage.

Keywords: Assessment Practice, Language Education, Tertiary Education, Participatory Action Research, Distributive Leadership, leadership Development

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 10, pp.37-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 583.429KB).

Kayo Nakazawa

Associate Lecturer, Dept. of Asian Studies, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

My major research interests are second language acquisition, computer assisted language learning, Japanese as foreign language acquisition, autonomous learning, task based teaching, kanji acquisition and assessment and feedback study. I have been involved development and implementation of Kantaro (CD-Rom for Kanji learning), Gengoro (CD-Rom for beginner level Japanese language), and WebCT content. I did investigation and study mainly in five areas; mechanism in second language learning, task study in second language learning, kanji acquisition in Japanese, use of technology to facilitate kanji learning, use of technology to improve distance education. In 2005 & 2006, I was involved the project, “Whole Curriculum Approach to ICT Supported Teaching and Learning” trial conducted in Japanese Studies at Macquarie University.

Helen Muir

Associate Lecturer, Asian Studies, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, Australia

My research interests involve work with ICT supported teaching and learning in languages and issues of teaching and learning in Japanese language. This research covers the areas of teaching of intercultural understanding and generic skills in the higher education context. I have co-authored CD-ROM initiates including the later volumes of the Kantaro kanji teaching series and the Gengoro CD ROM for the teaching of introductory level Japanese. My latest project was the “Whole Curriculum Approach to ICT Supported Teaching and Learning” trial conducted in Japanese Studies at Macquarie University in 2005 and 2006.


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