J. Today’s Ideas - Tomorrow’s Technol.

Evaluation of Assessment Method to Incorporate Graduate Attributes in Building Surveying Module

Sandeep Chowdhry, Celine Garnier


Graduate Attributes, Problem-Based Learning, Assessment Strategy, Employability Skills, Assessment Evaluation.

PUBLISHED DATE December 2016
PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at www.chitkara.edu.in/publications

This study aims at finding out whether an alternate assessment strategy in Sustainable Developments module to improve the student’s employability skills and qualities. The exploratory studies, quantitative and qualitative questions acted as a data gathering instruments. The findings showed a need to change the current assessment strategy for Sustainable Developments module, proposed a new assessment approach and evaluated it. The research infers the studied institution should encourage academic staff to get familiar with the effective learning strategies, students learning styles and how to assess an assessment plan with graduate attributes model. A suggested direction for further research is to create an assessment model based on the students learning styles, assessment strategies and the workload information.


In 2009, following the suggestions from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) developed a graduate attributes model to inculcate professionalism among the students and to fulfil the needs of the employers (Edinburgh Napier University, 2009). The four essential dimensions of the ENU graduates are, 1) Application of & contribution to the knowledge, 2) Learning for life, 3) World of work prepared, 4) Citizenship. Considering the Validity, Reliability, Practicality, Cost-effectiveness, Fairness and Usefulness (V.R.P.C.F.U.) criteria (Brown and Knight,1994), the current assessment scheme in the module Sustainable Developments (BSV 10104), does not test generic skills that students have developed over the course of their studies. Therefore, providing various assessments might improve the graduate attributes through building their confidence and increase employability. This study will thus, evaluate the Sustainable Development module taught in the 4th year at ENU. It is a compulsory module for students studying on various built environment courses. The module is testing conceptual and disciplinary knowledge through a written, three-hour and essay-type examination. Although this method of assessment has advantages when dealing with large cohorts and managing tutor’s workloads, it does not teach effectively the application of knowledge which an alternate or another form of assessment might provide. Additionally, solely this method of assessment may create tension with the validity and fairness of the assessment potentially creating inequality within the whole student cohort which is against Edinburgh Napier University strategic aims.

The study seeks to find out the possibility of using an alternative assessment strategy within the BSV10104 module, to improve the student’s learning experience, employability skills and attributes. The study objectives are 1) to appraise the reasons influencing assessment strategies. 2) to identify assessment strategies available for improved learning in a large cohort, 3) to evaluate current assessment practice and develop new methods of assessment within the BSV10104 module, 4) identify the area of development, 5) assess how the new proposed evaluation strategy could improve graduate employability skills and attributes.

Page(s) 118-171
URL http://dspace.chitkara.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/1/781/1/3%20-%20Evaluation%20of%20Assessment%20Method%20to%20Incorporate%20Graduate%20Attributes%20in%20Building%20Surveying%20Module%20-%20Sandeep%20Chawdhry.pdf
ISSN Print : 2321-3906, Online : 2321-7146
DOI 10.15415/jotitt.2016.42008

The aim of the study was to find out whether an alternative assessment strategy can improve the student’s learning experience and, employability skills and attributes in the BSV10104 module. In particular the current study had five objectives 1) To appraise the factors influencing assessment strategies, 2) To identify assessment strategies available for increased learning in large cohort, 3) To evaluate current assessment practice and explore development of the new methods of assessment within the BSV10104 module, 4) Identify the area for development, 5) Assess how the new proposed assessment strategy could strengthen graduate employability skills and attributes. The study has found the need to change the current assessment scheme of the Sustainable Developments module.

A new proposed assessment strategy included the range of features to improve the students learning experience. For instance, use of interactive online discussions for reflection and grant of 5% marks for the student’s participation in online activities. Second, removal of the research activities. Third, use of the traditional exam assessment method to encompass an added assessment. Fourth, introduction of PBL real case scenario on “Sustainable construction / low carbon building design”. Fifth, formation of online groups will provide opportunities for collaborative learning”. Sixth, provision of detailed formal feedback for the students. Also, the introduction of peer-assessment and self-assessment marking strategies to provide immediate feedback to the large student’s cohorts.

The criteria’s used to evaluate the feasibility of the new proposed assessment strategy are 1) Five key criteria test, 2) Bloom’s cognitive domain test, 3) Employability skills and attributes analysis and 4) Assessment for learning environment test. The proposed added method of assessment complements well the current traditional written examination. Not only can it encourage students’ involvement and adoption of the deep-level approach to learning, but it can also develop employability skills through summarising complex information, communicating the findings, and working within a team.

It implies, the university may encourage the continuous professional development of the academic staff and promote evaluation of the assessment strategy with the Graduate Attribute model. Information from the Human Resource Department and the Research Department will help in proposing new assessment strategy to heighten students experience and provide an opportunity to the academic staff to conduct research.

A suggested direction for further research is to create as assessment model by triangulating data on the students learning styles, assessment strategies and the workload information.

  • Benzies, A. (2011) EDU11114 – Assessment, Evaluation and Support - Module Handbook.
  • Biggs,J. (1999). What the Student Does: teaching for enhanced learning. Higher Education Research & Development , 19 (1), 57–75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0729436990180105.
  • Biggs, J. and Tang, C., (2007). Teaching for Quality Learning at University . Third Edition. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
  • Biggs, J., (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university . Second edition. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
  • Biggs, J. & Tang, C., (2007). Teaching for Quality Learning at University . Third Edition. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
  • Black, P.J., Harrison, C. (2004). Science Inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Science Classroom .
  • Bloom, B. S. et al, (1964). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: the classification of edu - cational goals. Vol.2. London: Longman
  • Boud, D. (1986) Implementing student self assessment. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia. Green Guide No. 5.
  • Boud, D. (2000) Sustainable assessment: rethinking assessment for the learning society . Studies in Continuing Education, 22, 2, 151-167. http://dx.doi.or g/10.1080/713695728
  • Boud, D., Cohen, R. and Sampson, J. (1999) Peer learning and assessment . As - sessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24, 4, 413-426. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/0260293990240405
  • Boud, D., & Feletti, G. (1997) The challenge of problem - based learning. (2nd ed.) London: Kogan Page.
  • Brown, S and Knight, P. (1994), Assessing Learners in Higher Education . London: Kogan Page.
  • Brown, S. (2004-2005) Assessment for learning . Learning and Teaching in Higher Educa - tion, 1, 81-89.
  • Brown, G.; Bull, J. and Pendlebury, M. (1997) Assessing student learning in higher edu - cation . London:Routledge.
  • Chambers, E. (1992) Workloads and the quality of student learning. Studies in Higher Ed - ucation, 17, 2, 141-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075079212331382627
  • Cox, K. R. (1976) How did you guess? Or what do multiple choice questions measure? Medical Journal of Australia, 1, 884–886.
  • Cowan, J., (1998). On Becoming an Innovative University Teacher . Buckingham: The So - ciety for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press. 18. Crooks, T.J. (1988). The Impact of Classroom Evaluation Practices on Students. (14), 438–481. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/00346543058004438
  • Cuseo, J. (1992) Cooperative learning: A pedagogy for diversity. Cooperative Learning & College Teaching, 3, 1, 2-6.
  • De Wilde, P and Pilkington, B. (2006) Education in environmental construction at the University of Plymouth: the Eco-House Project . Proceedings of PLEA2006 - The 23 rd Conference of Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Geneva, Switzerland. September 2006, 773-778.
  • Edinburgh Napier University. (2009). How was the Edinburgh Napier Graduate Attributes model developed? Retrieved July 19, 2015, from http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/sas/stu - dent_development/EnhancingtheCurriculum/graduate_attributes/Pages/Howwasthemod - eldeveloped.aspx
  • Edinburgh Napier University (2010) Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy: 2010- 2015 . Available at: http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/academicdevelopment/LTA/Docu - ments/LTA%20STRATEGY%202010-2015%20WEB.pdf. Last accessed: 08/07/13.
  • Edinburgh Napier University (2011a) Effective Learning and Teaching in Higher Educa - tion Contexts Module Handbook.
  • Edinburgh Napier University - ENU (2011 b) Edinburgh Napier University Strategy 2015 – Summary of Key Performance Indicators. Available at: http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/ secretary/governance/govman/court/Documents/chair/Edinburgh%20Napier_KPI%20 Summary_20111114.pdf. Last accessed: 24/02/12
  • Edinburgh Napier University (2012a) Assessment Handbook: An integrative approach to enhancing our practice , October 2012.
  • Edinburgh Napier University (2012b) University Quality Framework Section1: the ap - proval of modules and programmes . Available at: http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/sas/ academic_quality/ExternalExaminersArchive/Documents/Approval%20procedure%20 2012-13%20%28updated%20Aug%2012%29.pdf. Last accessed: 08/07/13
  • Edinburgh Napier University (2013) Guidance for completing the Module Descriptor . Available at: http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/sas/academic_quality/QualityFramework/ Pages/Approvals.aspx. Last accessed: 08/07/13
  • Falchikov, N. (2002) In: Assessment: Case-studies, experience and practice from higher education Eds. Schwartz, P. and Webb, G. Chapter 9: ‘Unpacking’ Peer Assessment . Lon - don: KoganPage.
  • Garnier, C. (2011) Part 3: Module Descriptor Critique. EDU11105 Module 1: Effective Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Contexts.
  • Gibbs, G. (1992) Improving the quality if student learning . Bristol: Technical and Educa - tional Services.
  • Gibbs, G. (2006) In: Innovative Assessment in Higher Education Eds. Bryan C. & Klegg K. Chapter 2: How assessment frames student learning . Abingdon: Routledge
  • Gibbs, G; Habeshaw, S. and Habeshaw, T. (1992) 53 interesting ways to teach large class - es. Fourth edition. Bristol: Technical and Educational Services.
  • Higher Education Academy. (2011). Assessment Audit Tool. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resource/assessment-audit-tool
  • Hounsell, D. (2003). Student feedback, learning and development. , 67-78. Higher educa - tion and the lifecourse .
  • Johnstone, A. H. and Ambusaidi, A. (2000) Fixed response: what are we testing? Chemis - try Education: Research and Practice in Europe, 1, 3, 323–328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/ b0rp90014a
  • Juwah, C., Macfarlane-Dick, D., Matthew, B., Nicol, D., Ross, D., Smith, B., . (2004). Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback . Retrieved from http:// ctlt.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/modules/design/enhancing_learning-through_formative_ Chowdhry, S. Garnier, C. 128 feedback.pdf
  • Kelvin H. K. Tan,K.H.K., Prosserc,M. (2004). Qualitatively different ways of differentiat - ing student achievement: a phenomenographic study of academics’ conceptions of grade descriptors. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 29 (3), 267–282. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/0260293042000188230
  • Keppell, M., & Carless, D. (2006). Learning-oriented assessment: A technol - ogy based case study. Assessment in Education , 13 (2), 179–191. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/09695940600703944
  • Klegeris, A., Hurren, H. (2011). Impact of problem-based learning in a large classroom setting: student perception and problem-solving skills. Advances in Physiology Education , 35 (4), 408–415. http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00046.2011
  • Kneale, P. And Collins, C. (1996) Study Skills for Psychology . London: Arnold.
  • Kolb, D. A., (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and de - velopment. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Lindberg-Sand,A., & Olsson,T. (2008). Sustainable assessment? Critical features of the assessment process in a modularised engineering programme. International Journal of Ed - ucation Research , 47 (1), 165–174. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2008.01.004
  • London: Kogan Page. Supporting Student Learning: Case Studies, Experience, and Prac - tice from Higher Education (2002).
  • McDowell, L., Wakelin, D., Montgomery, C., King, S. (2011). Does assessment for learn - ing make a difference? The development of a questionnaire to explore the student response. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 36 (7), 749–765. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080 /02602938.2010.488792
  • Miller, N. (2002). Alternative forms of formative and summative assessment . The Hand - book for Economics Lecturers. Online: http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/ assessment. Last Accessed: 03/07/2013.
  • Nicol, D. (2007) E-assessment by design: using multiple-choice tests to good effect. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31, 1, 53–64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098770601167922
  • Nicol, D. J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated learn - ing: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice . Studies in Higher Education, 31, 2, 198–218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075070600572090
  • Pan, W., Murray, P, Cotton, D. and Garmston, H. (2012) Integrating research-informed teaching into sustainable construction education . Journal for Education in the Built Envi - ronment, 7, 1, 94-117. http://dx.doi.org/10.11120/jebe.2012.07010094
  • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2006). Code of practice for the assur - ance of academic quality and standards in Higher Education: Assessment of Students . Online: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Pages/Code-of- practice-Section-6.aspx. Last Accessed: 03/07/2013.
  • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2007). Integrative Assessment: blending assignments and assessments for high quality learning . Guide No. 3.
  • Ramsden, P., (2003). Learning to Teach in Higher Education . London: Routledge Falmer.
  • Roberts, A. (2007) Problem based learning in architecture. CEBE Briefing Guide No. 11. Cardiff: Centre for Education in the Built Environment.
  • Rodriguez, L. and Francisco Cano, F. (2007) The learning approaches and epistemological beliefs of university students: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study. Studies in Higher Education, 32, 4, 647-667. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075070701573807
  • Sadlo, G. And Richardson J.T.E. (2003) Approaches to studying and perceptions of the academic environment in students following problem based and subject based cur - ricula. Higher Education Research and Development, 22, 253-274. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/0729436032000145130
  • Scouller, K. (1998) The influence of assessment method on students’ learning approaches: - multiple choice question examination versus assignment essay . Higher Education, 35, 453–472. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1003196224280
  • Segers, M. and Dochy, F. (2001) New assessment forms in problem-based learning: the value-added of the students’ perspective. Studies in Higher Education, 26, 3, 327-343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075070120076291
  • Schmidt, N.; Norman, G. and Boshuzen, H. (1990) A cognitive perspective on medi - cal expertise: Theory and Implications. Academic medicine, 65, 611-621. http://dx.doi. org/10.1097/00001888-199010000-00001
  • Struyven,K., Dochy,F., & Janssens,S. (2005). Studentss’ perceptions about evaluation and assessment in higher education: a review. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education , 30 (4), 331–347. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930500099102
  • Teixeira-Dias, José J.C., Jesus, H.P., Souza, F.N., and Watts,M. (2005). Teaching for qual - ity learning in chemistry. International Journal of Science Education , 27 (9), 1123–1137. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500690500102813
  • The Higher Education Academy (2011) Assessment Audit Tool - Centre for Bioscience. Online: http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/ftp/resources/audit/assessment.pdf Last accessed: 03/07/2013.
  • The Higher Education Academy (2011) Employability Audit Tool - Centre for Bioscience. Online: http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/ftp/resources/audit/employability.pdf Last accessed: 03/07/2013.
  • University of Reading (2013) Assessing large numbers of students . Available at: http:// www.reading.ac.uk/engageinassessment/assessing-large-groups/eia-assessing-large- groups.aspx. Last accessed: 25/06/13.
  • Wood, D.F. (2003) ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: problem-based learning . British Medicine Journal, 326, 328-330. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7384.328
  • Zakrzewski, S. and Bull, J. (1998) The mass implementation and evaluation of comput - er-based assessments. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 23, 2, 141-152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260293980230203.