School seminar: Fit-for-purpose assessment for undergraduate chemistry in 2020: Should exams really still be part of the mix?
Speaker: Associate Professor Christopher Thompson, School of Chemistry, Monash University
Host: Dr Reyne Pullen
Abstract: The traditional approach for assessing undergraduate chemistry has been via a laboratory program with assessed reports and an end of semester exam, the latter constituting a large proportion of the final grade. Invariably, items such as online quizzes, written assignments, posters and oral presentations are used with a much smaller weighting. But given the shift in government, employer and community expectations around the role of universities and the capacity for science graduates to adequately find employment, is our assessment fit-for-purpose?
This presentation will share some of the research around the efficacy of exams for student learning: the good, the bad and the ugly. It will also canvas some of the alternatives to major exams, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages for each. Several different assessment regimes will be compared, and we will debate how well each approach prepares students for either honours/postgraduate research in chemistry, or life beyond research – the reality for a majority of chemistry graduates in Australia. We will also explore questions about where exams are still used, what format can actually measure student learning and knowledge. Is a short answer format really superior to multiple choice? How can oral examinations be used in undergraduate assessment? Are we obliged to provide feedback on end-of-semester exams, or do students sit the exam and we never speak of the subject again? The speaker will be welcoming an open discussion.