In February, I attended my first TESTA session via zoom, and although only attending as an observer and studying a course completely different to the one being addressed, within five minutes of the session, I was completely engrossed. It seemed to provide the right answers to my own dilemmas, or rather ask the right questions. The session was lead by our in-house TESTA Researcher, Dr Isabel Hopwood.
TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment) aims to improve the quality of student learning through addressing programme-level assessment. TESTA uses a mixed methodology to collect data and present a compelling analysis of areas for improvement to programme leaders. The three methodologies used are a programme audit (evidence from documents and the team), Assessment Experience Questionnaire (based on established assessment principles) and focus groups with students.
The session started out with a questionnaire filled with simple but thought-provoking closed and open-ended questions. Every question seemed to add a piece to the puzzle I did not know I had to complete. The questionnaire essentially explored the student’s perception of assessment and feedback. The questions were designed for the student to reflect upon the quality of their learning and challenged them to consider different approaches based on established assessment principals, at least it did in my case.
The TESTA session then followed with more course specific activities. Great use of Padlet was made, as the students were able to answer the specific questions prepared anonymously and interact with other students answers, discussions then arose from their responses and interactions. Being quite a small group made for an even more open and in-depth discussion and just like in the case of the questionnaire, the questions posed took a deep dive into the minds of the students voicing what mattered to them.
Experiencing the sessions first-hand showed me the transformative nature of the work of Bristol’s TESTA team. Our University is dedicated to education and TESTA is a great example of how to diversify and improve learning, to better prepare students for their life after study, and gives me so much hope for the future.