The Impact of a Constructivist Approach to Assessment and Feedback on Student Satisfaction and Learning: A case-study

Tom O'Mahony


This paper adopts a case-study approach to illuminate some core features of assessment models that engage learners and supports learning. It explores the student perspective on assessment and feedback processes in four modules delivered by the author. Initially, the assessment literature is reviewed to identify good practice. Based on this review, key features that were implemented include the use of criteria; exemplars, model answers and assessment workshops to communicate the criteria and standard; feedback to support learning; and, in most cases, opportunities to apply the feedback in their final assignment. A student questionnaire was used to collect data. As the student intake in individual modules is low (13 – 60 students) a longitudinal approach – over the years 2011 to 2015 - was used to increase the validity of the study. An analysis of the quantitative survey data reveals that students are highly satisfied with the assessment methodology. The qualitative data identifies feedback as a key feature of the assessment environment. The analysis also reveals that students identify with feedback that corrects, guides and motivates students. This feedback, when incorporated into a feedback-on-draft assessment model, engages students with the assessment process. The main issue reported revolved around making the assessment criteria sufficiently explicit. A significance of the study is that it illustrates how both student satisfaction and engagement with assessment can be enhanced by evidence-based assessment practices.


Formative assessment, feedback, constructivism, feedback-on-draft, student engagement, case-study, questionnaire

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