Step 5 Do I understand how assessment will help my learning?

Students tell us that they often bring with them a quite negative experience of assessment from their school days. They recall assessment being ‘done to them’ and often associate it with being punished if they did not do well. As a result, it is not surprising if students struggle with the idea that assessment is a key element of effective learning.

When coming back to a period of study it is important to think about assessment in a different way. It is not simply an assessment of what you have learned but contributes significantly to you becoming an effective learner.

The key to effective learning from assessment tasks is your engagement with the feedback you receive. Think of assessment as a tool with which to improve your learning – the feedback you gain is a crucial element in your learning journey. By thinking of assessment as an embedded part of your learning rather than just a test tacked on at the end you are much more likely to become a successful distance learner.

Some assessment tasks in distance education will be a mixture of formal tasks (such as report writing, writing essays, presentations, scientific reports and calculations) and informal tasks (such as quizzes, blogging, contributing to wikis, forum posts or discussion threads).

Often courses have learning aims or outcomes (such as those from this course, which are listed below in Activity 6) and the assessment strategy of a course is designed to help you demonstrate what you have learned.

One way to engage with assessment more confidently is to develop self-assessment skills.

Activity 6

Timing: Duration 30 mins

Practise your self-assessment skills by reviewing this course’s learning outcomes (listed below) and then considering the extent to which you have met them while working your way through this course.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course you should be able to:

  • identify areas of study strengths in preparation for becoming a distance learner
  • explore and reflect on skills that are valuable for distance study
  • identify opportunities to further develop your skills as a distance learner
  • understand the attributes of a successful distance student.

Imagine a tutor is going to read your answers and provide feedback, so ensure you are detailed in your response and give reasons for your answers.

Write a short paragraph to complete each line of text in the boxes below.

By signing in and enrolling on this course you can view and complete all activities within the course, track your progress in My OpenLearn Create. and when you have completed a course, you can download and print a free Statement of Participation - which you can use to demonstrate your learning.

If you found answering these questions difficult, go back to the ‘Next steps’ suggestions in previous sections.

Mg Mg’s reflections on this activity

1: I have identified my study strengths, which are having a study schedule where I will study in the evening and at weekends, but also three lunchtimes during the working week. I am disciplined and have said that I will study in 40 minute sessions.

2: I have identified opportunities to further develop my skills as a distance learner. They are to try not to feel overwhelmed by not having a teacher to ask or frustrated with IT issues, and to plan ahead to give myself lots of time.

3: I have explored and reflected upon skills that are valuable for distance study. These are to think more about the experience of doing something and review it more systematically before coming to a conclusion. If I do this I will engage with the four elements of Kolb’s cycle of learning which will mean that I have had a fuller learning experience.

4: I understand the attributes of a successful distance student. For me this includes being prepared by having a study timetable, knowing my learning styles, looking for ways to broaden my learning styles, and planning ahead to meet the tutor’s expectations. I also know that I have some helpful resources to guide me in my preparation. I have saved these resources from studying this course.”

Next steps

The following free short courses on OpenLearn might be helpful for you to explore to discover more skills in this area:

Learning how to learn [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Learning to learn: You and your learning

Key skill assessment: Improving your own learning and performance

Now go to Step 6 Self-assessment activity.