Developing assessment practices in higher education: student assessment in the enhancement of work-related learning and improvement

Sari Poikela, Pirjo Vuoskoski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the ways in which assessment can be developed, in the frame of higher education and work-related learning, and provides a model for context-based assessment. Empirical explorations draw on interview data (n=16) obtained from two higher educational contexts. The aim was to explore 1) the meaning of student assessment through the lens of context-based assessment, and 2) the acts of the different parties (students, teachers, and practice educators) within the work-placement assessment process. The data were analysed based on phenomenological and hermeneutical methodology. In the data, the teachers and the practice educators had a clear focus on supporting student learning, but limited resources were experienced as a hindrance. The importance of continuous process assessment was generally acknowledged by all parties, and new assessment tools were implemented. However, a question was also raised, whether students were given too much responsibility in the assessment process. Some of the educators felt that they lacked fundamental information for the assessment of student learning. Although the different elements needed for assessment and improvement were generally recognized, the focus of assessment was still largely on the products rather than the process of learning. Our claim is that development of work-related learning and pedagogy implies that the assessment practices need to be examined and developed; this again requires interaction between the different stakeholders in higher education and work-life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-39
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Professional and Vocational Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2016


  • context-based assessment
  • higher education
  • work-related learning and pedagogy
  • assessment development


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