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Squaring the circle: a new alternative to alternative-assessment

Williams, Peter


Peter Williams


Many quality assurance systems rely on high-stakes assessment for course certification. Such methods are not as objective as they might appear; they can have detrimental effects on student motivation and may lack relevance to the needs of degree courses increasingly oriented to vocational utility. Alternative assessment methods can show greater formative and motivational value for students but are not well suited to the demands of course certification. The widespread use of virtual learning environments and electronic portfolios generates substantial learner activity data to enable new ways of monitoring and assessing students through Learning Analytics. These emerging practices have the potential to square the circle by generating objective, summative reports for course certification while at the same time providing formative assessment to personalise the student experience. This paper introduces conceptual models of assessment to explore how traditional reliance on numbers and grades might be displaced by new forms of evidence-intensive student profiling and engagement.


Williams, P. (2014). Squaring the circle: a new alternative to alternative-assessment. Teaching in higher education, 19(5), 565-577.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2013
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2014
Publication Date Jun 4, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 26, 2016
Journal Teaching in higher education
Print ISSN 1356-2517
Electronic ISSN 1470-1294
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 5
Pages 565-577
Keywords Learning analytics, Graduate profiles, E-assessment, Alternative assessment
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an authors accepted manuscript of an article published in: Teaching in higher education, 2014, v.19 issue 4


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