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A concrete assessment framework to improve the quality of learning

A new study emphasises the importance of assessment in the development of teaching. An assessment framework of high quality is as understandable as possible and takes into account the entire process, not only a student's thesis.
Tuija Virtanen and Antti Miihkinen started their collaboration in Aalto University's pedagogical studies. Photo: Outi Puukko

Researchers Antti Miihkinen from Aalto University School of Business and Tuija Virtanen from the University of Helsinki researched the importance of an assessment framework in the learning of Bachelor's degree students. The idea for the study was conceived during pedagogical studies at Aalto University.

'Our objective was to establish how assessment works as part of the Bachelor's thesis seminar in the Bachelor’s Program in Accounting. The assessment framework had a positive impact on the understanding, self-assessment, confidence and integration of students,' explains Antti Miihkinen.

Understanding of students increased

The study sheds light on how university students can use the assessment framework as a tool for learning during courses that include both written assignments and group work.

'The idea that the journey is more important than the final product is often exemplified in thesis seminar work. The assessment framework made it easier for students to understand the role of this process, which is an important finding,' Tuija Virtanen says.

The assessment of learning often only focuses on a student's thesis. With regard to this process, the assessment framework developed by Miihkinen and Virtanen also takes into account the student's work as an opponent and course activity.

‘By telling students at the very beginning of a course what is expected of them, we can improve the quality of learning as well as help students monitor the development of their own learning. This improves motivation, because experiences of success increase and unnecessary uncertainty decreases. At its best, support of learning will increase integration and secure the smooth progress of studies,' the researchers state.

New ideas for teaching

The results of the study will bring about new ideas on how teachers can develop the quality of their teaching. According to the researchers, the development of assessment methods is important at the curriculum and university level. For example, the AACSB Accreditation Standards state the importance of the assurance of learning.

'The assessment framework is a good tool for teachers if a student is able to internalise what it says and utilise it to guide his or her own learning in the right direction. If the assessment is to have impact, an effort should be made to ensure the understanding of criteria at the grassroots level,' the researchers voice their encouragement.

Aalto University's pedagogical studies offered Miihkinen and Virtanen an excellent starting point for the development of teaching also from the scientific perspective. The researchers' article ‘Development and Application of Assessment Standards to Advanced Written Assignments’ was recently approved for publication in the journal Accounting Education, which is one of the major journals that focus on accounting education topics.

Read the article in the SSRN service.

More information

Antti Miihkinen, Researcher
[email protected]      
p. 050 5469573      

Tuija Virtanen, University Lecturer
[email protected]
p. 040 7242917

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