Assessment Confidence in the Transition to Business and Management studies in HE

Gordon, Cheryl (2018) Assessment Confidence in the Transition to Business and Management studies in HE. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis presents an exploratory study into the concept of assessment confidence development, building upon previous studies in self-efficacy and academic confidence. In particular, this study concentrates on students transitioning from FE to their first year of HE studies in Business and Management and the associated assessment regime. The resultant substantive understandings of experience of this transition have been constructed with the assistance of 11 first year students, during 2 interviews across a year. The first of these interviews was undertaken in induction week and was followed by a second interview at the end of the first academic year of HE study.
An inductive approach has been taken to the production of data which has been analysed using thematic analysis and I-poem analysis in order to theorise around the influencing factors and aspects of assessment design linked to the development of assessment confidence. The subsequent findings have emerged through authentic representation of the student voice, confirmed during member checking exercises.
The main findings of this study suggest that students may be more widely influenced by their contextual experiences of FE assessment than have previously been recognised. In addition, student experiences of assessment regimes at this level are typified by familiarity, routine, repetition and modelling. In the transition to HE assessments, the students in this study experienced self-doubt, uncertainty and ambiguity leading to perceptions of risk and lack of control. Assessment design aspects of clarity, relevance and authenticity in addition to student choice and freedom are presented as key to understanding how HE educators can mitigate risk and loss of control during this transitional period.
This thesis contributes to the wider understanding of how students interact with assessment during transitional phases and in particular into unfamiliar subject areas with distinctly different assessment regimes. This substantive theorising presented builds upon the more domain specific notions of self-efficacy already associated with student ‘confidence’ in order to better design the assessment experience for students making that transition.

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