Ecological validity of assessment on foundation year

The slides accompanying my BALEAP 2023 talk can be downloaded here.

It is often argued that an educational programme, such as a university foundation year, should not focus solely on preparing students to complete their assessment tasks. Instead, a well-developed course should aim to equip students with skills that will help them be successful in their future academic and professional activities. However, such reasoning implies that the skills needed to perform the assessment tasks are insufficient and/or not directly relevant to the real-life requirements of the chosen discipline. In this talk, I will argue that this dichotomy, between preparation for assessment and developing useful real-life skills, should have no place in education. Indeed, assessments incorporated into a course need to have the ecological validity: they need to resemble the tasks that the students are likely to perform to successfully function in their chosen disciplines. My principal argument is that preparation for assessment is a great opportunity to harness our students’ engagement and channel it into positive learning outcomes.

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