Assessment choice and student confidence: impact of level and scaffolding for success

Dr. Laura Bennett and Sara Bird, UWE Bristol 

Presentation slides


As part of a wider Inclusivity for Learning project, UWE Bristol are preparing to pilot/expand upon opportunities for student choices in assessment, both in terms of topic and mode. Extant literature suggests that the process of choosing can reduce student anxiety (e.g. O’Neill, 2010) however, where the authors have offered choices within student programmes, we personally observed:

  • increased stress related to decision-making while making the choice
  • post-choice anxiety and ongoing reconsideration of choice.

To explore this further, we are undertaking 4 focus groups to explore student perceptions of such choices, and how level of study impacts upon student confidence and anxiety. It is intended that this will be through collaboration with student leads, and be used to develop a larger study to assess impact of other factors besides level, such as ethnicity, country of main residence, educational background, gender etc.

This session will present the initial findings from these groups, and guide discussion about how universities can support students in developing their confidence and ability in choosing assessment, and reducing anxiety once that decision is made.   If selected, we would like the workshop to form part of our research and any outputs from the session would form part of the anonymised project data set.

Both presenters are members of UWE’s Inclusivity for Learning Group, leading a workstream developing and piloting greater choice for assessment, both in terms of topic and mode.


Overview – a summary of our work so far at UWE Bristol, and preliminary feedback from focus groups on assessment choice at each level of study (15 mins)

Opening discussion – drawing upon attendees’ experiences and observations of assessment choice to explore resonance in their institutions/disciplines, and perceptions of impact of student level (15 mins).

Break out groups – developing scaffolded approaches to assessment choice over students’ university careers: proposals (captured on Mentimeter for later distribution) (30 mins)

Feedback – groups provide feedback on their proposals and conclude with group discussion and final observations (15 minutes)

Workshop participants will be invited to keep in touch with the project team and to receive project updates.

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