Must, should, could: competency testing and pathways to more inclusive assessment practices

Dr Barrie Cooper & Dr Layal Hakim

Creating more inclusive assessments requires careful analysis of what we are trying to achieve and a deconstruction of the multiple purposes of assessment.  Careful consideration needs to be given not just to mitigating the potential impact of forms of assessment through additional time for example, but redesigning assessment patterns and considering alternative modes of assessment, particularly with a view to the validity of the assessment.

Inspired by competency testing approaches such as the driving test and assessment patterns in medical education and in dialogue with advisers on inclusive assessment, Barrie has successfully introduced repeatable anytime anywhere computer-marked assessments into mathematics to test key competencies.  Layal has transferred some of this learning to our first-year, with the aim of closing the attainment gap between students with or without Further Mathematics A-level on entry.

Barrie and Layal will host discussions around rethinking modes of assessment based on the “must, should, could” trichotomy used frequently in schools, exploring examples of repeatable competency-based assessment from their own practice.  A practical task during the session will be for attendees to identify an assessment or suite of assessments and analyse in small groups the extent to which these could be redesigned to be more inclusive and valid.


10 minutes: Purposes of assessment icebreaker, discussion and introduction

15 minutes: Must, should, could and competency-based assessment: principles and examples

25 minutes: Pair/groupwork: analyse an assessment to identify competencies versus other elements; redesign, as necessary; share ideas as discussion

10 minutes: Case study: equalising opportunities and reducing the attainment gap in first year mathematics

15 minutes: Final discussion, Q&A.

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