The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

Table 2 provides a summary list of the alternative modes of assessment discussed in the main content. Key strengths and weaknesses are detailed briefly.

Table 2 Alternative assessment techniques and their relative merits

Method of assessment Meaning and skill areas developed
Group assessment This develops interpersonal skills and may also develop oral skills and research skills (if combined, for example, with a project).
Self-assessment Self-assessment obliges students more actively and formally to evaluate themselves and may develop self-awareness and better understanding of learning outcomes.
Peer assessment By overseeing and evaluating other students’ work, the process of peer assessment develops heightened awareness of what is expected of students in their learning.
Unseen examination This is the ‘traditional’ approach. It tests the individual knowledge base but questions are often relatively predictable and, in assessment, it is difficult to distinguish between surface learning and deep learning.
Testing skills instead of knowledge It can be useful to test students on questions relating to material with which they have no familiarity. This often involves creating hypothetical scenarios. It can test true student ability and avoids problems of rote- and surface-learning.
Coursework essays A relatively traditional approach that allows students to explore a topic in greater depth but can be open to plagiarism. Also, it can be fairly time consuming and may detract from other areas of the module.
Oral examination With an oral exam, it is possible to ascertain students’ knowledge and skills. It obliges a much deeper and extensive learning experience, and develops oral and presentational skills.
Projects These may develop a wide range of expertise, including research, IT and organisational skills. Marking can be difficult, so one should consider oral presentation.
Presentations These test and develop important oral communication and IT skills, but can prove to be dull and unpopular with students who do not want to listen to their peers, but want instead to be taught by the tutor.
Multiple choice These are useful for self-assessment and easy to mark. Difficulties lie in designing questions and testing depth of analytical understanding
Portfolio This contains great potential for developing and demonstrating transferable skills as an ongoing process throughout the degree programme.
Computer-aided Computers are usually used with multiple-choice questions. Creating questions is time consuming, but marking is very fast and accurate. The challenge is to test the depth of learning.
Literature reviews These are popular at later levels of degree programmes, allowing students to explore a particular topic in considerable depth. They can also develop a wide range of useful study and research skills.