Global Advanced Research Journal of Educational Research and Reviews (GARJERR) ISSN: 2315-5132
December 2012 Special Anniversary Review Issue. 1(10), pp. 253-260
Copyright © 2012 Global Advanced Research Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Quality assurance through student assessment in Open and Distance Learning (ODL): Case study of The Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU).
Ignatius Isaac Dambudzo
Zimbabwe Open University, PO Box MP1119, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Accepted 03 December, 2012
The assessment of students is one of the most important elements of any education system including higher education (HE). A well designed testing system can spearhead educational improvement, while a poor one can sabotage the most dedicated efforts to improve instructional quality. Testing can therefore be used as a powerful and cost effective tool to improve educational quality. However, there has been very little evaluation studies of the methods and effectiveness of the assessment methods used. Informal reports by students and staff alike appear to suggest that there are variations in both practices and principles on which assessments are based. They vary widely between faculties, departments, individual courses within the same departments, and between individual members of the academic staff within institutions. The report focuses on quality assurance through assessment. It covers quality assurance in the wider sense of the Criteria 10: Student Assessment; and Area: 2.4 Student assessment practices framework as outlined by Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE). The study identified key issues for quality assurance through assessment such as comparability, consistency and accountability, the importance of transparency and the need to properly involve staff and students in the assessment process. The study managed to come up with generic assessment principles that might underpin quality assurance and different practices. In addition quality assurance of credit transfer between institutions and even faculties, assessment of problem-based and work-based learning and accreditation of prior learning also emerged. The report concluded that quality assurance of assessment in HE and ODL in particular, was a critical issue that required close monitoring and evaluation in order to continue to improve and ensure credibility of qualifications, transparency and comparability and that regular monitoring should include all the stages of the assessment process and involve students in order to take cognizance of their experience of learning and assessment. It is hoped that the paper would stimulate debate on practical issues of assessment and the ushering in of continuous improvement of both assessment and learning for quality products. Future studies could focus on comparability of assessment practices between institutions to determine and to share information and experiences on good practices for the benefit of both students and staff.
Keywords: assessment, accreditation, comparability, education, consistency, qualifications, quality assurance, reliability.