Open assessment when working with sustainability education

A. Macdonald, Sydney Ross Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is often assumed that the novelty of sustainability in a university course is all about content and pedagogy. It is thought that the selection of content and the pace and manner in which the material is covered are the important aspects of working with this complicated complex interdisciplinary field. In an effort to move beyond traditional readings as content and presentations as pedagogy we turned our attention to assessment. The first author wanted to develop methods that required students to analyse, describe and reflect on their own understandings, and the second author was eager to work with her own expertise and experience. In this short paper we focus on some issues raised by what we call ‘open assessment’ i.e. the assignment is such that the assessment needed is not known at the outset. After the introduction and a short discussion we focus on the “Five by Seven” assignment, that asked the students to choose material from a diverse set readings and then design and or develop one of several responses. It was at this point that the power of open assessment emerged. The student choices ranged from traditionally academic forms of assessment to deeply reflective methods such as poetry and personal reflections. It was these, especially the poetry, that called for a new view of assessment and learning between student and teacher and among students.
Original languageIcelandic
JournalLUMAT-B: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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