Fit for the future: How the PGCA is designed to support assessment practitioners innovate and progress in their professional life

by The Assessment Network, 11 June 2021
Man with laptop in a library

Dr Simon Child, Head of Assessment Training at Cambridge Assessment Network and Course Co-Director for the Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies: Educational Assessment (PGCA) discusses how knowledge, authority and confidence in assessment practice can equip practitioners for the future. Here he shares how the supportive academic environment of the PGCA, coupled with a focus on the practical application of learning is what makes the course so transformative for it's students.

The 2021/22 session will adopt an entirely online learning model, providing new opportunities to widen accessibility and enrich the student learning experience, building on our successful online course delivery in 20/21. The application deadline is Sunday 11 July.

The best way to predict your future is to create it – Abraham Lincoln

How can we create a better future for our learners, teachers and society? The quotation above gets to the heart of why educational practitioners around the world are inspired to undertake professional learning that puts them in a position to meet the challenges of tomorrow. In the world of educational assessment, practitioners are challenging old ways and creating new assessment methods fit for the future.

In my role as co-director for the Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Educational Studies: Educational Assessment (PGCA), I often reflect on how the course enables students to build their knowledge, authority and confidence. This blog gives you some further information about how the PGCA is designed to equip you for the future.

In the world of educational assessment, practitioners are challenging old ways and creating new assessment methods fit for the future.

Manageable, flexible, accessible

The course is designed from the ‘ground up’ for people who are working full time in assessment organisations, universities, schools or professional bodies. The course offers a manageable, flexible and accessible blended learning experience. Content delivered through our virtual learning environment is supported by a range of live online sessions delivered by course tutors. There are also four day schools, which offer the opportunity to discuss the latest research with eminent speakers and other students. These day schools were delivered online last year, and this is continuing for 21/22.

Progression and impact

On completion of the course, there is also the opportunity to progress to the second year of a full Masters degree through the Transforming Practice M.Ed. This offers the students a useful opportunity should they wish to pursue further professional development qualifications.

Students have informed me of the confidence and influence they have gained in their work roles, innovating in their practice and improving the culture of their organisations.

From my perspective as co-course director, it is great to see where students progress to in their careers. I have been heartened by stories of former students who within a few years have progressed to Director or CEO level within their organisations. Students have informed me of the confidence and influence they have gained in their work roles, innovating in their practice and improving the culture of their organisations.

World-class student support

Students are supported throughout the course by our experienced, diverse and caring group of supervisors and unit tutors. The supervisors come from a range of educational and assessment backgrounds including primary and secondary education, English Language assessment, assessment organisations, research and psychometrics. Students are matched to their supervisors based on their interests, and supervisors stay with you throughout the course. This helps you develop a great working relationship with them.

Part of the Assessment Network

Students will also have access to up to three complementary places on the Assessment Network’s range of Assessment Practitioner Workshops.

An often-underestimated aspect of the course is the range of opportunities to engage with people with new perspectives on some of the challenges you might be facing in your professional life. We are able to support overseas applications, and the course has been enriched by perspectives from assessment communities spanning the globe from Argentina to Australia. In Unit 3, we challenge students to debate some of the ‘big questions’ facing assessment and education, such as ‘what is the future role of technology in assessment?’. Students work together to develop their stance on these questions, and form long-lasting insights.

Students will also have access to up to three complementary places on the Assessment Network’s range of Assessment Practitioner Workshops. Students can attend these workshops to supplement their learning on the course, engage with experienced course deliverers and network with other attendees.

The points above are just some of the elements that have contributed to the success of the course since it was first run in 2015. We welcome applications from the UK and internationally, and look forward to working with a new cohort of students from late September.

Cambridge Assessment Network provides professional development to the assessment community.We equip practitioners with the skills and knowledge needed to design and develop effective assessments, from an understanding of the key principles to in-depth practice-based learning in the design and delivery of successful, valid assessment. The PGCA is one part of our programme of learning for assessment practitioners and educators.

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