Designing effective assessments and items

Designing effective assessments and items

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Date: 04 - 18 Nov 2020 Venue: Online
Type: Workshop series Fee: £225

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This interactive series of three workshops will provide you with a practical approach for designing effective assessments and items for a range of educational purposes. Taken consecutively over three weeks, each session builds on the learning from the last, with a chance to implement and reflect on the content in between. 

The workshops have been designed for anyone with a responsibility for writing questions, developing assessments or managing the production of tests, examinations and other assessments. 

If you are new to question writing, or have limited experience, this series will give you everything you need to get going. Or if you are a more experienced setter and want to refresh your skills, or are involved in training others in question writing, this series will increase your understanding of the underpinning principles and boost confidence in your practice.

Workshop dates

Week 1 04 Nov 2020 | 12:30 - 14:30 (UK time) Title: Creating your assessment strategy and 'blueprint'
Week 2 11 Nov 2020 | 12:30 - 14:30 (UK time) Title: Optimising your item design processes
Week 3 18 Nov 2020 | 12:30 - 14:30 (UK time) Title: Understanding and optimising your mark schemes

Course outline

This series of three workshops will provide you with a guide to the effective development of assessments and individual items. You will learn about the principles of writing good exam questions and be given an opportunity to evaluate examples of questions and mark schemes, supported by practical information and guidance. 

By the end of the three weeks, you will be equipped with a framework for designing valid and reliable assessments. 

  • Week 1 - Learn about the development and design of an assessment ‘blueprint’, by linking the principles of good assessment (such as validity, reliability and fairness) to the key practical decisions you make when designing assessments
  • Week 2 - Explore the craft of writing and reviewing assessment items utilising findings from research studies on key aspects of item writing 
  • Week 3 - Cover the principles of mark scheme design, including how to write effective levels-based mark schemes that contribute to good reliability

In addition to the workshops, you will take away resources to support you in applying the learning to your own context and developing your future assessment practice.

Key learning outcomes

By the end of the three sessions you will have:

  • Learned key principles for designing assessments and items and how these link to practical decision making
  • Practiced methods to draft and review items, diagnosing issues and resolving them, improving confidence in your practice
  • Identified how to use good principles of design to create effective mark schemes and justify them, giving you the tools to advance your practice

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Course trainers

Nancy Sneddon

Nancy Sneddon has worked in the field of English language teaching and assessment since 1990. For ten years she worked as an EFL teacher, director of studies, and teacher trainer in various language schools in this country and abroad. She then worked for Cambridge Assessment English, part of Cambridge Assessment, for eight years, managing the production of a variety of ESOL examinations. Since 2008, she has been working in a freelance capacity as a consultant, materials writer, principal examiner, teacher and trainer. She has an MA in Applied Linguistics.

Annabel Charles

Annabel Charles has a first degree in English and Latin and an MA in Educational Assessment. She began her career as an English teacher in mainstream secondary schools, and then worked on a national test development programme and related projects in the research department at Cambridge Assessment. For the last thirteen years she has worked as a freelance consultant on a variety of projects linked to curriculum development, training and assessment.

Annabel has worked for national bodies such as QCDA, Ofqual and STA, awarding organisations and other assessment agencies and local authorities and schools. She is a Principal Examiner for an English specification and has developed items for a range of tests and examinations, including key stage 2 tests, GCSE and Functional Skills. She is a Chartered Educational Assessor and is a tutor on the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Assessment run by The Faculty of Education, Cambridge and Cambridge Assessment.

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