Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module EDUC42630: Research into and Using Assessments

Department: Education

EDUC42630: Research into and Using Assessments

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • Standardised Tests and Exams, Classroom Assessment and Judgement-based Assessment.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Develop students’ ability to reflect critically on and investigate problems and challenges in educational assessment.
  • Enable students to understand recent developments in assessment practice and research.
  • Develop students’ understanding of how assessment can and has been used in the making of policy.


  • Challenges and problems in conducting good and adequate assessment.
  • Recent developments in assessment practice and research.
  • Advanced techniques in developing and analysing assessment tests.
  • Impact and implications of assessment for educational practice and policy.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module students should be able to: Outline and discuss the major contemporary issues in assessment, for example:
  • The meaning and influence of dimensionality of an assessment.
  • Ways of conducting computer-based adaptive assessment.
  • Test equating and how this may be used to investigate standards over time and compare results from different tests.
  • Generate and defend research designs and the associated methods appropriate for investigating assessment issues.
  • Outline and criticise epistemological perspectives relating to educational research.
  • Describe and discuss evidence-based policy and practice, both at a political level and for the individual teacher.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of the module students should be able to:
  • Use advanced techniques when developing and analysing assessments, including:
  • Dimensionality analysis.
  • Factor analysis.
  • Anchoring and test equating.
  • Plan experiments involving two-way interactions.
  • Interpret the psychological evidence of group behaviour and its influence on individuals in the context of assessment.
  • Critically analyse and discuss the role of experts in assessment and relate this to the practitioners’ roles, and the relationship between them.
Key Skills:
  • On completion of the module students should be able to:
  • Critically analyse and present arguments, using theoretical sources and empirical evidence.
  • Use computer and information technology (including internet and email use, word processing, spreadsheets and statistical software).
  • Participate in and reflect on collaborative group/team work.
  • Communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • An intensive programme of lectures, seminars (including group work), practical tasks, tutorials, drawing on relevant field work experience and self-guided learning. Lectures will give up-to-date knowledge of educational assessment and help structure students’ own study and learning towards the learning objectives. Seminars will facilitate a more in-depth student engagement with themes and issues raised in the lectures. They will include practical activities and skills training. Seminars will also be linked to field work, either conducting assessment in learning institutions/assessment agencies or working with data from one of these. The format of lectures and in particular seminar exercises will enable students to critically discuss assessment issues. Assessment in the form of devising an assignment task will provide the opportunity for students to present the extent to which they have understood and are able to engage critically with the themes and issues covered under the learning outcomes of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 hour 10
Seminars, practical activities 10 2 hours 20
Self-guided learning and fieldwork experience 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Compulsory seminar tasks. Preliminary summary and outline of the assignment above, with additional critical bibliography to indicate reading undertaken.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University