The role of assessment in a brave new world

Many people think that the next generation will experience the biggest shake up in the jobs market since the Industrial Revolution, and in an ever-connected global world by 2025, we’ll lose millions of jobs to automation. Jobs of the future could look very different to the jobs we all do today and may not have even been invented yet. Whose childhood ambition was it to be a social media influencer?

The skills required to prepare for this brave new world will be higher-order thinking skills that focus on knowledge creation and innovation, such as critical thinking, creativity, people skills (social and emotional), problem solving, and data analysis.

The world of education and assessment is changing to reflect this and in 2015 OUP entered into a joint venture with AQA, the largest awarding body in the UK. OxfordAQA was created to help us grow in high-stakes assessment internationally and prepare students with the skills they require for the future.

OxfordAQA’s qualifications are based on AQA’s market leading GCSE and A-level qualifications, but have been developed to be internationally relevant using Oxford 3000 (a list of the 3,000 most important words to learn in English) to ensure the use of language and assessment structure is accessible to international students. OxfordAQA has specifically developed student-led projects, such as GCSE Plus and IPQ (IndependentProject Qualification) enabling students to demonstrate the high- order thinking skills that will be required to thrive in the future.

In addition to shaping the skills required for future jobs, technology also poses challenges and potential solutions to the way students are assessed and receive their education. Will robots be teaching the next generation? A good teacher will always make one of the biggest differences to a student’s chance of success, but as the world’s population grows, there will be more people accessing education than there are high- quality teachers available. This is where technology can make a big difference in supplementing the learning experience for both teachers and students.

It is foreseeable that in the not too distant future technology will be leading the way to provide a bespoke learning and assessment experience unique to every individual. Before this type of technology becomes common place in classrooms of the future, there are obstacles that need to be overcome. The Centre for Education Research and Practice (CERP) at the AQA, is undertaking research to explore the impact of technology on assessment. For example, how do students perform in an on-screen exam compared to a written exam? Does this provide an unfair advantage?

The biggest challenge to overcome is cyber security. Current technology exists to assess students’ ability using on- screen assessment, and for exams to be marked virtually by an examiner anywhere in the world. This would make for efficient and cost-effective exam delivery—the biggest costs associated with OxfordAQA’s high-stake assessment are the cost of a subject expert marking the exams and dispatching exam papers to and from schools.

However, the protection of an individual’s data is paramount and the validity of high-stakes assessment is vital to a student’s future. If assessment is not secure and questions are leaked across the world in advance, then the assessment is not valid and serves no purpose. With places at university and future careers resting on results of exams, until the risk of cyber-security is sufficiently mitigated, high-stakes assessment reliably depends on pen and paper.


Author: Tom Galvin
Delivery Lead, Oxford International AQA Examinations


One thought on “The role of assessment in a brave new world

  1. sai says:

    vey well written with deep thoughts! a big thumb up:)

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