Formative assessment: missing in action in both research-intensive and teaching focused universities?

Qi Wu, Tansy Jessop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we analysed survey data from 386 third year undergraduate students on 14 programmes within three UK universities. The universities are characterised as teaching-focused or research-intensive: a ‘plate-glass’ and ‘red-brick’ research-intensive; and a ‘new’ teaching-intensive university. We used the Assessment Experience Questionnaire Version 4.0 (AEQ 4.0), designed to understand students’ perceptions of programme assessment environments. The AEQ contains scales constructed from theories about assessment, feedback and deep learning. We performed exploratory factor analysis on AEQ 4.0 and identified five salient domains: how students learn; quality of feedback; internalisation of standards; student effort; and formative assessment. These domains were compared across the three universities. Formative assessment was the weakest domain in all three university assessment environments, followed closely by students’ internalising standards. Students at the new teaching-focused university had significantly higher scores on scales about deep learning, student effort and the quality of feedback than students in the two research-intensives. Findings show that theories about the virtue of formative assessment have yet to play out in practice; and that teaching-focused university seemed to be encouraging deeper approaches to learning through its feedback and assessment tasks, potentially by doing just what it says on the tin: being ‘teaching-focused’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1031
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2018


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