The current discourse within Higher Education is strongly anchored in and based upon the students as partners in learning. And yet, this rarely includes assessments, which are used to determine students’ specific achievements and to identify whether and in how far learning outcomes and objectives have been achieved. If, however, students are to take responsibility for their learning, then why are they not also in charge of their assessments? It is this particular question that forms the basis for this paper that is co-written between two students and one member of staff. The paper commences with a section on empowerment, and what empowering students means in the context of research and teaching. We then provide a brief context to the development of the assessment strategy on a specific module within the BA Education Studies course at UCL Institute of Education. After that, we discuss the challenges of letting students decide their own assessments. These challenges related to meeting objectives and requirements, to fairness of assessment and support and to the time-intensive work on the part of both, the students and staff. We then proceed to offering insight into the advantages of letting students decide. On a practical level, students invested more time and energy into developing their projects and demonstrating their learning, which led to an increased and deepened understanding that would not have been possible otherwise. Students felt that having a sense of agency and being responsible for their learning provided them with the opportunity to be self-directed learners and enabled them to connect content from different modules to such an extent that the programme took on a more coherent experience. We conclude with relating the discussion on assessments back to the literature on empowerment and tease out how offering choice provides empowerment..
Brown, N., Morea-Ghergu, D. & Onwuka, N. (2020). Assessments: letting students decide. In: Mawani, S., & Mukadam, A. (eds). Student Empowerment in Higher Education: Reflecting on Teaching Practice and Learner Engagement. Vol. 2. Berlin: Logos Verlag. 487-498.