Assessment in higher education: learning support or measure of achievement?
Muthuma, Lydia W.
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Curriculum change is happening at a national level in Kenya; the 8-4-4 system is being phased out and replaced with the competency-based curriculum, CBC. This change is confined to basic education i.e. from pre-primary level to tertiary education, offered in different colleges throughout the country. University education does not form part of basic education. It is seemingly untouched by change in the national curriculum. However, university undergraduates are intellectually formed and otherwise prepared through the basic education system. Any change, therefore, in basic education will necessarily affect the content and style of learning programmes in universities. Without going into a plethora of these changes, the paper considers a salient factor: assessment. The suggested change in, and rationale behind, assessment in the CBC may signal an equivalent shift in higher education. Undergraduates joining universities, from the CBC system, will have been habituated to formative assessment. Will the traditional approach of sole summative assessment, in higher education, still be fit for purpose? And what purpose? No hard and fast rules or fixed solutions, to this situation, are offered. This is not a setting out of policy; it is rather an elucidation of the rationale and intended purpose of formative assessment –the significant change in Kenya's curriculum. It is compared and contrasted to summative assessment; nuances in both assessment methods and their intended effect on the learner are highlighted. The aim is to signal, to universities, the expected attitude of mind that future undergraduates may bring to their institutions.