Wise educators keep a weather eye on what the OU does, so this policy change, to switch away from continuous assessment to final grades determined by the end-of-module assessment alone, is interesting. Pedagogically, it make the distinction between formative and summative assessment much clearer. In other words, it represents a return to the Good Old Days when we did not constantly bombard students with salami sliced assessment. Of course, the risk here is that having stepped off the treadmill, both staff and students might actually start to enjoy higher education again.
Jordan, Sally (2014) A review of a faculty-wide change in assessment practice for open and distance learners of science. In: 8th EDEN Research Workshop: Challenged for Research into Open & Distance Learning: Doing Things Better-Doing Better Things, 27-28 October 2014, Oxford, UK.
Previous practice in the Open University Science Faculty has been for all modules to be assessed by a combination of summative continuous assessment, with extensive feedback comments, and an end-of-module task (an examination or an extended assignment). This practice, although well established and apparently well received, has led to concerns, as reported elsewhere, that staff and students have a different understanding of the purpose of continuous assessment: staff see its purpose as primarily formative whilst students are primarily concerned with obtaining high marks. The revised practice still requires students to meet a threshold for their overall continuous assessment score, but the final grade is determined by the end-of-module assessment alone. The evaluation of the change in practice has been split into small practitioner-led sub- projects, comparing impact across different modules and levels, with the aim of identifying factors that lead to improved engagement. Sub-projects are both quantitative, e.g. comparing assignment completion rates before and after the change, and qualitative e.g. investigating student and tutor perceptions and opinion.