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Palgrave Macmillan

Ipsative Assessment

Motivation through Marking Progress

ISBN 9781137267214
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Ipsative assessment is a powerful and under-used approach that provokes a new way of thinking about the purposes and methods of assessment. Competitive assessment is the cornerstone of meritocracy in a fast-adapting society and is widely supported, but there is a price to pay: many learners are not personally and academically fulfilled in selective assessment regimes. Ipsative assessment means making a comparison with self rather than others - marking progress, not just products. Not all learners can be top performers, but all learners can potentially make progress and achieve a personal best. Putting the focus onto learning rather than meeting standards and criteria can also be resource efficient.

While not arguing that competitive assessment should be completely replaced, this book explores how a dual system for combining ipsative assessment and selective assessment already exists in the supervision of projects, dissertations and theses. The management and implementation of assessment reform is then considered from a distributed leadership perspective illustrated with an institutional case study. Ipsative assessment may sound utopian, but Gwyneth Hughes shows that in fact it could be used in any educational context to make assessment as enjoyable and rewarding as teaching.

Gwyneth Hughes is Reader in Higher Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK. She is a co-author of Learning Transitions in Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

1. A Fresh Look at Assessment

2. The Purposes of Assessment: Competition and Social Selection

3. Assessment for Learning: In the Shadows?

4. The Effects of Competition on Assessment for Learning

5. Exploring Ipsative Assessment

6. Making the Case for Ipsative Assessment: Assessment for Learning Revisited

7. Two Case Studies of Ipsative Assessment in Academic Setting

8. A Dual Systems Model of Assessment: Lessons from Doctoral Supervision

9. Leading Innovation and Change in Educational Settings: The Challenges of Assessment Reform

10. Institutional Case Study of Innovation in Assessment

11. Ipsative Assessment as a Feasible Utopia


"The take-home message from Ipsative Assessment: Motivation through Marking Progress is that ipsative assessment is not new, but formal institutional systems adopting this perspective are scarce. Therefore, in order to successfully support students' learning, institutions need to adopt a dual system approach that combines traditional purposes of assessments (e.g., competition) with processes that support scaffolded learning (i.e., ipsative assessment)." - British Journal of Educational Studies
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