Aligning assessment with Threshold Learning Outcomes in the Creative and Performing Arts

Assessment in Music

Goals and Outcomes

This project was concerned with academic standards as they are applied in higher music education institutions across Australia and focussed on assessment of program learning outcomes through assessment activities of required courses. It drew on the experiences of staff and students in ensembles and solo settings across a range of degree programs and musical sub-disciplines (jazz, musical theatre, music technology, popular and classical music) for the purposes of identifying core, best-practice learning transactions and assessment processes.

The main research question was “To what degree are assessment standards and practices in higher music education in Australia aligned with the Threshold Learning Outcome Statements developed for the Creative and Performing Arts?” Consensus moderation was used extensively in the project, including as a means of enhancing the validity of assessment approaches. The approaches and strategies in this research project may be able to be used or adapted in other education contexts.

The project focussed on approaches to summative assessment of program-level learning outcomes, particularly as they relate to the assessment of graduate attributes and national TLOs. It evaluated the alignment between assessment, curriculum structure and pedagogical practices and employed a consensus moderation methodology to assure valid and reliable assessment of standards of student achievement of graduate outcomes.

The specific outcomes of this project include:

  • Exemplars of assessment practices in music that connect via graduate attributes to learning outcome statements for the creative and performing arts;
  • A report on the range of approaches used in the assessment of student learning in Australia;
  • Results of the mapping of assessment to learning outcome statements in QCGU music degree programs;
  • The evaluation of the effectiveness of using a consensus moderation approach in the development of inter-institutional understandings of standards;
  • The trial, evaluation and refinement of pilot assessment strategies that address suggested alignment across selected programs;
  • The dissemination of findings through national and international music education forums;
  • A repository for assessment items, processes and student responses to assessment tasks in music which informs decisions about music learning and teaching at both national and international levels. These include a bank of exemplars of assessment performances that are available for the purpose of consensus moderation exercises.
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