Assessment Practices in a Cambodian University: Through the Lens of Lecturers and Students
Assessment is a key factor in enhancing student learning when appropriate assessment tasks are conducted. Assessments are used to grade students’ achievement, check learning progress, reflect teaching performance, and support further learning. Perceptions and experiences that lecturers and students in Cambodian tertiary education have about assessment practices are an important aspect to understand the current assessment practices before considering possible changes and how to implement the changes. These perceptions and experiences are the focus of this study which uses a mixed-method design. Eighteen lecturers and ninety-three third and fourth year students completed a 35-item questionnaire on the conceptualisation of assessment practices. Six lecturers participated in semi-structured interviews and 11 students participated in focus group discussions. Seventeen course outlines were analysed for assessment criteria and modes. Results revealed three main perceived purposes of assessment: the provision of marks to students, measurement of students’ understanding, and satisfaction of university requirements. Furthermore, conventional assessment forms such as presentations, written assignments and examinations were found to be widely practiced in the faculty. Varying perceptions about explicit assessment criteria was also evident amongst lecturers and students. In addition the study identified that participants appear unfamiliar with the notion of innovative assessment practices, and that lecturers used a ‘transmission process’ type to provide feedback. These findings are used to recommend ways of enhancing assessment practices in Cambodian tertiary education. Recommendations include activities to develop assessment practices and ensure the improvement of student learning, especially self-regulated learning. Further recommendations are the inclusion of alternative assessment, more clarity in assessment criteria, and the introduction of supportive and constructive feedback. Academic professional development and university support are also needed for enhancing assessment practices. Two avenues of further research are recommended to examine the impact of assessment practices on student learning: firstly, an investigation into the practices of innovative assessment and approaches to learning, and secondly a comparative study about assessment systems and learning careers between a developing country and a developed country.