Are we answering the question that has been set? Exploring the gap between research and practice around examinations in higher education

Alex Buckley*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Despite a large amount of critical research literature, traditional examinations continue to be widely used in higher education. This article reviews recent literature in order to assess the role played by the approaches adopted by researchers in the gap between research on exams, and the way exams are used. Viviane Robinson’s ‘problem-based methodology’ focuses on the need for researchers to engage with the challenges and priorities of practitioners. Drawing on Robinson’s approach, the article investigates how the strengths and weaknesses of exams and their alternatives are framed in the literature published between 2016 and 2021. The article concludes that there is an absence of evidence about how and why practitioners make decisions about assessment. This hinders the ability of assessment researchers to appropriately connect their work with the assessment challenges practitioners face. To make a difference, assessment research needs to live in the real world; a world which, at least as far as practitioners’ assessment decisions are concerned, we do not yet sufficiently understand.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalStudies in Higher Education
    Early online date27 Nov 2023
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023


    • Assessment
    • educational research
    • examinations
    • methodology
    • practice
    • research impact

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education

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