Crisis? What crisis? Interpreting student feedback on assessment

Alex Buckley*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Much is made of students generally rating assessment lower than other aspects of their educational experience. It is frequently cited in research literature as evidence for a general crisis in assessment, and it strongly influences institutional enhancement efforts and media coverage of student feedback. Focusing on the UK’s National Student Survey, this paper draws on a range of published empirical research to argue against the idea that relatively low scores for assessment-related survey questions indicate a general problem with assessment. Students tend to rate the quality of assessment lower when they are unhappy with the assessment outcome, and students tend to be unhappy with assessment outcomes. We therefore shouldn’t be surprised at the relatively low scores for assessment-related questions. This does not mean that there isn’t a general problem with assessment in higher education, just that low scores for assessment questions in student surveys aren’t good evidence for it. Researchers should cite better evidence of problems with assessment quality; institutions should think more carefully before focusing enhancement efforts on assessment; and we should all generally be much more cautious about interpreting the results of quantitative student surveys.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1008-1019
    Number of pages12
    JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
    Issue number7
    Early online date17 Nov 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2021


    • Assessment
    • feedback
    • national student survey
    • student surveys
    • student voice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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