Assessing studesnts' experiential learning during work placements

Jakša KIVELA, Ruth Jeanine KIVELA

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


The concern to develop rigorous techniques of assessment for sandwich placement performance seems to be motivated by a number of considerations. Assessment, as is often argued, helps to give the placement, and the experiential learning, which occurs, in the placement, due academic weight, and hence the integration of theory and practice would be given a higher priority. Furthermore, assessment of placement performance is occasionally implicitly used as a proxy for the evaluation of the idea of sandwich placements per se. it is argued here that none of these motives for assessment is strong enough to justify the disruption to placements that an undue emphasis on assessment may produce, and that the final reason, i.e. that assessment stands proxy for evaluation, is just plain illogical. It can be argued therefore, that the use of assessment is to facilitate genuine, meaningful experiential learning; part of a ‘conversation’ between students and teachers (whether placement tutor or on-placement supervisor), which is aimed at an ongoing negotiation of significant personal objectives and an appraisal of the students’ success in fulfilling them. In addition, that the summative assessment processes, as a human and social enterprise, involves three phases: 1. the perception of relevant students’ behaviour; 2. the judgement as to its quality as placement performance, and 3. the communication of this assessment to an audience. When analyzing these processes in detail, it can be deducted that they are fraught eith difficulty, and that they certainly ought not to be used to provide the basis for quantitative measure. In addition, these problems are not amenable to technical solution, that is, there is no possible measuring technique, which could magically render the human process of erecting a scale of measurement of performance. Yet it is justifiable to require an overall report of placement performance. Hence, it is suggested that a qualitative account includes a transcript of activities, and recommends separate certification of placement performance rather than any attempt to incorporate a ‘placement score’ in the calculation of degree class. Hence, it is critical that effort should be put into designing and implementing appropriate placement assessment practices that will facilitate effective evaluation and assessment. Based on the review of the relevant literature, the analysis of relevant data, and ‘best practices’ identified, the following objectives guided the parameters of this study: 1. To investigate and analyse the current experiential learning assessment practices and methods used in degree programmes in Hong Kong; 2. To review the relevant literature to identify best practices in sandwich assessment; 3. To explore and analyse by way of surveys and in-depth interviews with sandwich placement students the impacts of current sandwich placement assessment practices on students’ learning outcomes and teaching practices; 4. To develop a sandwich placement assessment model that could be used in the assessment of sandwich placements in Hong Kong that would further enhance and support quality assurance and improvement in teaching. The discussion of the findings of this study is concerned with the process whereby those responsible for running sandwich degree programmes in Hong Kong attempt to assess the performance of students during their period of industrial placement. Much of what has arisen from the findings is directly applicable to the assessment of learning generally; however, the focus of this study is on the placement element of degree programmes. Arising from data and the review of best practices, detailed recommendations are given to provide a better framework for the planning and introduction of more equitable and effective placement assessment systems that would further enhance the quality of teaching and learning in Hong Kong. This research project was funded by: The Hong Kong Government, University Grants Committee’s – The Teaching Development Grant “Constructive Alignment in higher Education”
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Kivela, J., & Kivela, R. J. (2005, June). Assessing studesnts' experiential learning during work placements. Paper presented at the First International Conference on Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Assessment, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China.


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