The Kathleen Tattersall New Assessment Researcher Award: 2019 Award Winner

The Kathleen Tattersall New Assessment Researcher Award for 2019 is given to Dr. Aisling Keane. She will receive her award at the conference in Lisbon in November, where she also will give her keynote talk with the title “Formative Assessment in Student Transition to Higher Education – A Sociocultural Perspective”. The jury recognizes that this talk addresses a topic of high relevance for the conference theme this year. Transition into higher education is challenging, with drop-out during the first year worryingly high in many countries.

Upon completing her Ph.D in Anatomy (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland) Aisling joined the Centre for Biomedical Sciences Education at the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Northern Ireland in 2005 as a Lecturer (Education). Recognising the importance of educational research in third level education Aisling undertook and graduated with a Doctorate in Education (2019) from QUB. Her educational research is underpinned by sociocultural approaches to exploring the nature of assessment, learning and student transition to third level education and scholarship of teaching and learning in Higher Education. Aisling’s work makes an original contribution to the field through the application of a sociocultural framework to explore student experiences of formative assessment in the first year of university and the impact of this on subsequent approaches to assessment and learning, particularly in the second year.

Informed by Rogoff’s Three Planes of Analysis framework and influenced by situated participationism Aisling’s keynote lecture will explore and expand discussions surrounding formative assessment to offer alternative approaches to current practices dominant in the early years of UG teaching and educational transitions in general. This is important as a clearly articulated sociocultural perspective provides comprehensive theoretical insight into formative assessment practices in first year HE which inadvertently negatively impact on student enculturation into a new community. This work advocates for sociocultural approaches which see pedagogies as transformative for newcomers when they rely on clear frameworks of mutual participation between staff and students in valuable on-going cultural activities. Such pedagogies facilitate learner involvement to recognise processes and efforts which contribute to community goals.