Increasing transparency: Utilising criterion-referenced assessment to enhance student learning in public relations

Xavier, Robina J. & Mehta, Amisha M. (2006) Increasing transparency: Utilising criterion-referenced assessment to enhance student learning in public relations. In Anyanwu, Chika (Ed.) Australian and New Zealand Communication Association International Conference (ANZCA)., July 4-7, 2006, Adelaide, Australia.


The central role of assessment in the learning and teaching environment is well recognised. Educators face growing demands to improve student understanding of and performance in assessment items (Marginson, 1997; Rust, Price & O’Donovan, 2003). At an institutional level, a number of universities have responded to these demands by reviewing assessment paradigms in order to better demonstrate transparency and accountability in the setting and marking of assessment items (Neil, Wadley & Phinn, 1999; Rust et al, 2003). One of the paradigms being adopted by universities is criterionreferenced assessment (CRA). CRA involves designing assessment tasks in line with subject goals, identifying skills to be demonstrated within an assessment task, assigning relative weights to, and describing each relative skill/criterion (Carlson, MacDonald, Gorely, Hanrahan, & Burgess-Limerick, 2000). CRA has a number of advantages including the ability for students to target their performance against pre-determined standards and be judged as an individual rather than against a normative performance (Neil et al, 1999). A United Kingdom study of CRA showed significant improvement in performance by motivated students (O’Donovan, Price & Rust, 2001; Rust et al, 2003). However, other educators suggest that CRA limits student experimentation, creativity and originality (Hay, 1995). With the goals of increasing transparency and encouraging assessment for learning, CRA was introduced into an undergraduate introductory public relations unit with an enrolment of 290 students. Student research was undertaken to explore the success of the new assessment paradigm and to identify how students used the CRA approach to enhance their learning. The findings of this study show strong use of and support for CRA, with students using the assessment processes to identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop techniques to improve their performance in future assessment tasks.

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ID Code: 8634
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional Information: Proceeding title: Empowerment, Creativity and Innovation: Challenging Media and Communication in the 21st Century
For more information, please refer to the conference’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Author contact details:
Additional URLs:
Keywords: public relations, students, assessmentc, HERN
ISBN: 0-86396-837-6
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 ANZCA & University of Adelaide
Deposited On: 17 Jul 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2014 04:56

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