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Katie Martin

Dr. Kathryn Saynes


20 September, 2018

Article Review One

Part One

Richardson, S. and Coates, H. (2014). Essential foundations for establishing equivalence in

cross-national higher education assessment. Higher Education, [online] 68(6), pp.825-836.

Available at:

b820-4a24-b2ee-dce204326448%40pdc-v-sessmgr03 [Accessed 20 Sep. 2018].

This is an article which focuses on the informational inconsistencies within the higher

educational establishments across multiple countries. The goal is to bridge some of these

gaps within the common, foundational courses by creating standardized, yet flexible set of

skills and learning objectives that can serve them all. This article utilizes the research of the

AHELO Feability Study and argues for the continued interest in such topics and

interconnectedness of cross-national institutions.

Part Two

Sarah Richardson and Hamish Coates worked together to research how to establish

corresponding learning objectives and assessments across multiple nations and languages. The

pair wrote an article entitled “Essential foundations for establishing equivalence in cross-national

higher education assessment” explaining the need for this research and their findings.
They argued that, unlike the secondary and elementary education systems, higher

educations do not have substantial research on how international assessments compare (826).

Such information would provide schools with a basis structure their curriculum, objectives, and

expectations for student performance that would create consistency within them. They even went

so far as to say: “…institutional strategy and education quality suffer from a substantial

information gap…(826).” But, as one might imagine, there were many difficulties in this idea.

This was mostly found in the attempt to create curricula that would serve equally across multiple

languages, various classrooms and students, in differing materials for assessment and modes for

data analysis (825). Even with all this, the measurements were to have the “same skills and

invoke the same cognitive processes” across the board (827).

This article is based on research from the AHELO Feasibility Study. The study was

imagined to “achieve the goals of developing and implementing assessment instruments (828).”

The design of this study was to “enable comparisons across national and regional systems,

languages and institutions (826).” It aimed to delegate a consensus of how to evaluate the

framework of curriculum and instructional instruments which will be effective amongst multiple

cultures, institutions, and languages (826). Or, to put it more succinctly, the AHELO’s goal was

to make consistent the learning outcomes of higher education institutes across multiple nations. It

utilized observations from 23,000 graduating bachelor degree students across 17

countries/regions (827). The schools also varied from top 100 in the world to very small schools.

The AHELO Feasibility Study was also concerned, not merely with tests, but with the many

ways to assess students. Richard and Coates say this for the study: “Thus the goal was to supply

institutions with nuanced insights into students performance which could inform improvements

in teaching and learning (828).”

Rubrics were the main means of creating consistent assessments. Those who utilized

these rubrics were put through training before-hand and were carefully monitored to ensure the

best possible results (831).

The article goes on to talk about the various safety nets placed within the observations to enforce

the consistency of the data as well as how this data was complied into their findings.

“They make the link between assessment outcomes and educational practice. They

establish the context of the domain and provide an organizational structure for it (829).”

Part Three

Consistency in higher education assessments is not only something that is lacking,

according to Richardson and Coates, but also quite necessary – Necessary for governments

“wanting assurance that their funding is well directed”; necessary for societies “need[ing] to

know that institutions are producing informed citizens”; necessary for businesses to “know that

graduates are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills”; necessary for the parents to have

“evidence that institutions are… a significant investment of time and money” (826-827). These

words went beyond the views the most people have on higher educations. The school one

decides to go to often depends on where one can receive the best education, within financial

limits. If one could be assured of a higher quality education, even in smaller, less expensive

higher educational establishments, it would change not only the value of many degrees, but also

the availability of jobs and education to societies and people groups across the world. It would

even alter for the good, the opportunities for one to work or learn in other countries.

Another argument for this was presented a bit later in the article in a more strict fashion.

The writers used an interesting choice of words on page 826 when they called the lack of
information with which to base higher educational assessments on as “increasingly untenable”

given how much more the nations are interacting, sharing, and learning form one another. This

intrigued me as Richardson and Coates are not merely stating that the relationships of standards

in cross-cultural higher educational institutions are incongruent, but rather that they are rapidly

decaying. Essentially, to use a colloquial: “if it is not growing, than it is dying.”

Measurements of learning outcomes, however, does have its limitations, as Richardson

and Coates acknowledged in their summary (832). Only that curriculum which is common

amongst the nations and cultures is what can truly be made consistent. So many topics and skills

are unique to certain parts of the world are therefore become null in such an experiment as this.

Thus, the effect of the AHELO Feasibility Study is confined mostly to the traditional courses and

the least amount of available resources (from within the study).

So, while I do believe that this type of study is helpful, it ought not to be seen as more

than it is. The usefulness will be quite apparent as some students study abroad or travel from one

location to another throughout their educational careers, however it cannot be seen as a means to

bridge gaps between various schools or the higher educational systems of differing nations. The

benefits are quite limited, but the insights may far exceed expectations. It is human nature to

bond over that which is common. When dealing with so many drastically different people

groups, having these core, similar skills and topics will bring a sense of unity to all parties.

Education may then be slightly less of a competition between the nations and perhaps be seen

more as a human privilege to be seriously regarded.

Also, the technologies and available materials differs between various institutions. This created a

large obstacle. Assessing students became a matter of maintaining equal measuring tools as well

as ensuring fair delivery systems (830).