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The Centre for Quality Promotion and Assurance at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted the Assuring the Integrity of Assessment Practices Project Launch at the Coastlands Musgrave Hotel on Monday, 13 November 2023.

Giving the welcome and introduction address to the much-anticipated ‘Big Rocks’ project was the Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Azwitevhelwi Nevhutalu. He explained that one of the key parameters to be acknowledged is the curriculum and what is being taught and assessed to produce innovative, creative, entrepreneurial, adaptive graduates. He emphasised that the students must go out and transform society.

The Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning stated that the University academic staff  “are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there are assessment practices with integrity, meaningful purpose, and our purpose is the kind of graduates that we are going to produce. You are going to be thinking about assessments within the context of our ENVISION2030.”

Adding to the conversation was the Acting Director of the Centre for Quality Promotion and Assurance (CQPA),  Mr Norman Ronald. He gave more insight into the background, context, rationale and phases of this Big Rocks project. He explained that while problems were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic (when students were assessed online), the assessment-related issues had been existent for many years. He stated that there is documented evidence obtained through CQPA programme reviews and evaluations, surveys, moderator reports and  feedback from students, professional bodies, etc., which all point to the need for more robust research to identify specific areas for improvement.

The Project Manager of the Assuring the Integrity of Assessment Practices Project, Dr Paulette Powell, then provided detail about Phase 1 of this project which is currently underway. She explained that the intention of Phase 1 is to develop a baseline of assessment practices at DUT from 2019-2023 by conducting a desktop document analysis. This will include an investigation into the alignment of DUT assessment practices with nationally registered qualifications and module descriptors. It will also involve reviewing professional body review reports and moderator processes and reports. Additionally, “in consultation with the Executive Deans, the CQPA and others, we are identifying a selection of programmes representing faculties, and selecting sample modules from identified programmes. We are collecting and analysing faculty, programme and module documents, as well as CQPA survey and review documents from 2019 to 2023. A report of the Phase 1 findings will guide the way into the next phase when we will do a ‘deeper dive’ into assessment practices,” she said.

Dr Powell’s presentation was followed by a robust discussion session which added great value to the launch. In Dr Nevhutalu’s closing remarks, he highlighted the need for more conversations of this nature. The delegates were thanked for their participation and support, and the project was officially launched.

Pictured: Left to Right: (Project Manager of the Assuring the Integrity of Assessment Practices Project), Dr Paulette Powell, (Acting Director of the Centre for Quality Promotion and Assurance-CQPA),  Mr Norman Ronald, (Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning), Dr Azwitevhelwi Nevhutalu, (Executive Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences), Professor Suren Singh, and Dr Mark Hay (Office of the DVC: Teaching and Learning), at the launch.

Photographer: Mnqobi Ngobese

Waheeda Peters

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