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Iranian university students’ conceptions of assessment: Using assessment to self-improve

Gavin T. L. Brown, Reza Pishghadam, and Shaghayegh Shayesteh Sadafian

Assessment practices in higher education focus on evaluating student learning. Institutions are now expected to provide improvement-oriented assessments that help students to improve their work. Student learning outcomes are enhanced if students understand assessment and respond to it in a self-regulating fashion. Beliefs about assessment have been shown to have adaptive and maladaptive relationships to assessment. The 33-item Students’ Conceptions of Assessment (SCoA) Inventory focuses on four different factors (i.e., improvement, affect, irrelevance, and external attributions). This study translated the SCoA Inventory into Farsi and administered it in one Iranian university (N = 760). Confirmatory factor analysis replicated the multidimensional and hierarchical structure of the SCoA Inventory with good fit. Students agreed most with the conceptions that assessment improved learning and teaching, that assessment evaluated schools, and that it was bad for learning. These results appear to reflect a self-regulating response to the high-stakes consequences of examinations and are consistent with the uses of assessment in Iran.

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