Use of ipsative assessment in distance learning


RESEARCHERS: Gwyneth Hughes, Kaori Okumoto, Megan Crawford

Faculty of Policy and Society, Institute of Education

TRA5 G Hughes (final report) [pdf, 297kb]


The purpose of this research is to explore the potential of using ipsative assessment (assessment based
on previous performance) to motivate learners. A literature review has indicated that existing criteria referenced assessment methods do not always provide learners with useful feedback and that ipsative assessment might improve the experience of learners, particularly those who do not readily meet the assessment criteria. Written feedback on a distance learning MA was analysed for ipsative approaches and learners and tutors on the programme were interviewed.

The results indicated that feedback is criteria‐led and that ipsative feedback to learners is minimal, yet learners and tutors alike view ipsative feedback as having motivational benefits. While feedback could be readily improved, there are operational issues to consider particularly for ipsative grading, which is less well supported.

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  1. […] ‘carried forward’ conditions. Educational methods such as ipsative assessment (see Hughes, Okumoto & Crawford 2010) already utilise this approach, but are not widespread and suffer from the same problems of […]