Join us to discuss how theory is used in assessment and feedback on Monday 3rd July at 2pm BST

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A good theory can be the most concentrated form of knowledge. By encapsulating an infinite number of cases, a theory can make predictions rather than just describing a finite number of disjointed facts. So how does theory feature in research about assessment and feedback? Join us on Monday 3rd July at 2pm BST (UTC+1) to discuss a paper investigating this question by Juuso Henrik Nieminen, Margaret Bearman & Joanna Tai from the University of Hong Kong and Deakin University. [1] From the abstract of their paper:

Assessment and feedback research constitutes its own ‘silo’ amidst the higher education research field. Theory has been cast as an important but absent aspect of higher education research. This may be a particular issue in empirical assessment research which often builds on the conceptualisation of assessment as objective measurement. So, how does theory feature in assessment and feedback research? We conduct a critical review of recent empirical articles (2020, N = 56) to understand how theory is engaged with in this field. We analyse the repertoire of theories and the mechanisms for putting these theories into practice. 21 studies drew explicitly on educational theory. Theories were most commonly used to explain and frame assessment. Critical theories were notably absent, and quantitative studies engaged with theory in a largely instrumental manner. We discuss the findings through the concept of reflexivity, conceptualising engagement with theory as a practice with both benefits and pitfalls. We therefore call for further reflexivity in the field of assessment and feedback research through deeper and interdisciplinary engagement with theories to avoid further siloing of the field.

All welcome, as usual we’ll be meeting on zoom, details at Thanks to Jane Waite at Queen Mary, University of London, for nominating this months paper.


  1. Juuso Henrik Nieminen, Margaret Bearman & Joanna Tai (2023) How is theory used in assessment and feedback research? A critical review, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 48:1, 77-94, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2022.2047154