Assessment and feedback influences motivation, achievement and plays a considerable part in staff workload.
The Quality Assurance Agency, (2023), state that assessment is a fundamental element of the student experience. Boud and Falchikov, (2007), highlighted that assessment and feedback are decisive components of module design and perhaps contribute the most to a student’s experience of university.
Assessment serves many purposes in the student’s journey and Boud and Falchikov, (2007), argue that those purposes are dominated by certification of one kind or another. This runs the risk of directing our attention away from the process of learning and/or the potential for equipping students for scenarios beyond scaffolded assessment.
Reflecting on the primacy of assessment, Bloxham and Boyd, (2007, p.3), stated,
“Assessment shapes the experience of students and influences their behaviour more than the teaching they receive”
Well-constructed assessments produce valid evidence of student achievement, (Deneen and Boud, 2014) and should be designed in a way that understands the diversity of students coming to university.
The Quality Assurance Agency provided advice and guidance on assessment and can be accessed here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/docs/qaa/quality-code/advice-and-guidance-assessment.pdf?sfvrsn=ca29c181_4
The guidelines are:
- Assessment methods and criteria are aligned to learning outcomes and teaching activities
- Assessment is reliable, consistent, fair and valid
- Assessment design is approached holistically
- Assessment is inclusive and equitable
- Assessment is explicit and transparent
- Assessment and feedback is purposeful and supports the learning process
- Assessment is timely
- Assessment is efficient and manageable
- Students are supported and prepared for assessment
- Assessment encourages academic integrity
The guidance document also contains reflective questions that could contribute/help in assessment audit and redesign.
Assessment should be student-centred, inclusive and aligned to the learning outcomes and teaching and learning activities. This will increase the likelihood of students experiencing success. Student-centredness according to Race and Pickford, (2007), implies a design that begins with the needs of the students in mind instead of the subject.
Inclusive design, (and by association inclusive assessment), is one that according to Hocking, (2010), enables engagement in learning that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all, (Bale and Seabrook, 2021 p.146).
Aligned assessment is linked to clear learning outcomes that contain an action verb that tells the student what they need to do, the context that it needs to be done in and how well or to what depth it needs to be done.
As professional educators we have the capacity to design inclusive assessments that provide opportunities for
- assessment for learning, (AFL)
- assessment as learning, (AAL)
- assessment of learning, (AOL).
Advance HE provides a useful resource on the principles underpinning inclusive assessment design.
To facilitate assessment practice JISC revised their Principles of Good Assessment and Feedback and these subsume the previously published Ulster principles and are available with supporting explanations here: https://beta.jisc.ac.uk/guides/principles-of-good-assessment-and-feedback
The principles are:
Assessment and Feedback for Learning should...
- Help learners understand what good looks like by engaging learners with the requirements and performance criteria for each task
- Support the personalised needs of learners by being accessible, inclusive and compassionate
- Foster active learning by recognising that engagement with learning resources, peers and tutors can all offer opportunities for formative development
- Develop autonomous learners by encouraging self-generated feedback, self-regulation, reflection, dialogue and peer review
- Manage staff and learner workload effectively by having the right assessment, at the right time, supported by efficient business processes
- Foster a motivated learning community by involving students in decision-making and supporting staff to critique and develop their own practice
- Promote learner employability by assessing authentic tasks and promoting ethical conduct
- Boud D. and Falchikov N. (2007). Rethinking assessment in higher education. Learning for the longer term. Abingdon. Routledge
- Bloxham, S & Boyd P. (2007). Developing effective assessment in higher education: a practical guide. Maidenhead, Open University Press
- Deneen C. and Boud D. (2014). Patterns of resistance in managing assessment change. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. 39. 5. Pp. 577-591
- Race P. and Pickford R. (2007). Making Teaching Work. London Sage
- Recommended view: Changing assessment for good (Aug. 2020). This paper presents an assessment collection to replace traditional exams long-term; Sally Brown and Kay Sambell Assessment Collection
- Jisc Principles of Good Assessment and Feedback 2022
- Assessment Workload Equivalence Guide (revised 2018)
- Guidelines for Writing Assessment Briefs
- Guidelines to Building Marking Rubrics
- A step-by-step guide to designing rubrics that will save hours of marking time - Times Higher Education
- Build effective rubrics in just give steps - Times Higher Education