Assessment & feedback basic guidance

A short introductory video, plus headlines from the University’s new assessment and feedback priorities and principles, with one example piece of guidance against each.

This short video by Neil Lent gives an introduction to good assessment design practice:

Introductory Video - good assessment design practice

Here are the headlines from the University’s new assessment and feedback priorities and principles, with one example piece of guidance against each.

Assessment will be fit for purpose.

This principle has many different elements. One important point to consider here is whether the assessment is ‘authentic’. Authentic assessments allow students to apply what they have learned in ways that are realistic in relation to how they would use their learning in future. Authentic assessments can help students imagine themselves as practitioners of their subject area rather than ‘just’ students, which can also be great for their motivation.

Assessment and feedback practices will involve conversation with students

Anyone who has blind double marked an assessment that is at all subjective will know that even experienced markers don’t always fully agree on what makes for good academic work. This is because many marking criteria, like quality of argument, are strongly shaped by the history and practices of particular subject areas. We all have our own interpretation of these things based on our own histories with our subject area. Even within a subject area there can be disagreements, think how often referees disagree about journal articles.

To help our students understand marking criteria therefore relies on us having conversations that enable them to make sense of these histories and practices. Even very well written guidance documents won’t be enough on their own. This doesn’t need to be one-to-one or synchronous. It can happen in a workshop where a teacher thinks aloud about examples and answers questions. It can happen online, where a sample text is shared for students and teachers to label it with comments (Miro is a great tool for this).

Assessment and feedback practices will be inclusive, equitable and fair

One thing that really helps inclusion is that new students get to practice low stakes assessment early on in their studies and get supportive feedback that helps them understand how they have done and how they can improve. If students are marginalised or struggling in some way then they can lose confidence and impetus if they think they are doing less well than their peers who seem more confident (even if this is a complete misperception).

Assessment and feedback will be reliable, robust and transparent

Following on from what was said above about conversations with students, conversations between markers are really important. So much time and concern can be saved later if marking teams can do regular shared marking exercises together. This is especially important when new markers are joining a team. Even if the markers coming in are really experienced elsewhere, they might well have different perceptions about what makes for good marks based on their different experiences. Sharing feedback practices as well would make this exercise even more powerful.

Assessment and feedback will be proportionate to the amount and level of credit

One thing we notice teaching the PG Cert in Academic Practice here in the IAD, is that the staff who we teach have very varied perceptions about what is a reasonable amount of assessment for a given amount of course credit. Mapping these elements across and within programmes can really help the consistency of the student experience.

Feedback on assessment will be constructive, developmental and timely

Many of our students will come from backgrounds where they’ve been taught that grades are hugely important and may feel their personal worth is quite attached to their grades. This means that it’s easy to find feedback upsetting and switch off. So, it’s really important to give feedback that gives students a strong sense that you see value in them and their work and that you believe they are capable of improving.

Assessment and feedback will make appropriate use of learning technologies

Given the current rapid changes in our digital landscape it’s increasingly important to carefully consider the ethical implications of our technological choices. Digital technologies infuse and shape almost all assessment and feedback practices in some way. One useful strategy with large groups is to use Wooclap to quickly get a lot of anonymous answers to a question. If you then display the spread of answers, let students discuss those, and then comment on the correct answer (if there is one) you’ve just given instant feedback to a large group very efficiently.

Assessment and feedback practices will be monitored at the programme level

One way to think of this is as guidance-assessment-feedback spirals. So, you give students some initial guidance on a form of assessment in say first year undergraduate. They have a try and then they get feedback. If you’ve got good programme level design the students should be able to see how that feedback is picked up in the next round of guidance-assessment-feedback. So, you can imagine a spiral of progress in students ‘assessment literacy for a particular form of assessment over several years.

Current IAD work on assessment and feedback

Assessment and feedback are core topics for all of our AdvanceHE accredited provision. To become a Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow you will need to show good practice on assessment and evidence informed reflection on these topics. 

IAD's AdvanceHE accredited provision - find out more

You will find workshops about assessment and feedback on IAD's workshops and events pages

Learning and teaching workshops overview page

You can click on the ‘assessment’ tag in the Teaching Matters blog to find excellent ideas from other colleagues

Teaching Matters blog - search by 'assessment' tag

Tutors and demonstrators (and others new to teaching) can come to our assessment and feedback workshops within our orientation courses for tutors and demonstrators:

Orientation courses for tutors and demonstrators

We often have Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme projects on assessment and feedback. You can find past projects here:

Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme projects - assessment and feedback theme

For further advice or to make suggestions please contact the lead of our course and programme design team: