I attended an assessment and learning workshop today and while the presentations were informative, I just wanted to highlight the principles of good assessment taken from my faculty’s assessment policy. Since I don’t have a background in education, guidelines like these are incredibly useful when creating assessments for students.
- Responsibility for assessment – the module co-ordinator is responsible for designing the assessment and mark allocation.
- Assessing against outcomes – performance should be measured against pre-determined expectations of achievement (learning outcomes).
- Assessment criteria – the expectations of the assessment, including the specific criteria of judgement, should be available to students to ensure transparency.
- Validity and appropriateness – the assessment methods and tasks should accurately match what is being assessed (knowledge, understanding, content, skills, behaviour, etc.)
- Authenticity of evidence – measures should be taken to ensure that the evidence produced by the student is attributable to the student. With group work, the lecturer must verify that each student has made a fair contribution.
- Formative and summative assessment – assessment should judge students’ performance (summative), as well as provide feedback to enhance learning (formative), although not simultaneously. Students should be aware of whether they are being assessed formatively or summatively at each assessment.
- Continuous assessment – should have a strong formative focus and be undertaken over the course of the module.
For me, just knowing about these guidelines has already made a significant difference in how I approach the assessment of students. Clearly, it’s not enough to re-use old test papers and merely change the scenarios. We need to make sure that we’re actually testing what we set out to test, as well as linking the assessment to the curriculum and learning outcomes.
One other point I want to mention is a comment made by one of the presenters, regarding the importance of testing students interpretation of the course content. This is one way to make sure that students actually understand what they’re writing, rather than just regurgitating bullet points.