How do we assess?
See Section 3: Assessment Design for more specific information on how we assess student learning.
In order to meet the wider needs of students and staff, and address challenges like those listed above, a number of additional principles have been proposed that can be used to guide assessment design (see Gibbs and Simpson 2004, JISC 2011, Nicol 2009, Race et al., 2005 for examples).
These principles - as distinct from assessment processes or procedures - can be interpreted within a range of contexts. Assessment practice can vary according to subject, study level, staff and student experience level and a range of other factors. In each case though these principles can be used as a ‘checklist’ to review any intended assessment activity.
Good assessment should be:
… fit for purpose, timely, relevant and engaging
Good assessment practice has a clear what, where, when, why and how. We’ve covered much of the ‘why’ in the previous sections. The remaining elements form the main body of the Assessment Design section.
… of knowledge and skills, and of academic judgement
Good assessment practice will do more than enable the demonstration of subject knowledge, and subject and key skills. It will be seamlessly integrated in to the learning journey, providing clear pathways for progression and improvement, building on prior learning. Purpose, expectations and standards will be explicitly outlined, in order to raise aspirations, as well as help learners to evaluate their own work and develop judgement about their own capabilities and progress. Timely feedback will create genuine opportunities for improvement.
… adaptive, iterative, collaborative, data driven
Assessment and feedback form part of a wider learning dialogue, addressing understanding of expectations and goals, as well as development toward them (Nicol 2010a). Good assessment will be informed by dialogue around the assessment criteria, design and process. Feedback from students, peers and other stakeholders will inform the design in a proactive as well as a reactive way. Building in continuous evaluation of validity and efficacy, and being responsive to changing needs and constraints means that assessment can provide development opportunities for staff as well as students.