Assessment and Feedback Design

Assessment is a central element in learners’ higher education experience, but often it is also one of the most daunting experiences for many students for different reasons. The heavily teacher-centred, lecture-based higher education experience where students are the passive recipients of knowledge is changing – but are our assessments methods, our beliefs in what to evaluate and how to evaluate, changing as well?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution in assessment, just like in teaching. However, there is ample research suggesting that students benefit from formative and student-centred approaches to assessment, which are some core approaches in this toolkit. With formative assessment, teachers can use assessment as a way to understand where students are in their learning and further support them, and learners can see how they are developing and identify personal goals. Student-centred assessment is an excellent way to address diverse student needs and give students agency over their learning.

You might find the following model helpful in assessment design:

 

This is image 1. It illustrates a typical assessment cycle. 1. Discovery: Where are students in their learning? 2. Setting a Vision: What are you/your students aiming for? 3. Design: What types of methods would support the students the best? 4. Reflection: What would you do differently next time?

Image 1. Assessment and Feedback Cycle. Consider the student experience, your teaching philosophy,  departmental requirements, and quality. How would you include students in this process? CC-BY-NC-SA. The model is inspired by JISC’s discover, dream, design deliver model.

1. Discovery: Where are students in their learning now?

This is the step where you identify where students are in their learning.  Consider the learning context and learner profiles. What kind of resources are available to you? Is there an opportunity for learners to identify where they are at?

2. Setting a vision: What are you/your students aiming for?

This is the step where you and/or your students identify the reasons for assessment. What is your overall vision? What are the aims?

3. Design: What types of assessment and feedback methods would support students the best?

This is the step where you and/or your students decide which types of assessment and feedback methods will be used. An important consideration is the kind of learning climate you will set up with the assessment and feedback methods you use. For example, will your methods encourage independent, collaborative, self-reflective, or dialogic learning?

This is a screenshot showing a section of the resource, Varied Assessment Methods. We see the title and two columns: one says, what's it called? Examples are listed underneath: Annotated Biographies, Blog or Wiki, Case study or Care plan, Critique or review of a book, article, performance, artwork, design etc. The other column says, What is it?. Detailed descriptions for each assessment method is given.
Image 2. A section of the resource Varied Assessment Methods.

The list of varied assessment is a great resource where you can see the range of methods you can use.

 

You will also need to consider any departmental or programme requirements at this stage and issues with quality.  Are there any tensions that need to be resolved before you begin?

4. Self-reflection: What would you do differently next time?

This is the step where you identify areas to improve and highlight successes in the assessment and feedback process, ideally together with your colleagues and students. You might consider getting some student feedback informally or using anonymous questionnaires.

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