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Step 1: Consider the context of assessment

Assessment design and practice cannot be considered in isolation but need to be situated in the context of the overall programme of study; professional bodies’ requirements; students’ prior experiences and backgrounds; disciplinary culture; institutional policies; and learning environments. These elements are probably beyond your direct control, but you should still consider your own assumptions and expectations in relation to all of these factors, throughout the design process.

Prompts for critical thinking:

  • Does your context enable you to co-design assessment in partnership with students?
  • How does your module articulate with the programme/s within which it appears, e.g. core, elective.
  • What assessment patterns are already in use across the programme/s within which your module will sit?
    • What sort of assessment will students have experienced to date?
    • What sort of assessment does your module need to prepare them to undertake?
    • What sort of assessment will students be undertaking on parallel modules?
  • Are there any professional accreditation requirements that you need to consider?
  • Generally speaking, what are the characteristics of enrolled students?
    • Will students who don’t share those characteristics be disadvantaged when trying to demonstrate achievement of intended learning outcomes in ways which are not related to academic ability?
  • What disciplinary ways of thinking, doing and being need to be embedded within assessment practice?
  • How will the learning environment impact on your assessment approaches, e.g. class size or mode (online/face-to-face/blended)?
    • Will all students undertake the module in the same mode, e.g. are some part time and some full time, some distance some face-to-face?

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