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Step 3: Consider how best to assess those outcomes

Select assessment methods and tasks that are valid, that is that they are able to measure how well students have achieved the intended learning outcomes. Implementing a range of assessment methods can contribute to a more meaningful learning experience and provide different ways for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes.

Prompts for critical thinking:

  • How will assessment align to learning outcomes?
    • What sort of work will students need to produce in order to ensure that you are able to evaluate how well they have achieved the intended learning outcomes?
    • What sort of task will enable students to achieve standards beyond threshold level, and for you to accurately gauge their performance against agreed standards?
    • Can one method of assessment evaluate all learning outcomes or will you need to include a variety of activities to cover all intended learning outcomes?
    • Does the weighting of assessment tasks reflect the overall importance of the intended learning outcomes that it evaluates?
  • Does the assessment enable all students to demonstrate that they have achieved intended learning outcomes?
  • Do the outcomes require you to assess the process of learning or the product of learning? How will this impact upon the sort of work which you are assessing?
  • Are you assessing individual activity or group activity? If group activity – how will you ensure that grading is perceived to be fair?
  • Will your teaching strategy and planned student learning activities enable them to achieve the intended learning outcomes that you intend to assess?
  • If you are amending an existing module: how will changes to assessment design affect changes to teaching?
  • Will engagement in the task be a worthwhile learning activity in its own right?
  • Will assessment tasks offer students intrinsic motivation for students to engage?
  • Will undertaking the assessment tasks contribute to student learning?
  • Do assessment enable students to feel ownership over the assessment tasks, or will they experience assessment as something that has been done to them?
  • Are there opportunities for students to take an active role in assessment processes, strategy and development beyond simply doing the assessment tasks? e.g. Can students select or create their own assignment topics, provide peer feedback, act as an audience for presentations, or create resources for future use?
  • How does each assessment task/s connect to:
    • other assessment tasks;
    • the module assessment strategy;
    • the programme assessment strategy?
  • How reliable is your assessment strategy:
    • Can you be confident that the work produced for assessment is the work of the student you think you are assessing?
    • How far does your assessment task/s/strategy design out opportunities for plagiarism?
  • Are you using authentic assessment methods?
  • Are you assessing (either formatively or summatively) or asking students to document the process of developing an assignment, e.g. work-in-progress reports, annotated bibliographies, drafts, revisions?
  • Are you using individualised assignments, which require students to draw upon personal or local experience, or adding individual components to group work?
  • Are you evaluating work produced in-class, or under examination conditions?
  • Are you including oral components?
  • Are your assessment titles sufficiently distinctive year on year to avoid students copying the work of previous students and across modules to prevent self-plagiarism?
  • Do the assessment tasks emphasise higher order thinking skills (e.g. synthesis/application/evaluation/analysis) rather than gathering/ recalling content?
  • How well will your assessment foster deep approaches to learning within your students?
  • How will the tasks enable learners to track their own development over time and identify what they will need to focus on in future study and practice?
  • Might cross-programme assessment be appropriate for your learners?
  • Are there professional skills, dispositions or values which need to be integrated into assessment design?
    • What do learners need to be able to do in practice in the industry/profession?
    • Are there any tasks which will mirror future professional assessment activities, ‘signature assessments’ which are important for learners to know, in and of themselves (e.g. the legal moot, the medical case presentation, the designer portfolio).
    • Can you collaborate with business, industry, government or community groups to identify:
      1. necessary skills;
      2. projects that could be packaged as authentic assessments; or
      3. work-based opportunities for assessment?
    • What logistics and resources are required to support each stage of the task (e.g. simulators, materials, permissions to access work locations)?
    • How will you manage any work-based assessment processes and procedures?

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