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Introducing a personal element in your assessment

Guidance for students on introducing some personal element into the assessment

There are a number of ways in which assessments might include answers which will be unique to you. This will be made clear in the assessment task designed by the module convenor. Below are some examples of what you might expect, but you should refer to the assessment task for specific details and read assessment questions carefully to ensure you understand what is required.

Articulation of thought processes

You could be asked to offer a commentary on a solution to a problem or an answer to an assessment question. In the commentary, you would describe in detail the decisions that you have made and then offer a rationale for those decisions. For example, there might be more than one way of solving a problem or answering a question and you would be asked to evaluate the different possible approaches, and explain why you had approached the problem in the way you did. Depending on the discipline, in order to justify your approach, you might be required to reference particular theories or materials studied in the module rather than simply express your views and opinions.

Reflection

Reflection may be a well-established professional practice within your discipline. Even if this is not the case you may be asked to identify examples from personal experience and use this as a context to demonstrate that you have met the intended learning outcomes. You may be asked to reflect upon:

  • your learning and learning processes, e.g. your experiences of a chemistry laboratory;
  • historic experiences gained in authentic contexts, e.g. on placement or internships, during a year abroad, in the workplace;
  • personal experience;
  • future action/approaches, e.g. how you might approach a similar future problem in the context of your own workplace.

This sort of reflective work asks you to think about the material in light of your previous experience – not just to look back upon and create an account of how you have approached this particular assessment.

You might, therefore, encounter questions such as:

  • What did you do?
  • Why did you do it that way?
  • If you had the opportunity how would you do it differently in future?

It is important to remember that it is not the original experience that is being assessed but the reflection on the experience.

Critique or Evaluation

You might be asked to evaluate or critique and to select your own criteria for evaluation. For example, in Computer Science you could be offered two different algorithms and be asked to evaluate them and explore which was better and why. In order to complete this task, you would need to establish on what basis an algorithm would be superior. In this case, there may be more than one appropriate answer to the question but credit will be given for the quality of the evaluation.

Personal preferences and priorities

You might be asked to select a topic that is of particular interest to you or that you believe to be a priority. In this sort of assessment task, you would choose a context within which to apply the knowledge and understanding you have developed while studying the module. Although the context would be chosen by you, you would still address the intended learning outcomes.

Depending on the context of the module you might be asked to select data for a situation that you are particularly interested in: sustainability, environment, social justice, faith etc.

In any case, all assessments that include a personal element will assess the intended learning outcomes and will not include or assess new outcomes or content. 

If your assessment contains a personal element make sure that you know the assessment criteria, that module intended learning outcomes are clear to you, and you understand what good work looks like