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Indicators of Effective Assessment in Higher Education

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

The University of Melbourne offers these "Indicators of Effective Assessment in Higher Education".

  1. Assessment is treated by staff and students as an integral and prominent component of the entire teaching and learning process rather than a final adjunct to it.
  2. The multiple roles of assessment are recognised. The powerful motivating effect of assessment requirements on students is understood and assessment tasks are designed to foster valued study habits.
  3. There is a faculty/departmental policy that guides individuals' assessment practices. Subject assessment is integrated into an overall plan for course assessment.
  4. There is a clear alignment between expected learning outcomes, what is taught and learnt, and the knowledge and skills assessed — there is a closed and coherent "curriculum loop".
  5. Assessment tasks assess the capacity to analyse and synthesise new information and concepts rather than simply recall information previously presented.
  6. A variety of assessment methods is employed so that the limitations of particular methods are minimised.
  7. Assessment tasks are designed to assess relevant generic skills as well as subject-specific knowledge and skills.
  8. There is a steady progression in the complexity and demands of assessment requirements in the later years of courses.
  9. There is provision for student choice in assessment tasks and weighting at certain times.
  10. Student and staff workloads are considered in the scheduling and design of assessment tasks.
  11. Excessive assessment is avoided. Assessment tasks are designed to sample student learning.
  12. Assessment tasks are weighted to balance the developmental ("formative") and judgmental ("summative") roles of assessment. Early low-stakes, low-weight assessment is used to provide students with feedback.
  13. Grades are calculated and reported on the basis of clearly articulated learning outcomes and criteria for levels of achievement.
  14. Students receive explanatory and diagnostic feedback as well as grades.
  15. Assessment tasks are checked to ensure there are no inherent biases that may disadvantage particular student groups.
  16. Plagiarism is minimised through careful task design, explicit education and appropriate monitoring of academic honesty.

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