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The University of Southampton
Quality HandbookProgrammes and modules

Assessment

Overview

Assessment practices support learning and provide a measure of the extent to which an individual has met the required learning outcomes. Understanding the assessment process is fundamental in enabling effective use of assessment feedback. Students need to co-own the assessment feedback process if they are to gain maximum benefit from it. Our assessment and feedback policy sees students as partners in the process.  The extent to which students are engaged in all aspects of the assessment process needs to be considered. 

The importance of engaging students in meaningful assessment practices throughout their higher education experience is highlighted along with the importance of acknowledging and supporting student transitions.

The assessment feedback process is seen holistically in terms of how all assessment components fit together and are aligned to support the student journey. A critical pedagogic stance is integral in ensuring ongoing evaluation of assessment feedback processes and the provision of appropriate training to support staff and students in assessment feedback practices.  This means we need to consider whether any student is being disadvantaged by the curriculum design including the nature of and distribution of assessment.

Assessment must be manageable for staff and students. It is important to map the volume of assessment that a student experiences throughout their learning journey and to look at how this can be effectively streamlined and rationalised to promote more meaningful learning experiences.

It is important to promote student autonomy in assessment but care needs to be taken regarding decisions made around the nature and types of assessment promoted. Where choice in assessment is provided, it is important that student choices are mediated to ensure that all such choices fully enable students to meet the required learning outcomes.  

For each assessment consider, what is the purpose of the assessment and note that many assessments are designed to provide feedback but not all.  Formative work should directly feed into summative work as part of constructive alignment principles.

It is important that students are made aware of the nature of feedback available and are also supported in making best use of feedback from a variety of sources in addition to their lecturers (self, peers, online, societies, networks etc.) Students need to be guided and supported in developing strong networks of support.

Feedback should be focused on supporting students to understand how they can enhance their work. It needs to be accessible and timely to enable students to be able to use it. Focused feedback (what was good what let you down, how to improve is recommended).

 

Good Practice

Effective assessment feedback practices should support students to:

 

Checklists

  1. Does the assessment process enable learners to demonstrate achievement of all the intended learning outcomes?
  2. To what extent are the requirements of good assessment feedback design being met?  (see Quality Handbook- Guidance on assessment feedback design)
  3. Are there criteria that enable learners and internal and external examiners to distinguish between different categories of achievement?  Are these criteria clear?
  4. Have the generic assessment criteria been interpreted at the task level to support student and lecturer access to the requirements?
  5. Can there be full confidence in the security, integrity and equity of assessment procedures?
  6. Does the assessment design have an adequate formative function in developing student abilities?
  7. What evidence is there that the standards achieved by learners meet the minimum expectations for the award, as measured against relevant subject benchmark statements and the qualifications framework?
  8. What training has been put in place for students and lecturers to be able to have a good understanding of quality assurance assessment literacy?

 

Useful Resources 

Assessment Framework

A Marked Improvement

Integrative Assessment - Blending assignments and assessments for high-quality learning

EAT Framework

Contracting to Cheat in Higher Educationn (QAA:2017)

Assessment, Feedback and Technology

Outcome classification descriptions for FHEQ Level 6

Unpacking Assessments Student Guide (QAA membership resources login required)

Hallmarks of Success Assessment in Digital and Blended Pedagogy (QAA membership resources login required)

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