Assessment exercises


1: Assessment Issues

The first exercise below, which should be tackled only briefly, focuses on cultural assumptions about assessment. The second exercise introduces the problematic of assessment choice. The exercises may help to focus a discussion about the relationships between assessment, subject knowledge, institutional and external systems and students’ varied needs. Issues discussed may include student learning, verifiability, the curriculum, plagiarism and uses of the English benchmarking document.

Exercise One

  1. What is assessment for, from the point of view of each of the following constituencies?
    • Students
    • Lecturers
    • Departments
    • Institutions
    • External bodies (the subject community)
    • External bodies (HEFCE., QAA)
  2. How do the expectations about assessment you have identified affect lecturers’

a) attitudes to the use of traditional assessment forms
b) attitudes to the use of innovative assessment forms
c) attempts to communicate effectively about assessment strategies

Exercise Two

  1. Assessment and the English Degree
    Look at the English Benchmarking Statement. What forms of assessment might you make use of if you want to be able to demonstrate that English graduates have the skills named here? (Use specific examples from the document).
  2. Curricula and Assessment
    How have changes in the curriculum (e.g. the provision of creative writing courses; the teaching of theory) affected choices about assessment in the department? (How) have these changes affected the assessment profile of your department?
  3. Assessment and Students
    To what extent have your choices about assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative) been affected by changes in the student body, or by new ideas about how students learn?

2. Choosing and Balancing Forms of Assessment

You could use the exercise here to focus a discussion on the issues involved in using specific traditional and innovative assessment forms. The discussion should help to clarify the issues involved in designing a programme of assessment which is consistent in terms of the discipline and the programme and is consistent in its transparency for students.

Exercise One

If your department has opted to use one or more of the forms of assessment listed below, discuss the ways in which you have dealt with technical and practical issues that have arisen in the process. Which issues remain unresolved, and what kinds of further information would help you in relation to these issues?

  • Oral assessment *
  • Group assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Portfolio use

(*the English Subject Centre has published a report Oral assessment in a discursive discipline. For further resources, please review this website  or your institution’s educational development service.)

You might also want to consider the roles of diagnostic, formative and summative assessment here, as well as issues such as progression and transparency.

Exercise Two

Subject either the ESSAY or the EXAM to the kind of scrutiny you have used to critique ‘innovative’ forms of assessment. You should take into consideration at least two of the following issues: verifiability; cost; student anxiety; student learning; staff training; plagiarism; discipline-related skills; employability. Be careful to consider advantages and disadvantages of the form of assessment you have chosen to discuss.