Assessment policy changes: So, what should I do with my assessments now?

By now we are all aware that the Assessment Policy has been revised and those changes came into effect at the beginning of 2021. However, we have until 2022 before the revised Assessment Practice Procedures come into effect. For 2021, course and topic assessment will align with new practices through adherence to Schedule A of the Assessment Policy. Schedule A captures the relevant provisions from the current Assessment Policy which will be extended until 1 January 2022 (when those new Assessment Practice Procedures will take effect).

What has changed in the Assessment Practice Procedures, and how do I assess differently?
Although there may be some changes you need to make to comply with Schedule A, you shouldn’t need to change all your assessments for this year.  What this means is that you can spend some time across 2021 considering how you might need or want to change your assessments to be ready for 2022. The main changes to Assessment Practice Procedures include:

  • the inclusion of examinations in topic assessment only where it is deemed the most appropriate method for assessing student learning or required for professional registration or accreditation
  • student attendance only to be included as a component of the topic’s final grade where it can be linked to the demonstration of the achievement of learning outcomes, safe practice, professional competencies, or registration/accreditation requirements
  • the number of assessment activities to be kept to a minimum
  • where larger assessment activities make up a major percentage of the final topic grade these should be clearly scaffolded with staged opportunities for students to review their learning progress
  • moderation to take place at three stages across the assessment cycle: at the time of topic assessment design, during the teaching period and when submitting topic final grades.

How do I assess differently?
Let’s look at some different methods of assessing based on these changes. It can be helpful to reflect on Laurillard’s (2012) learning types when thinking about assessment so that you can best align assessment to learning outcomes (e.g. if one of your learning outcomes is to critically analyse X, then an exam assessing acquisition of knowledge may not be the most appropriate choice).

Acquisition Collaboration Discussion Investigation Practice Production
Learning through acquisition is what learners are doing when they are listening to a lecture or podcast, reading from books or websites, and watching demos or videos (the teacher controls the narrative of learning). Learning through collaboration embraces mainly discussion, practice, and production. Building on investigations and acquisition it is about taking part in the process of knowledge building itself. Learning through discussion requires the learner to articulate their ideas and questions, and to challenge and respond to the ideas and questions from the teacher, and/or from their peers. Learning through investigation guides the learner to explore, compare and critique the texts, documents and resources that reflect the concepts and ideas being taught. Learning through practice enables the learner to adapt their actions to the task goal and use the feedback to improve their next action. Feedback may come from self-reflection, from peers, from the teacher, or from the activity itself, if it shows them how to improve the result of their action in relation to the goal. Learning through production is the way the teacher motivates the learner to consolidate what they have learned by articulating their current conceptual understanding and how they used it in practice.



If you have an exam, and need to change it, consider if the students could meet the learning outcomes of the topic through a different form of assessment or other coursework requirements. Exams generally assess acquisition of knowledge so this may be straightforward. If so, then you could simply re-weight and/or re-design the other assessments or learning activities within the topic. Otherwise think about what alternatives you could use instead of an exam to assess the relevant learning outcomes. Reflect on what the learning outcomes entail and align the assessment with it. Some examples are given below:

Learning type Acquisition Collaboration Discussion Investigation Practice Production
Assessment types Consider a more research-based approach with a reflective component Create a webpage (on an issue to do with topic content) Analyse and reflect on an online discussion within the topic Critique and explanation of video practice (e.g. find / create videos and post online; include a critique task for students) Video upload of task performance

Reflection on online role plays or other online practice tasks

Portfolio production (e.g., series of videos / artefacts showing production over time)

Real time viva


More examples can be found in the resource: Assessment alternatives to exams.


Think about what it is about attendance that is important for that class in terms of achieving the learning outcomes. If its related to safe practice, competencies or accreditation requirements, its fine to still require it. If not, what learning activities are the students undertaking and could they achieve these without attending? What different learning activities might they engage in to still achieve the same outcomes or to motivate them to attend?

Learning type Acquisition Collaboration Discussion Investigation Practice Production
Assessment types In-class peer instruction activities Collaborate on a group task with time allowed during class to work on the assessment task Assess participation in tutorials Explore online databases and how they are used Role playing with peer feedback and self-assessment to develop skills Present on the production of a blog, video, program they have developed for class discussion / feedback


Number of assessments

There’s not a set limit for assessment but over-assessment has been commonplace in the past. Multiple quizzes or discussion forums within a topic (and then across several topics within a course) make the assessment load very high for some students. Summative (i.e. graded) assessments should assess the learning outcomes and there should not need to be multiple assessments for the same learning outcomes. Once the student has demonstrated they have achieved the learning outcome, they shouldn’t need to be repeatedly assessed on it. Quizzes can be helpful for revision so think about re-purposing them as optional formative assessment to support the students’ learning. Discussion forums can also be useful but maybe only have 3 – 4 over the teaching period and discuss more in-depth rather than one forum a week.

Scaffolded large assessments

Where an assessment makes up a major percentage of the grade, it’s possible for the student to fail the topic just based on that one assessment. If you have significant assessment items (e.g. those worth 50% or more of the final topic grade) then deconstruct them somewhat to allow for a more scaffolded assessment. For example:

  • The development of a community intervention program could be divided into the needs analysis, the program plan and implementation and then an evaluation plan as three separate assessment items.
  • A literature review could be broken down into a summary of the database search terms and results, a draft plan and the final product.
  • A video could be broken down into the story board and plan, the video and a final reflection on the piece.


Start moderation now by having a colleague review any changes you are considering to your assessments and getting their feedback. Having another perspective on your assessments and assignment instructions or rubrics is incredibly helpful in ensuring they are clear and logical to the students (i.e. if a colleague who is unfamiliar with the topic can understand them the students should be able to as well).

There are plenty or online resources to help you with your changes to assessment so have a look at them, talk to colleagues, your college academic developer and online learning support team.


Laurillard, D. (2012) Teaching as Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology, New York: Routledge.

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