Rethinking assessment approaches to align with policy changes

This article recaps the Assessment Policy changes which came into effect on January 1, 2021 (outlined in our January 20 blog). The Assessment Policy has been refreshed with a renewed focus on student success. It is underpinned by assessment principles which closely align to those set out in the Good Practice Guide – Assessment principles.

The Assessment Policy sets out the principles that underpin the University’s approach to supporting student success through assessment, namely:

  1. Assessment is integral to learning and encourages, guides and supports learning
  2. Assessment is integral to topic and course design and aligned to appropriate academic and pedagogical standards
  3. Assessment is communicated effectively
  4. Assessment provides valid and reliable evidence of student learning achievements
  5. Assessment is fair and equitable
  6. Assessment practices accord with the University’s academic standards
  7. Approaches to assessment are continuously reviewed with a view to improvement.

There are numerous means of achieving each principle outlined in the policy and in many cases, there are Good practice Guides and Tip sheets available to provide insight to assessment design and considerations relating to authentic assessments. These two resources focus on supporting student success by providing advice and guidance on scaffolding assessments and rethinking assessment types such as exams and essays.

Other means of achieving the principles outlined in the policy discuss the importance of communicating with students and ensuring they are:

  • clearly briefed on what they need to do and what your expectations of them are in relation to the assessment
  • provided with the purpose, requirements, standards and criteria of assessment via the Statement of assessment methods(SAM), (plus assessment instructions and a rubric ideally before they commence the topic)
  • allowed time to discuss the assessments so misunderstandings and concerns are addressed
  • not overloaded with too much or heavily weighted assessments
  • able to demonstrate their achievement of topic and course learning outcomesthrough appropriately aligned assessment
  • assessed at appropriate year and Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level
  • provided with equivalent or comparable assessments where teaching is delivered across a range of locations, by different teaching teams or using different learning platforms
  • assessed in ways designed to promote and support academic integrity
  • provided with rich feedbackwhich clearly supports their learning and allows them to understand why they have achieved the grade they are given
  • able to complete assessment activities which involve the use of technologies and these technologies are selected according to their fitness for purpose, accessibility, safety and usability

The Assessment Policy also requires that assessments are regularly reviewed and advocates the briefing of teaching teams, so all members are working within the same set of criteria and expectations. Appropriately briefing all those teaching and marking within topics will mitigate against inadvertently either advantaging or disadvantaging any students. Ensuring assessments are moderated is also important.

The importance of student success is also indicated in changes to the documents linked to the Assessment Policy. The Grading SchemeAssessment Variation Procedures and Assessment Practice Procedures. The specific changes related to these procedures are discussed in the January 20 blog which also includes details regarding how these policies will be rolled out. The full policy changes (including Schedule A) are available in the Policy Library.

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