The Assessment & Feedback Futures project has been established to ensure that staff have all of the support and resources required to move forward with creative learning design that embraces the new assessment standards and guidelines.

The purpose of this project is to support the implementation of the new University's Policy and standards of Assessment, including the use of education technologies where appropriate.  The University's objective is to implement a clear and consistent approach to the University Policy on Assessment.

The  Assessment & Feedback team encourages all Unit Coordinators to utilise the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, a quick quiz which will enable you to self-assess and identify which policy areas you may need to change for 2018. We encourage you to use it to assess where you may like to seek support. Changes to unit information in  CAIDi should be submitted as soon as possible, so we encourage you to take action now!

The University Policy on Assessment lays out a comprehensive approach to assessment and feedback at UWA. Assessment must be fair, integral, valid, and efficient.

Each unit must balance formative and summative assessment, with ordinarily two to three summative assessment items in a six point unit. This encourages staff away from over-assessment, allowing more time to provide students with quality feedback. These items must be of different methods, including (but not limited to) exams and tests, assignments, performance, or active participation. These assessments should be spaced out throughout semester, with students receiving feedback on all their assessed work within three weeks, and at least one week before the next assessment is due.

Formative assessment is assessment for learning. This is an assessment item or activity that has a developmental purpose with feedback for students about their learning. It may carry a mark.

Summative assessment is assessment of learning. This is any assessment that contributes to the final mark of a unit, and measures student performance in relation to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Each summative assessment item must also have a formative (developmental) function.

The policy has a wide range of provisions around assessment and feedback bringing clarity and consistency to the University. For more information on what’s required, including information about the weighting of assessment items, please see the Policy and the supporting resources.

For assistance with learning design or rethinking your approach to assessment, we recommend you attend a Carpe Diem workshop

The University Policy on Assessment lays out the minimum requirements for feedback at UWA.

Students are entitled to feedback on all their assessed work and every unit must provide opportunities for students to receive feedback on their ongoing performance as well as on their achievements for each assessment item. This feedback must be clearly linked to the learning outcomes and the criteria for that assessment item.

This feedback covers a range of purposes, including:

  • clarifying
  • troubleshooting
  • correcting
  • encouraging, and
  • explaining

Feedback should not be purely justifying a mark, or highlighting what the student did wrong! It must be both informative (highlighting strengths and weaknesses with specific examples and explanations) and helpful (offering suggestions about how to improve for next time). Ideally, feedback is a dialog between the student and the assessor.

Timing of feedback

Feedback on assessed work must be provided within 15 University working days of the submission date and one week before the next assessment item is due. This gives students the opportunity to use the feedback they receive to develop their skills for the next assessment item.

Students should also receive formative (developmental) feedback in the first five weeks (or in the equivalent in a non-standard teaching period). This allows students to gauge their understanding and progress before their first high-stakes assessment. Ideally, students should receive regular feedback from a variety of sources throughout semester.

Sources of feedback

Feedback does not need to come only from the Unit Coordinator. Feedback may come from a variety of sources, including:

  • Teaching staff
  • Professional practitioners in your field
  • Fellow students
  • Students’ themselves
  • External audiences

Self and peer assessment and feedback can be valuable tools to support student learning. However, these are best used where students’ skills in assessment and feedback are scaffolded and developed throughout their studies, and are not best used as the only marking or feedback method in high stakes summative assessment. To structure support for self or peer assessment into your unit, please register for a Carpe Diem workshop.

Methods of feedback

Feedback can come in a variety of formats and media, including digital annotations on the student work, overall comments, audio feedback, video feedback, and rubrics. Delivering quality feedback is up to the teacher, not up to the tool! Feedback needs to be fit for purpose and use methods most suitable for student development and engagement, including using appropriate technology - so you may find the most appropriate method or combination of methods varies depending on the assessment item.  You do need to use a rubric or marking key when assessing student work and this must be published to students, preferably both before the assessment is due (to shape their expectations of good performance) and after (as a part of their feedback). The methods you choose to deliver feedback should be clearly articulated to students (for eg in the unit outline, or assessment instructions) to help them identify when and how the feedback will take place.

Annotations can be provided on digitally submitted text-based work submitted through the Learning Management System and overall comments, audio and video feedback, and rubrics can be provided to students on all assessments marked within the LMS. Checklists and microvideos are available to support you with online marking.

Exam feedback

Students are entitled to receive feedback on all assessed work, which includes their exams. However, feedback on exam performance may take the form of generic feedback to the student group, instead of being based on each student’s individual performance. This cohort level feedback could take the form of an examiner’s report on each question, or similar. You can still give students valuable feedback even at the end of the study period. Continue to highlight strengths and weaknesses in the group's’ performance, link that performance to objectives and criteria, and suggest areas for improvement - even if this will take place in their next unit of study.

Students are also entitled to view their marked exam script for five University working days from the receipt of release of results, or during the first week of the next semester or trimester. However, this script remains the property of the University.

Video feedback

Providing high quality feedback to students in an efficient and timely manner can be challenging at times, but the use of video feedback may hold some of the answers. The research is still evolving but recent studies conducted in universities in Australia and overseas indicate that video feedback can deliver a number of benefits for both staff and students. Students find video feedback more personal, supportive and constructive, leading to more engagement with the feedback and strengthening the relationship between student and teaching staff. Staff find that video feedback can be a more efficient way to capture the kind of high quality feedback their students are looking for.

If you are interested in exploring this more, here are some tips:

  • Don’t overly script (just jot down bullet points), edit or re-record your videos – this will save you a lot of time.
  • Videos don’t need to be super-high quality. Managing file size is just as important as producing videos of acceptable quality to convey the feedback.
  • Explore the use of webcam (recording yourself) and/or screen capture (recording what is on your screen) to find the best fit for you.
  • Focus on giving the kind of feedback that students want – there is lots of research out there!
  • Practice makes perfect – don’t be discouraged if at first it seems less efficient.

Further reading

The University Policy on Assessment requires that either a rubric or marking key is used, and published to students, for each assessment item. Ideally, this rubric should be published to students both before the assessment is due and afterwards as part of their feedback (which must be provided on all assessed items). That rubric or marking key should also be used in the standardisation or moderation process for each assessment item.

Rubrics can fulfil a variety of purposes - to help shape student and staff expectations of the marking process and assessment item, to assist in the marking process itself, and to help provide feedback.

Use of a good rubric can:

  • Make the assessment’s criterion referencing explicit and make expectations clear to students
  • Support students’ ability to self-assess
  • Provide quality feedback to students
  • Make the grading process more transparent to students (and markers)
  • Discriminate between levels of achievement
  • Increase the efficiency of your marking
  • Help you to mark more consistently and moderate amongst a team of markers

When using a rubric, be aware:

  • It can be difficult to articulate and describe the levels of performance while writing the rubric
  • It may be hard for students and staff to understand what’s expected if the descriptors are poorly written or the rubric is not discussed before use
  • There is a concern that a poorly-written rubric could ‘give students the answers’ or constrain student responses
  • Use of a rubric to add up a mark may lead to an inappropriate distribution (particularly with a newly written or introduced rubric) unless the levels of achievement are well differentiated
  • There is a concern use of rubrics may lead to student overdependence on rubrics and less able to make overall judgements independently about their work

Tips for developing your rubric:

  • Your rubric criteria should be linked to unit and assessment outcomes, and be clearly articulated
  • Think about your different criteria. Are they all equal when evaluating student work? Are some more significant than others? Make this clear to students and markers by weighting the criteria
  • Use resources like Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy or Bigg’s SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) to help differentiate your criteria between different levels
  • Check your rubric using the Rubric for Rubrics
  • Get peer feedback on your rubric - share with other markers in your unit or discipline, or with someone familiar with your subject area
  • If possible, test your new rubric before you use it on a whole class - either by marking a few past papers for the same assessment item, or by using it alongside your regular marking instrument to compare the results
  • After you’ve used your rubric, seek feedback from students - for example, using a SPOT survey

Further reading

 

Sample rubrics

Faculty resources

 

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