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Help clarify good performance (goals, criteria, standards). Do your students understand the assessment criteria that you use?  Do they understand the standards required to achieve a particular grade for each criterion or overall?  Do you discuss these with them before they start the task? 

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help clarify good performance goals criteria standards
Help clarify good performance (goals, criteria, standards)
  • Do your students understand the assessment criteria that you use? 
  • Do they understand the standards required to achieve a particular grade for each criterion or overall? 
  • Do you discuss these with them before they start the task? 
  • If you do, are the students able to state these in their own words?
  • Research has shown that students who engage with assessment criteria and standards are more likely to be able to manage their own learning.  For example, Rust et al. (2003) found that by working with students in their first term on assessment, assessment criteria and marking, that there was a significant increase in the marks in the final assessment, compared with students who had not taken part in the exercise.
encourage time and effort on challenging learning tasks
Encourage 'time and effort' on challenging learning tasks
  • Are your assessments designed to encourage students to work in and out of class throughout the semester or year? 
  • Can the students see the relevance of the assessment task – is it an authentic assessment?
  • Spreading activities either as discrete pieces of work or as components of a single piece of work throughout the module balances the student workload and can encourage deep learning.  This approach also provides opportunities for ongoing feedback. Even if marks are attached to the individual elements (summative assessment), the activities will also be formative assessments, because students should be able to build on the feedback provided for subsequent stages or elements.
  • Although a particularly useful approach to use with first year students, this can be extended to students in other years.
deliver high quality feedback
Deliver high quality feedback
  • What kind of feedback do you provide?
  • How does it encourage students to assess and correct themselves?
  • It is important that students have the opportunity to learn from the feedback provided by staff.  That learning however, may be enhanced by high quality feedback.  Students are less likely to act on poor quality feedback.  Students’ issues with feedback include the time it takes to receive feedback after submitting the work, understanding the feedback that has been given – this could be the language used, the handwriting, not understanding the abbreviated shorthand, or the grade. Summary sheet comments should be explicit enough for the student to act on them intelligently. For example, does a student know what ‘your spelling needs some attention’ or ‘much of this work was irrelevant’ mean?  Feedback should also be about feed forward - what the student can do next time to improve performance.
provide opportunities to act on feedback
Provide opportunities to act on feedback

Staff often raise the issue that students do not use the feedback given.  There are a number of reasons why this might be including:

  • students’ perception of feedback coming too late
  • the module is over, and/or
  • the mark achieved is acceptable to them.
  • Students need to use both formative and summative feedback as a means of improving their future performance.  Other than via the next piece of assessed work, do you provide students with opportunities to internalise and act on the feedback given?  Equally, students will not be able to action the feedback if they do not understand it – this usually comes down to the terminology used by the assessor.
encourage interaction and dialogue around learning
Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning
  • What types of dialogue do you have with your students regarding feedback?
  • What types of dialogue do you encourage students to have with their peers?
  • Dialogue between students and between staff and students plays an important role in student success.  Students need to engage in dialogue around feedback. 
  • Large first year classes make one-to-one interaction between staff and students difficult, but meaningful dialogue can take place between students.  
development of self assessment and reflection
Development of self-assessment and reflection
  • How are students developing graduate skills?
  • Do your students recognise their strengths and weaknesses?
  • If students are to acquire the skills of regulating their own learning and development they need to be able to self-assess their work. 
  • Providing students with opportunities to engage with self-assessment in a formal manner is likely to develop more autonomous learners and lead to greater engagement with criteria and standards.
give choice of topic method criteria weighting or timing of assessments
Give choice of topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of assessments
  • Are there opportunities for your students to choose the topic of their assessment?
  • Does the class negotiate and agree deadlines?
  • Does the class have the opportunity to discuss and have input to the assessment criteria?
  • Being able to manage and prioritise work is a key graduate skill. Providing students with opportunities to make decisions about which topic to do, when to hand work in, the weighting of an assessment or part of it, enables them to practise this skill. For example, students often have a choice of topic, or some online testing designs allow students to choose when to take a test during a specified period.
create learning communities
Create learning communities
  • How do your students learn together?
  • What opportunities are there for student interaction in your courses within and beyond the classroom?
  • Feeling part of a group is important for success at University. This includes opportunities to interact with staff outside the classroom as well as interaction with other students. Social interaction is more difficult when class sizes are large; students live at home or go home regularly and have increasing work commitments outside University.
  • Students also benefit from supporting each other in their academic study through the development of learning communities. Assessment and feedback practices can help to engender social integration and the development of learning communities.