7.1 Good practice assessment design

assessment as learning

Assessment is an integral process of learning and teaching throughout a subject or course, it is not something that just happens at the end to measure student performance. Assessment frames student learning and provides evidence of achievement.

Assessments do not only measure how much students have learned, they also play an important role in the learning process. While exposure to learning content and activities introduce students to new information and concepts and may help students store this information, it is crucial that students actively practice retrieving and applying this information. Regular formative and summative assessment across a subject provides students with the practice opportunities that are essential to learning. If we want students to apply their learning in a wide variety of contexts, they must practice what they’re learning in a wide variety of contexts. Providing a variety of assessment types gives students multiple opportunities to practice and demonstrate learning.

In this video, the concept of assessment for learning is further explained, including a focus on the importance of formative assessment across a subject or course.

What is assessment for learning? Oxford University Press ELT

Quality assessment design principles

There are some general overarching principles associated with designing quality assessment tasks. These principles contribute directly to student achievement and experience, as well as quality and governance requirements.


Authentic assessment

One of the core principles of JCU Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy (2021) outlines that authenticity is an essential element of assessment.  Assessment can be considered authentic when the task meets academic standards and prepares and challenges students to demonstrate knowledge, skill or application that is needed to negotiate the requirements of a real-life setting. As educators, we need to help students to be lifelong learners. An important benefit of using authentic assessment is the opportunity for students to learn 21st-century skills (e.g., innovation, decision-making, collaboration, citizenship, cultural competence, metacognition, digital literacy).

This video provides an overview of authentic assessment including the benefits for students’ learning and some principles of design.

Liverpool Hallmark: Authentic Assessment, Presented by Kris Spelman Miller, LivUni CIE

Principles of authentic assessment

Adapted from Hetherington & Hetherington (2006)

Additional resources related to authentic assessment

Assessment criteria

As outlined above, one of the essential elements associated with quality assessment is ensuring students and staff have access to clearly defined and aligned criteria standards or rubrics. These criteria provide a framework that clarifies assessment requirements and standards of performance for different grades. In this, they support assessment as learning; students can see what is important and where to focus their learning efforts.

A marking rubric helps you to communicate the standards of the assessment task to your students and markers and is an effective way to implement standards-based assessment. A marking rubric contains descriptors of the standards for a number of criteria, usually in the form of a grid or matrix.

Grading rubrics, which have many forms, have been around for a long time. In simplest terms, they help you score assignments objectively and consistently. Walvoord & Anderson (1998) describe the components in creating a rubric (see their book, Effective Grading). This video discusses the use of rubrics for assessment in online learning environments.

Assessment with rubrics in online environments, Brock University, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, CC BY 4.0

Tips for designing assessment criteria and rubrics

Also review the JCU ‘Developing Assessment Rubrics: Guidelines for Subject Coordinators‘ resource.


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