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ASSESSMENT TYPES Undergraduate and Post Graduate

When choosing appropriate assessment types, ask yourself:

  • Is your course professionally orientated or vocational?
  • If so, how authentic / inclusive is your assessment practices?
  • What is your course Unique Selling Point (USP)? And what is the USP in your course assessment practices?

We will first share examples of different types of assessment at UG and PG level, and then explore considerations for choosing a specific type of assessment.

Assessment types

Under graduate assessment types

Access here two extensive guides developed by Reading University and Manchester Metropolitan University exploring assessment types.

Post graduate assessment types

Sally Brown, 2011, presented at a SRHE conference a range of innovative PG assessment practices across the globe. Find a summary here….

Bedfordshire University - MSc in Marketing Communication

Has a strong focus on employability and a number of international students. Assessments include group tasks, but each student also have to produce an individual development portfolio including industry standard diagnostic tests as used in the advertising industry, promotional podcasts and personal reflections. Peer assessment is encouraged.

Cranfield University – Masters in Manufacturing Masters programmes

Assessment includes a group assignment where students work in groups of 4-8, with live clients on authentic tasks. Outputs include project reports, posters, presentations, and other features e.g. Lego models of new factory layouts. Employer clients are involved in the assessment.

York University, UK, - Masters in Management

Have both UK and international students and use a variety of assignments including a mix of presentations (including group ones), open book exams and reflective writing tasks. This form part of a diverse range of assignment which also include traditional essays, exams and dissertations.

University of Cumbria - Masters level programmes at the in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Assignments involve a digitally-enhanced patchwork text approach is used using an e-portfolio too to enable groups of four or five students to collectively throughout the module work on and peer review ‘patches’, which together with an individual reflection comprise the major assignment for the module, within a supporting e-Portfolio.

Griffith University in Queensland Australia - Masters programmes Counselling

One of the modules on the Masters programme involves an intensive week where students come together to work on interpersonal skills using videoed role plays of Counsellors and clients, under the supervision of trained tutors. This is enhanced by the requirement to submit 500 word commentaries and personal reflections on the task.

James Cooke University, Queensland, Australia - Masters in Development Practice

Mainly international students and the assessment tasks are highly authentic and designed to be useful to the communities with whom they are working, for example, the presentation to the communities concerned of systems models, risk assessments and development plans, based on their own on-site research.

UNITEC Institute Technology, New Zealand - Masters of Business

Uses an incremental assessment approach and students have the opportunity to work on live assignments with local companies in which they immerse themselves in a consultancy experience, producing overview reports of real use to the companies concerned.

Central Queensland University (CQU), Australia – Masters in Occupational Health and Safety

Assessment expects students to produce a safe activity design or a risk assessment in a live context. Obtaining ethics approval for the live task is often one of the more challenging elements of the project.

What about digital assessment?

For more ideas on changing landscape of assessment with the move towards more digital teaching and learning practices, explore the guidance by Sally Brown (2020) on her website: https://sally-brown.net/ or see guidance produced in the "Changing landscape of assessment below.

What should assessment look like?

Key considerations for designing assessment

Based on multiple publishers in the field of assessment in HE (Brown, 2015, Bloxham, 2014, Boud, 2010, Boud & Falchikov, 2007), the key considerations for assessment includes:

  • Learning and assessment should be integrated, assessment should not come at the end of learning but should be part of the learning process;
  • Tasks should be challenging, demanding higher order learning and integration of knowledge learned in both the university and other contexts;
  • Students to be involved in self-assessment and reflection on their learning, and in judging their own and others’ performance;
  • Assessment should encourage metacognition, promoting thinking about the learning process not just the learning outcomes;
  • Assessment should have a formative function, providing ‘feedforward’ for future learning which can be acted upon;
  • Assessment expectations should be made visible to students as far as possible;
  • Tasks should involve the active engagement of students developing the capacity to find things out for themselves and learn independently;
  • Tasks should be authentic, worthwhile, relevant and offering students some level of control over their work;
  • Tasks are fit for purpose and align with important learning outcomes;
  • Assessment should be used to evaluate teaching as well as student learning.
Post graduate - what is different in PG assessment?

What is the difference between UG and PG assessment?

‘MASTERY?’ - critical thinking but what does this mean at Masters level?

Masters students are expected to identify problems and look for solutions in their practice. Application and development of students own theoretical ideas. More independent work and therefore we can set more challenging tasks, we can be less prescriptive in a way, about what they have to do. So marking criteria can make the difference between UG and PG assessment.

What about external accreditation

Do we need external accreditation?

Professor Sally Brown referred to an extended study undertaken by Assimilate UK where findings showed:

“More than 80% of programmes encountered in this study were directly aligned to professional practice requirements, or were directly related to employment. Many of the students on these programmes were undertaking advanced study for potential career advancement or employment-related requirements.” (Brown, 2015:174)

With a strong move towards having, where possible, CU courses accredited by professional bodies, much of what Brown noted, is applicable at both UG and PG level.

Assessment as or of learning? What is the difference?

Assessment as(for) learning is:

  • to promote effective learning;
  • formative and diagnostic;
  • steering students’ approach to studying;
  • giving the tutor useful information to inform changes in teaching strategies.
  • to achieve an understanding of standards;
  • to learn how to make judgments;
  • to be able to use criteria;
  • to be able to tell when you really understand something.

Both as and for learning can be immediate, regular, in -class, online and involve the students in their own assessment. It can use peer assessment and in general assessment as/for learning can be quick, cheap and involving low stakes.

Assessment of learning for accreditation on the other hand is more formal feedback, requires second marking, moderation, external examiner involvement, Assessment boards etc. and thus known to be slow, costly and involving high stakes.

In designing assessment, we need to aim for a balance between assessment as and of learning.

References and further reading:

  • Bloxham, S. (2014). Assessing assessment: New developments in assessment design, feedback practices and marking in higher education. In H. Fry, S. Ketteridge, & S. Marshall (Eds.), A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice (pp. 107–122). New York: Routledge.
  • Bloxham, S, and Boyd, P. (2007) Developing assessment in Higher education: a practical guide. Open University press Buckingham
  • Boud, D., & Associates. (2010). Assessment 2020. Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education. Sydney: Australian Learning & Teaching Council. Available: https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/Assessment-2020_propositions_final.pdf
  • Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (Eds.). (2007). Rethinking assessment in higher education: Learning for the longer term. London: Routledge. Available: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203964309
  • Brown, S. (2015) Assessing well at Masters level. In Masters Level Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Issues in Design and Delivery. Ed by Kneale, P. E. (2015) London: Palgrave.
  • Brown, S. (2015). Learning, teaching and assessment in higher education: Global perspectives. London: Palgrave-MacMillan.
  • Manchester Metropolitan University: Guide to assessment type (design). Available: http://www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/assessment/design/tasks/index.php
  • Reading University: Guide to assessment type (design). Available: https://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/eia/A-Z_of_Assessment_Methods_FINAL_table.pdf
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