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Assessment Principles

Assessment is the process of forming a judgement about a student’s attainment of knowledge, understanding or skills.

Each programme of study should include a series of assessment tasks, which together make up the ‘assessment scheme’ for the programme. The scheme is summarized in the Programme Specification and should satisfy three sets of principles, described further below.

(a)     Educational: the processes of assessment should help students learn, or reinforce previous learning, or both.

(b)     Ethical: the processes of assessment should be fair and transparent, and must not discriminate according to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or belief, age, class or disability.

(c)     Regulatory: the processes of assessment should conform to University expectations, as detailed in its regulations, policies, procedures and guidance.

Online assessment should be carefully considered in relation to these principles.

1.  Educational principles

  • Assessment tasks should form an integral part of the curriculum and the teaching and learning process.
  • There should be an appropriate mix of formative and summative assessment throughout the programme, with summative assessments being used formatively, where possible.
  • Excessive and unnecessary assessment should be avoided (an intended learning outcome should not normally be assessed repeatedly).
  • The timing and amount of assessment should be organised to facilitate deep learning (too many similar deadlines for submission may produce surface learning for tasks that singly would encourage deep learning).
  • Feedback to students should be rapid, and should contain positive, encouraging comments where possible as well as pointers for future improvement.
  • All staff contact with students is a potential mechanism for feedback to and from students.
  • Peer assessment (assessment of students’ work by other students) should be used, especially formatively, to provide rapid feedback and promote understanding of assessment criteria and marking scales.
  • Innovation in online assessment, marking and submission of assessed work is encouraged.

2.  Ethical principles

  • Assessment tasks and marking criteria should focus on the intended learning outcomes for the programme or unit.
  • The assessment scheme should allow students to demonstrate their achievement of all the intended learning outcomes by the end of the programme.
  • Students should be informed in advance about the assessment tasks, marking scheme and marking criteria for their programme units.
  • Students should be helped to understand the requirements of assessment, e.g. through guidance, discussion with tutors, model answers or peer assessment.
  • Students should be made aware of the procedure to follow if they wish to query or appeal against an assessment decision.
  • The assessment process should not be biased according to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or belief, age, class or disability.
  • Students and staff should evaluate the effectiveness of the assessment scheme (e.g. during periodic programme reviews).
  • Where assessment takes place online, clear protocols and instructions should be given to the students in advance of the assessment taking place.

3.   Regulatory principles

  • The assessment scheme should provide enough evidence of students’ achievement to enable robust decisions to be made about their progression through the programme and the award of the intended academic qualification.
  • Assessment tasks should allow students to demonstrate achievement appropriate to the level of the intended award in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
  • Assessment tasks should be managed across the programme, to achieve appropriate variety in assessment tasks, avoid unnecessary concentrations of assessment at particular times and reflect intellectual progression through the programme.
  • Assessment should be conducted in accordance with University regulations, policies, procedures and guidance, as set out in this Assessment Framework and elsewhere.