Assessment

Good Feedback Practices (2014)
Prompts and guidelines for reviewing and enhancing
feedback for students

Ryan Naylor, Chi Baik, Christine Asmar and Kim Watty

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Guide for Reviewing Assessment (2005).
A question-based checklist of the fundamental aspects of effective assessment primarily designed for use by coordinators of subjects and courses. Also useful to those involved in assessment design, practice or policy development.
It is recommended that the PDF version be used for general distribution of this document. Double-sided printing is recommended.
The Guide for Reviewing Assessment was developed for the University of Melbourne but permission is granted for copying, distribution and use by other institutions, with appropriate acknowledgement.
Some users may elect to replace the examples with ones they believe best illustrate thoughtful and practical approaches to assessment relevant to their disciplines and teaching and learning environments. Any such modifications must be clearly identified as such on the modified MSWord version
Bioassess: Enhancing Assessment in the Biological Sciences - ideas and resources for university educators (2007).(Website)
The bioassess website presents a comprehensive picture of assessment practice and learning priorities in the biological sciences. It incorporates specific examples drawn from undergraduate courses in a diverse arrary of life science disciplines, and provides strategies and tips to guide good practice in assessment. While having a focus on the biological sciences, the bioassess site has much wider application and covers topics of relevance to all disciplines.
Assessment
Assessment contributes to establishing the framework in which students learn. It is a powerful tool with which to guide student learning. This booklet is an introduction to issues in assessment in higher education.
Assessment of Essays
A new era in assessing student learningThe Assessing Student Learning resources have been developed to assist Australian universities to maintain high quality assessment and grading practices, and to respond to new issues in the assessment of student learning.
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Immersing a faculty in assessment: Making an organisational cultural shiftEnhancing assessment practices and embedding new approaches to assessment within teaching and learning practices requires more than professional development for staff — it also requires a process of organisational change and development. The case study below is an example of how processes for organisational change and professional development were married at the Queensland University of Technology’s Faculty of Business.
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Renewing policy and practice: Frameworks for institutional, faculty and department actionThe purpose of this section is to suggest practical ways in which assessment policy and practice can be reviewed and renewed. The key steps in making and managing change that follow are based on observations from case studies of educational innovations, including examples from the Assessing Learning project. Regardless of what level the change is targeted at — university, faculty, or department — the primary objective is to produce sustained effects that survive well beyond the enthusiasm of individual change agents. It is not simply about redrafting policy statements and regulations. The values underlying approaches to assessment are so deeply embedded in academic practices developed over many years that it is often extremely difficult to change them without challenging fundamental and often competing assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning across the institution.

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A model assessment planThe Assessing Student Learning project sought an example of assessment best practice that recognised the importance of evolving assessment practices across the year levels: from first year assessment, when students have their entire undergraduate studies before them, to final year, the brink of professional practice. Such an example is provided below by Stuart Palmer of Deakin University. Stuart Palmer offers an excellent example of a carefully designed, strategic assessment regime that is thoroughly integrated with his teaching and learning goals.

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Assessing group workWhen effective group management processes are employed, clear assessment guidelines developed and communicated and valid and fair grading processes employed, the likelihood of positive learning outcomes and student satisfaction with group activities is significantly increased. Alternatively, if students cannot see the objective of group work, are unsure of what is expected of them, or believe the assessment methods are invalid or simply unfair, the educational benefits are reduced and tensions can emerge.

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Assessing students unfamiliar with assessment practices in Australian higher educationAustralian higher education has assessment practices that are quite different from assessment practices in some other international settings. The following suggestions will particularly benefit international students unfamiliar with assessment practices in Australian universities and may also assist local students to adjust to this higher education’s new expectations.

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Advice for students unfamiliar with assessment practices in Australian higher educationThis guide provides a brief overview of the practices of assessment of learning in Australian universities. The information, suggestions and advice that follow will be especially useful if you are an international student who has little or no experience of the Australian university system. It will also be useful if you have had experience of assessment methods that are very different from Australian university practices, either at high school or university in another country.

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Assessing large classesAfter a decade of rapid expansion in Australian higher education, student numbers have grown considerably in many courses and subjects, especially at the undergraduate level. Larger class sizes pose significant teaching challenges, not least in the assessment of student learning. Perhaps most troubling, large classes may limit the amount of feedback provided to students.

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On-line assessmentA good deal of investigation and development is underway in Australian universities into the possibilities for effective and efficient on-line and computer-based assessment. The current commercial ‘virtual learning environments’, which integrate various curriculum elements at subject level into a single software portal, usually offer various built-in options for student assessment. As well, many on-line assessment initiatives are being locally developed to suit specific curriculum needs.

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Plagiarism detection software: How effective is it?The first thing to note about plagiarism detection software is that much of it is ephemeral. The available software tends to come and go: new software and websites surface and then disappear. It is difficult to predict how many stable products will emerge.

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Comparison of Plagiarism Software FeaturesThis document gives a comparison of the features of the plagiarism detection software described in the overview.

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Minimising plagiarismUniversities throughout the world have become concerned with the question of how to minimise and respond appropriately to student plagiarism and other forms of cheating. Australian universities are highly active in educating students about plagiarism and in detecting breaches of their academic expectations. The advice and resources provided here are designed to assist these efforts.

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36 Strategies Presentation
Overview of plagiarism detection softwareThis document gives an overview of available plagiarism detection software.

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Core principles of effective assessment

Assessment is a central element in the overall quality of teaching and learning in higher education. Well designed assessment sets clear expectations, establishes a reasonable workload (one that does not push students into rote reproductive approaches to study), and provides opportunities for students to self-monitor, rehearse, practise and receive feedback. Assessment is an integral component of a coherent educational experience.

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A model assessment plan
The Assessing Student Learning project sought an example of assessment best practice that recognised the importance of evolving assessment practices across the year levels: from first year assessment, when students have their entire undergraduate studies before them, to final year, the brink of professional practice. Such an example is provided below by Stuart Palmer of Deakin University. Stuart Palmer offers an excellent example of a carefully designed, strategic assessment regime that is thoroughly integrated with his teaching and learning goals.

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A comparison of norm-referencing and criterion-referencing methods for determining student grades in higher education
The essential characteristic of norm-referencing is that students are awarded their grades on the basis of their ranking within a particular cohort. Norm-referencing involves fitting a ranked list of students’ ‘raw scores’ to a pre-determined distribution for awarding grades. Usually, grades are spread to fit a ‘bell curve’ (a ‘normal distribution’ in statistical terminology), either by qualitative, informal rough-reckoning or by statistical techniques of varying complexity. For large student cohorts (such as in senior secondary education), statistical moderation processes are used to adjust or standardise student scores to fit a normal distribution. This adjustment is necessary when comparability of scores across different subjects is required (such as when subject scores are added to create an aggregate ENTER score for making university selection decisions).

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Quality and standardsAustralia benefits greatly from a national and international reputation for high academic standards and high quality universities, courses and graduates. When questions are raised about academic standards they are often associated with assessment practices, in particular student grading. Of course, the assurance of academic standards embraces a wide range of university activities beyond the assessment of student learning. However, assessment and grading practices are perhaps the most important safeguard.

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A comparison of norm-referencing and criterion-referencing methods for determining student grades in higher educationThe essential characteristic of norm-referencing is that students are awarded their grades on the basis of their ranking within a particular cohort. Norm-referencing involves fitting a ranked list of students’ ‘raw scores’ to a pre-determined distribution for awarding grades. Usually, grades are spread to fit a ‘bell curve’ (a ‘normal distribution’ in statistical terminology), either by qualitative, informal rough-reckoning or by statistical techniques of varying complexity. For large student cohorts (such as in senior secondary education), statistical moderation processes are used to adjust or standardise student scores to fit a normal distribution. This adjustment is necessary when comparability of scores across different subjects is required (such as when subject scores are added to create an aggregate ENTER score for making university selection decisions).

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Tips for new staffThis section is for people with little or no experience in assessing student learning. Often people new to university teaching are not yet in a position to determine the nature of assessment in the courses in which they are involved. However this should not stop consideration of the twelve principles below.

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Ready-to-use resources
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Case Studies