While assessment tasks usually seem clear to educators, this is often not the case for many learners. In fact most, if not all, learners benefit from efforts to make expectations as clear as possible. There are several reasons for this: some learners may be new to higher education; they may come from a variety of educational backgrounds; they may be new to the discipline; they may not have experienced a particular kind of assessment task before; or a task may be unusual or particularly complex. Students often need to learn about assessment just as they need to learn about subject content â€“ through explanations, questions, discussions, examples and practice. Sequencing of non-graded and graded tasks can assist with this, as can feedback opportunities. It is also important that students understand why the assessment is valuable for them in terms of learning, as well as any associated formal requirements or longer term benefits.
- Are learners familiar with the kind of assessment tasks you are using or will these be new to at least some of your learners?
- How will learners know why they are completing the assessment?
- How can you best convey to learners what they need to do to address the assessment tasks?
- Are there adequate opportunities for learners to discuss and clarify what is expected?
- How might you use examples of past learnersâ€™ work to clarify what constitutes good work for present learners?
- Are there opportunities for learners to practice assessment tasks in class, e.g. through activities, short presentations or quizzes?
- How can you best use marking rubrics with your learners to clarify expectations?
Also refer to:
Context > Characteristics of enrolled students
Context > Institutional assessment principles and policies
Feedback processes > Multiple feedback opportunities
Showing examples of studentsâ€™ work
Students love to see someone elseâ€™s work and I feel a bit conflicted about it, because then sometimes I think it becomes a bit â€˜monkey see, monkey doâ€™. But I think it works in terms of getting them to produce a better quality submission. â€“ Education lecturer
I think if you put more time into getting the instructions in the rubric right, you save time for yourself later … and thatâ€™s been my experience in all of the units that Iâ€™ve taught. Where Iâ€™ve had to teach with a set of instructions or a rubric that someone else has written but not necessarily thought about very carefully, it always becomes a nightmare because the students are confused, the academics are confused and more time is lost in marking and double-marking and moderating. â€“ Education lecturer
- The Centre for Studies in Higher Education/AUTC Assessing students unfamiliar with assessment practices in Australian higher education project has a section on Helping students understand assessment expectations cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/intstaff.html
- The University of Edinburghâ€™s Enhancing Feedback site has a section about briefing and training students for feedback enhancingfeedback.ed.ac.uk/staff/resources/briefing.html
- The University of Wollongong has a brief resource about Making expectations clear, using accessible language uow.edu.au/dvce/socialinclusion/inclusiveteaching/advice4teachers/expectations/index.html