All units have official learning outcomes or objectives detailed in the approval documentation that students are expected to achieve. Ensuring that students can demonstrate what they have learned in relation to these formal outcomes is one of the purposes of assessment. When designing (or redesigning) assessment, it is important to critically evaluate the learning outcomes to see how well the unit learning outcomes align with the assessment tasks set. Additionally, it is also worth mapping the content of a unit against the learning outcomes to determine how well the non-graded activities contribute towards the learning outcomes and the assessment tasks. These links have to be communicated to the students to help them understand the unit as a whole and how it contributes to their learning. It may also be valuable to consult with others who have taught in the unit before (e.g. previous lecturers and tutors) and those teaching related units in the same program.
- How well do the learning outcomes reflect what students need to learn from this unit?
- How does completion of the assessment tasks align with achieving the learning outcomes?
- How do the assessment tasks contribute towards the learning outcomes?
- What non-graded activities (in-class or online) and associated feedback help learners to complete the assessment tasks?
- How would you investigate alternative or better forms of assessment that would achieve the learning outcomes?
- How are the links between non-graded activities, assessment tasks and unit outcomes/objectives communicated to the learners?
Also refer to:
Tasks > Activities which drive learning
Tasks > Criteria for successful completion
Tasks > Identifying which tasks are graded
Interactions > Learner requirements
Interactions > Changes to teaching and learning activities
Mapping learning outcomes onto assessment
We align unit learning outcomes to make sure the assessment tasks match. We go even further and make sure that the specific activities in a unit contribute towards students achieving the assessment task. That way we donâ€™t include arbitrary activities that have no relationship to the assessment task. â€“ Education lecturer
Integrating content and assessment
My starting point was the learning objectives. For one learning objective, the module and the assessment were very separate. I thought: â€śtheyâ€™re not learning that in context, that is not authentic. It really needs to be integrated.â€ť So my starting point really was the learning objectives which helped me to detect and solve that problem. â€“ Engineering lecturer
- The University of New South Wales Assessment Toolkit has a section about Aligning Assessment with Outcomes unsw.edu.au/aligning-assessment-learning-outcomes
- The University of Queensland Assessment website has a resource about assessment and Biggsâ€™ SOLO taxonomy of learning outcomesÂ uq.edu.au/tediteach/assessment/resources.html
- The University of Sydneyâ€™s assessment website has a page about learning outcomes, with a focus on writing them well itl.usyd.edu.au/assessmentresources/learning_outcomes.htm