Tasks > Distribution

Choosing when assessment tasks are distributed and scheduled across a semester is more than just an administrative decision. Carefully connecting tasks with areas of overlap provides an opportunity to create an assessment narrative for a unit, with multiple opportunities for learners to act upon feedback and demonstrate how they have improved. This assessment narrative includes alignment with other activities such as lectures, tutorials and practicums. The effort required to complete a task should also be considered. Scheduling feedback opportunities is an important issue, as time must be allocated for judging assessment and providing feedback. Talking with colleagues about the assessment in their units can help pre-empt assessment ‘pinch points’ throughout the semester where learners have many tasks due at once. There may also be institutional imperatives, such as examination periods which dictate how assessment is scheduled.

Assessment considerations:

  • Does your department or institution have any rules about the scheduling of assessment tasks?
  • What are the assessment schedules of the other units your learners are undertaking? Are there potential synergies or conflicts?
  • How much time do you expect each task to take learners? How do you know if these are reasonable estimates?
  • What arrangement of these tasks will most encourage a sustained engagement and development over the whole semester?
  • How can you time this sequence of tasks to ensure assessors and learners have multiple opportunities to engage in feedback?
  • How will you support learners who underperform or miss earlier tasks so they have a chance to complete later tasks?
  • What adjustments will you need to make to the teaching schedule so assessments can be completed and feedback provided in a timely fashion?

Also refer to:

Tasks > Activities which drive learning

Feedback processes > Multiple feedback opportunities

Feedback processes > Influence of learner performance

Educator experiences

Frequent small tasks to promote sustained work

With one assessment task, I tell them about it in week one but it’s not due til week seven. Because of the propensity of the students to leave things to the last minute, what we’ve done is set up little mini-quizzes. These quizzes are only in the end worth 2 per cent but with certain weeks, like week one, week three, week four, and week six, there’s these little mini-quizzes that are worth half a per cent. So it’s trying to force them to do the activity and not leave it to the last minute. – Science lecturer

Getting students to start work early in the semester

We ask them to complete a task very early on. And they complain like billy-o, “What are you doing, making us do this at four weeks?” And then towards the end of semester, they go, “I see why you made me do that. It really got me started.” So this preliminary investigation memo is getting them started, I make the tutors absolutely cover it in feedback comments, so that the students know where they’re sitting – Engineering lecturer