Assessment tasks are in general broadly identified as graded activities prior to commencing teaching. This can lead to some disconnect as it may take up to 18 months to change the formal requirements associated with a unitâ€™s grades. Details of the task may be changed at various junctures, but publishing of the unit guide also represents a â€˜fixedâ€™ point after which criteria, schedules and broad task descriptions generally do not change.
When considering which activities should be graded, it is helpful to take an overview of the entire unit first, to establish the overall pattern of formative and summative feedback and assessment in relation to the overall teaching. In particular, learners should only be graded on content which has already been taught and which aligns with the unit learning outcomes. In this way, the grade is a direct indication of the learnerâ€™s achievement against the unit outcomes. Tasks should be selected for grading if they can be assessed equitably and appropriately. Also important, assessment designs should ensure tasks are neither too easy nor too burdensome for students through careful selection of activities. Segmenting tasks(just assessing a part of a task) can be helpful for learnersâ€™ and assessorsâ€™ workloads.
- How can you write flexible formal requirements for your unit guide?
- How do the total of graded tasks align with unit learning outcomes?
- How can issues of validity and equity (such as ensuring the assessment is a fair indication of learnersâ€™ capacities or that assessors are suitably prepared) be addressed?
- How do you ensure that learnersâ€™ and assessorsâ€™ workloads are not overly burdensome?
- How do non-graded tasks, with opportunities for feedback, support graded activities?
- What are the individual learner versus grouped assessment considerations in the graded activity?
Also refer to:
Distribution of grades
There can be a lot of angst over the distribution of grades in a unit with an idea that we have to achieve an appropriate distribution by the end of the semester. My approach is to make sure I donâ€™t lose sight of the learning objectives for the unit and make sure my marking criteria clearly relate back to them. The way I do it is make a table with a row for each task and then a column for the learning objective the task is addressing and then the marking criteria. That way I can see by comparing columns where the inconsistencies are. â€“Â Education lecturer
Reducing the number of graded tasks
We had our course externally reviewed, and the feedback was that we were grading too many tasks. It was a burden for the students and it was definitely a burden for us. We carefully reviewed the contribution to the unit, and realised that some of the tasks could be supported in class and were not required to meet the unitâ€™s learning outcomes. I used to want to grade an item for every objective. Iâ€™ve now realised that it is more meaningful for students to carefully select my tasks to cover a range of objectives; and certainly better for my marking load. â€“ Health Sciences educator
- The University of New South Wales Assessment Toolkit has sections on Standards-Based Assessment unsw.edu.au/standards-based-assessment, and Grading and Giving Feedback teaching.unsw.edu.au/grading-assessment-feedback
- The University of Technology Sydney Assessment Futures site has a section on Grading and exams www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/teaching-and-learning/assessment-futures/designing-and-redesigning-assessmen-1