What your students should know about assessment
What can you do?
When it comes to assessment, we know that it is a huge, perhaps the biggest, motivator for our students’ learning. Assessment is, after all, the main thing that our students have to engage with if they want to be successful during their time at University. In order to support our students to demonstrate the best that they can be, and to assist them in doing the best they can in the assessments we set them, we need to be transparent about the assessment methods we use and support our students to understand them. Formative assessment helps with this as it allows our students to practise the assessment method without the risk of doing so in a summative assessment. Discussing the assessment and what we expect of our students also helps. In this way, our students can demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of the subject, not of the assessment type. This requires us to be clear about why we are asking our students to undertake the assessments we set, how they relate to the ILOs and what the students will gain from them.
Talking about assessment
You can discuss assessment with your students in many ways. For example, you can discuss the types of question students will face and give them the opportunity to practice them beforehand. This type of formative assessment is useful for demystifying the assessment students will face, allowing them to perform better. You could also look at the criteria you will mark the work against, with your students and talk through what they mean so that your students understand what it is you are looking for. You might consider asking your students to use the criteria to mark sample pieces of work so that they really gain an understanding of what the criteria mean and what the markers will be looking for. You might even work with your students to create criteria (or some of the criteria) against which they are marked, giving them some ownership of the assessment process.