Assessing students’ work
Using the right approach
There are a number of systems for assessing students’ work. Two of these systems are criterion-referenced and norm-referenced assessment. At the University of Glasgow, we use criterion-referenced assessment. This system means that every student has the opportunity to demonstrate their own achievement against a set of criteria and are not judged against their peers. Using this means of assessing work is fair because it rewards each student for their own effort.
The system in which a student’s achievements are judged in relation to objectives or criteria, irrespective of other students’ performance, or of your opinion (as a marker) of those criteria. This system is known as standards-based assessment.
According to the Code of Assessment, you must make the criteria available to your students in advance of the assessment so that they know what criteria they will be marked against and where possible, the criteria should be discussed with them so that they have a good understanding of what the criteria mean.
Note: this does not mean that you need to make the marking rubric available to students undertaking the assessment, prior to the assessment. However, it is good practice to discuss the rubric with your students after the assessment and marking has taken place so that they can see where they might improve in the future.
The system in which students’ work is placed in rank order, where grades are assigned by comparison to other students’ performance rather than on the absolute quality of the student’s individual performance.
Bloxham, S, Boyd, P & Orr, S (2011) Mark my words: the role of assessment criteria in UK higher education grading practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36(6), pp: 655-670