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ASSESSMENT AND FEEDBACK


Feedback focuses on how assessment and feedback practices effectively support students’ development, progression and attainment.

 

Assessment and feedback at Northumbria are designed to enable students to become more effective lifelong learners who are empowered to monitor and evaluate their own learning, able to draw upon the resources of teachers, peers and themselves in managing their development. This approach, which encourages students to engage with assessment and feedback, is based upon a relationship in which they are active partners who take shared responsibility for their learning rather than passive consumers of individual feedback. 

 

In order to achieve our ambition for Northumbria Graduates to be critical, reflective and challenging thinkers, the University policies and practices on assessment are designed around eight key aims:

 

Information and examples as to how the Northumbria assessment and feedback principles underpin assessment and feedback practices can be found in our assessment and feedback policy.

Assessment Design

Assessment Design - Good practice

In order to achieve good practice, there are several processes in place:
• Expected learning outcomes have been defined for programmes and modules, and module outcomes are mapped onto programme outcomes in the programme specification (an example of this can be found here)
(You can use the search facility at these inks to view current Programme specifications and Module descriptors)
• There is clear alignment between the expected learning outcomes, what is taught and learned, and the knowledge and skills assessed, thus ensuring validity
• Assessment criteria, and clear marking guidance have been developed that distinguish between different knowledge and skills, and between grades. All assessment information is shared with students, and feedback is given in relation to the assessment criteria. More detail and examples can be found at the ‘Setting assessment tasks’ section.
• Module assessment is integrated into an overall plan/timeline for programme assessment which is shared with students
• Learning outcomes and assessment criteria are written in a way that is understandable to students and can be used to develop their graduate attributes. A specific example can be seen here.
• There is variety and complexity in assessment methods appropriate to the learning outcomes. An in-depth resource which explains the benefits and uses of different assessment methods can be found here –information on specific assessment strategies can be found in the Factsheets on pg 8-16
• There is a progression in the complexity and demands of assessment requirements in later years of modules. Examples of grade descriptors for different academic levels for different assessments can be seen here.
• Plagiarism is minimised through careful task design, explicit education and appropriate monitoring of academic integrity. This online resource gives further guidance on this aspect of assessment design.

• Steps are taken to ensure that assessments and feedback are fair, reliable, flexible and inclusive, and consider student diversity. Some an advice on how to make assessments more inclusive can be found here

It is important that assessment design is undertaken in consideration of other modules on the programme – discussion with the programme team and leader will be helpful during this process. 
The following guidance on specific aspects may be helpful when you are designing assessments:

Academic Regulations for taught awards
Group work assessments
Word limits
Student guidance on avoiding academic misconduct
Anonymous marking policy

Assessment Approval Process

An overview of the process can be found in this poster which was developed by some of our students.
If you need advice on how to upload assessments, there are some helpful ‘how to’ videos are available on the e-vision homepage. This can be accessed through the e-vision link in the ‘IT and systems’ list on the home page of the staff portal (which can be found via the link at the bottom right of the university website).

Assessment Tasks

Assessment tasks are uploaded into e:vision and reviewed internally to ensure the following criteria are met: 

  • Is the form of assessment consistent with the Module Descriptor?
  • Is the assessment rubric/marking criteria clear and consistent with the Module Descriptor?
  • Does the assessment task align with the Module Learning Outcomes?
  • Are the questions/task clear and unambiguous?
  • Is the marking criteria clearly set out for each task and the marking scheme clearly allocated?
  • Are the marking guidelines and solutions included (for internal / external moderator only) appropriate?
  • Does the assessment design prevent/minimise opportunity for plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct?
  • Is the feedback process and timeframe for release of unconfirmed marks clearly stated?
  • If relevant has the assessment been agreed with the International Module Tutors? Is the language used appropriate?
  • Is the assessment brief / exam paper free from spelling, grammatical and typing errors?
  • Are word limits and penalties included where appropriate?
  • Is the breakdown of marks for sectioned questions clear?
  • Is any extra documentation clearly labelled and provided? 

All assessment tasks at level 5,6 and 7 will then also be reviewed by the external examiner through the assessment portal, and external examiners are asked to confirm that this process has occurred as part of their annual report


Feedback on Assessments

Students should be able to identify from the feedback how they have performed in relation to assessment criteria and grades, identifying both strengths and areas for improvement which helps them improve their performance in future assessments. If you want to review your assessment feedback practice, you may find this self-assessment activity helpful. Written Feedback Self-Evaluation document. This online resource discusses principles of good feedback with an emphasis on doing this online.

Assessments feedback sheets should contain:

  • Assessment criteria that are aligned with the learning outcomes for the module.
  • Feedback against each assessment criteria, and the quality of the performance in relation to the marking scheme (for example, by providing space for qualitative comments in relation to each assessment criteria, together with an identification of how students have performed on an attached marking scheme).
  • Space for general qualitative comments, at the bottom of the sheet under specific headings, for example strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Examples of feedback templates can be found in section 4.1’Providing feedback on assessed work’ in the assessment guidance for staff.

Moderation Processes

This poster outlining these processes, was developed by some of our students, and more detailed information and the moderation policy and processes can be found here.

All dissertation/projects will be second marked on a comment/mark concealed basis.

For all other assessments, once initial marking has been undertaken a sample of all assessed work at all levels, apart from dissertation/projects, will be subject to open/check marking - the moderator, having been informed of the first marker’s mark, determines whether that mark is appropriate, repeating the process for all scripts included in the sample.

There are a number of possible outcomes of the internal moderation process:

  • Moderator confirms marks in which case no further action will be taken.
  • Moderator identifies a consistent discrepancy of 5 marks above or below resulting in adjustment of the whole cohort or, in the case of multiple markers, those scripts marked by that member of staff.
  • Moderator identifies discrepancies greater than 5 marks in both directions requiring remarking of all scripts by a third marker, the process being overseen by the Head of Department.

Both marks and the quality of feedback given to students are considered and the moderator is asked to confirm that consistent and acceptable standards of written feedback is provided to students.

The moderator is asked to complete the completed University moderation template, which will detail reasons for any adjustments of marks that may have occurred due to moderation.

For first sit assessment work at level 5 and above, moderation will also be undertaken by the external examiner. This process may also be required at level 3 and 4 where modules contribute directly to an award or to meet requirements of professional bodies.

Promoting student engagement with Assessment

Students should have opportunities to engage with, clarify and understand goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task.

  • Assessment information should be accessible on the e learning portal/blackboard at the start of each module.
  • Different types of academic misconduct should be discussed with students in class, so that they have a clear understanding of acceptable academic practice. An example of a resource, written by Joe Hardwick, which is used in history can be found here History Academic Misconduct Examples

  • Formative assessment activities which engage them in understanding judgements are specified on every module descriptor. Discussion of assessment briefs and active engagement with assessment criteria should take place within formally scheduled time/in class – for example by using exemplars, previous questions, peer feedback or indicative answer notes. Where appropriate (for example in a first-year module, final major projects, dissertations), students may be given the opportunity to make a formative submission where feedback is provided. 'Using Assessment' Example


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