How can students learn about 'standards'?

Knowing what is expected, and especially knowing what excellent work looks like, is a huge step towards improved performance.

To learn how to pass or how to achieve higher grades in essay writing tasks, students can read advice provided by Departments and Programs. This advice is often called the Interpretation of Grades.

Learning about standards also happens in an ongoing way, as students progress from task to task and unit to unit during a course of study. This is because standards of achievement cannot be simply summed up in one set of explicit descriptions. Every individual responds in unique ways, and so assessing complex work like essays is a complex task that requires experience and knowledge.

In fact, both teachers and students really only acquire a deep understanding of standards through experience. This involves repeated practice in making, discussing and comparing judgments about their own and others’ work over time.

So, in any subject area, a student who wants to find out how to improve the standard of his or her own work should pay close attention to:

  • the connection between a unit’s outcomes, its teaching and learning experiences, its content and materials and the criteria for specific assessment tasks;
  • individual teacher or peer feedback on previous work in similar units or within the same unit;
  • general feedback and advice given by teachers and peers about how to improve;
  • asking peers (especially trusted and well-informed peers) to read through drafts and to provide feedback against the relevant criteria;
  • critically evaluating other students’ drafts or sample drafts – sometimes when provided for discussion in class or online;
  • actively evaluating his or her own work in an ongoing way, and developing skills and knowledge by practising all the above.