Assessment tasks

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Scheduling assessment tasks   Designing assessment tasks     Assessment resources


Designing assessment tasks

Approaches to assessment:

  • Students’ approaches and attitudes to their learning are closely related to their perceptions of what they will be assessed on and how they will be assessed.
  • Start with what you want students to learn in the unit of study, and what abilities or knowledge will be assessed.
  • Consider how and when to assess each of the key knowledge and skill areas you want your students to learn.
  • Vary assessment tasks across the semester to help students stay motivated and interested, and from year to year to help prevent plagiarism and cheating.
  • Varying the form(s) of assessment (essay; multiple choice; presentation; unseen written exam; group work) also helps to tap the various strengths and reveal the learning needs of your group of students.
  • The University’s Business School provides an overview of assessment design, much of which is applicable across faculties.
  • The Arts Teaching and Learning Network Assessment Design site discusses ways of designing a variety of assessment tasks to provide a more balanced assessment of the diverse range of skills and abilities you are likely to find in your classes. You will need to use your unikey to log in to the site, which is accessible to all University staff.


Keep practical matters in mind:

Jigsaw people
  • Your department or faculty may have standard forms of assessment, such as end-of-semester exams, or restrictions on numbers of assessment tasks or word lengths. Check with your head of discipline/department.
  • Provide a clear guideline in your unit of study outline on the weighting and timing of each assessment task. See UoS outline.
  • You may also need to consider the form of assessment in terms of marking. For example, finding markers for 500 individual essays may be difficult.
  • Make sure assessments comply with your faculty and University standards and policies. See Assessment policies.

Assessment resources

  • The Principles of Assessment page from the Business School tabulates ways in which the University's Assessment Principles can be implemented. This resource could also be quite useful to coordinators in other faculties.
  • Assessing first year students, from the Learning and Teaching Centre at Macquarie University, discusses ways of assessing and supporting first year students, including a model for developmental assessment.
  • Core principles of assessment is compiled by Learning and Teaching at the UNSW.
  • The Assessment Futures site, developed by the University of Technology Sydney, has great resources on assessment, including a pdf of the ALTC report by David Boud and Associates (2010), Assessment 2020: Seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education.
  • In Assessment Standards: A Manifesto for Change, Margaret Price et. al. propose that students acquire graduate skills through teaching and learning experiences that offer them opportunities to become active assessors of their own and their peers’ work.
  • The University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education has a website on Assessing Learning in Australian Universities.
  • The University of Melbourne’s site also has a pdf resource dedicated to assessing large classes.

Scheduling assessment tasks

Assessment tasks
  1. Space assessable tasks throughout semester - this can enable you to pick up on students who aren’t performing well, and help them focus on improving their performance before their end-of-semester assessment.
  2. Consider introducing non-assessable tasks during semester so you can monitor your students’ progress and help them prepare for the exam, particularly if your faculty requires an end-of-semester exam, with a weighted emphasis (check with your head of discipline/department). Students are more likely to participate in non-assessable unit of study components if they can see clear benefits for their assessment tasks.
  3. The timing of your assessments is also important – if practicable, try to find out when other assessments are due in concurrent units of study so you can avoid your students having to submit multiple assessments in the same week. See also UoS alignment.