Reviewing assessment tasks
When should assessment tasks be reviewed?
There are a number of situations that should prompt a review of assessment tasks:
• when the task does not address the learning outcomes of the unit
• when the work produced by students is disappointing
• when the task appears to prompt inappropriate study patterns
• when students complain
• when students do much better or much worse than expected
• when plagiarism is detected
• when the task is decontextualised and students cannot appreciate why they are undertaking it
• when the task does not allow students to appropriately represent what they know or can do
• when feedback cannot be adequately provided
• when the demands of certification override those of learning
Taking the full context into account
The review of an assessment tasks involves more than simply reviewing the question or problem posed. It needs to consider the wider context in which students are operating.
Prior knowledge and experience
Did students have enough knowledge and experience to appropriately interpret what was required?
Teaching and learning activities
Did students have sufficient exposure and practice in the work before the assessment?
The assessment method involved
Did students understand what was required of them to prepare for the particular kind of task set for them?
Timing of task
Was there a conjunction of other work requirements that meant that students had an excessive load at the time?
Timing of feedback
Was the task set at a time that rendered the provision of feedback unhelpful?
Did students see the relevance of assessing this particular area at this particular stage of the course?
Prompting bad habits
Did the task trigger less conscientious students to ‘beat the system’ through the use of stereotyped requirements that could be easily copied or taken from the Internet?
There is no substitute to talking with students about their experience of assessment, though care must be taken in ensuring that a sufficiently diverse set of experiences is represented.
What criteria should an assessment task address?
See these checklists for good assessment tasks