Assessment in Higher Education Online 2014

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Topic 3: What do students need to know about assignments?


Question:  What do students need to know about assignments?

So, you’ve designed a perfect assignment. Students will be able to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes. But how do you support that process? You may find it useful to think about how you would like to be supported as a learner on this course. What more do you need?  Do you think that we have we thought about all that you need, when planning the course?  (you can be honest 🙂 )

Task: Review the support associated with an assignment

Review the support already in place for an assignment you are familiar with. Is it appropriate? Would you change anything? You might want to think about things such as:

  • How often is the assignment mentioned during the teaching? Are links to the assignment explicitly made while content is being discussed?
  • Is there formative assessment to support the summative assignment? What form does it take? How are  students expected to use the feedback?  Is this a new type of assessment for the students?  If so, do they have opportunities to practise it beforehand with some feedback or peer review?  Are new types of technology involved for the students?  Again are there opportunities to practice?
  • Is there a place for peer review to support assignment development? What’s the line between collaboration and collusion?
  • If the students are working in groups, how is this process supported? What do they do if there is a problem? Do they know how their mark will be determined across the group?
  • Do students know how to get support from other people, such as librarians or academic skills support staff?
  • What is in place to support students with disabilities?
  • Do students know what to do if there is a problem?

Recommended resources:

Various authors (2012). A Marked Improvement: Transforming assessment in higher education. York, Higher Education Academy. factors do you need to consider when choosing an assignment task?

Here are the MMU expectations for an assignment brief – do share other examples

MMU CELT groupwork resource

MMU CELT resource on supporting students with disabilities.

Access to the following papers will depend on institutional subscriptions:

Crossman, J. M. and Kite, S. L. (2012). “Facilitating improved writing among students through directed peer review.” Active Learning in Higher Education 13(3): 219-229.

Joughin, G. (2007). “Student conceptions of oral presentations.” Studies in Higher Education 32(3): 323-336.

O’Donovan, B., et al. (2004). “Know what I mean? Enhancing student understanding of assessment standards and criteria.” Teaching in Higher Education 9(3): 325 – 335.





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