Acting on student feedback from the National Student Survey (NSS) results, the Business School commissioned a collaborative project with Student Connectors and faculty to simplify and standardise the assessment criteria across the School. Dr Farai Jena, Director of Teaching and Learning participated in the project, and as the new marking and assessment system launches at the start of autumn term, she explains what has changed and why.
National standards for assessment
Assessment is an important element of the educational provision of universities and provides students the opportunity to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes. Over the summer the Business School embarked on an exercise to develop consistent and transparent assessment criteria for use across all modules. Throughout the project student connectors worked closely with members of faculty and academic success advisors. The new assessment criteria were anchored to national standards for each level of study for quality assurance.
Addressing disparities in marking
The Student Connector project was important given disparities in marking criteria across different courses. While some modules have had very clear criteria, there have been some marked inconsistencies across other modules. This has left some students feeling disadvantaged and underinformed about how they assessments are marked. The project developed clear and consistent marking criteria for each level of study.
Our NSS results show that assessment and feedback is an area that needs improvement across all departments in the Business School, with students indicating marking criteria have not always been clear in advance. Student queries following the release of marks also suggest marking and assessment can be perceived as unfair and feedback on assessments inadequate or unhelpful. Developing the assessment criteria was in direct response to student responses regarding assessment and feedback.
In addition, it has sometimes been unclear for markers how much feedback to give to justify marks allocated. The assessment criteria were developed to make it easier for markers to provide feedback on assessments and reduce the amount of time spent providing feedback. Moreover, the Business School has several large modules where marking is undertaken by a team of markers. The assessment criteria will help to minimise variation in the marking and feedback provided by different markers, thus making marking fairer and more consistent.
Understanding the new assessment criteria
Faculty should familiarize themselves with the marking criteria and understand them in the context of the learning outcomes of their modules. The criteria is published on the module Canvas site and used in providing feedback for marked assessments. The assessment criteria enable convenors to set out and clarify performance expectations in a clear, relatable, and student-friendly language. This information should be provided in advance of an assessment task with students given ample time to ask the tutor any questions before starting an assignment. The criteria also provide a guide to help students prepare an assignment, a checklist, and a scoreboard against which they can match their work before submitting an assignment. Also, the criteria justify the grade students receive, providing evaluative, actionable feedback, and feed-forward about future improvement.
Watch a short animation about the new criteria created by our Student Connectors:
Benefits of the new criteria
We anticipate a number of benefits for both students and faculty as a result of the new system:
- More transparency in marking and consequently a reduction in student dissatisfaction concerning assessment and feedback.
- In consulting tutors and academic success advisors we expect students to be better informed about what questions to ask in preparing for their assessments.
- In understanding what is required of them and how to undertake it, we expect students to be less likely to engage in academic misconduct.
- Overall students to be better placed to self-identify ways in which they can develop and demonstrate their learning.
- A reduction in marking and feedback variation across different modules and between markers within the same module. This should in turn reduce queries by students following marks release.
- To make marking more efficient for you as faculty.
Overall, clear and transparent assessment criteria will enable faculty to produce more effective assessments and enhance the quality of marking and feedback on student work.