Making Assessment Clear

Make One Change


Making Assessment Clear

Importance of Theme “Making Assessment Clear”

The theme “Making Assessment Clear” is an important aspect of Assessment and Feedback as it outlines not only the actual assessment, but also what is required for it. What criteria are going to be used. The standard and level of work expected for each element. If students are not aware of where the goalposts are, it is very difficult for them to get the ball between them.


Dr Kasia Szpakowska posts her assessment rubrics on Blackboard well in advance of the assessment deadline, and ensures that all new assessments have a suitable rubric that corresponds to the assessment type. She uses self-assessment tools such as asking the students to suggest a grade for their piece of work and attach it to the assignment. She uses Web PA for peer assessment of group work. She also uses a draft element of a larger project, where detailed feedback is given on this small element, the student must utilise this feedback to inform the rest of the project. She finds that providing samples of good assignments is a valuable method of ensuring that students know what is expected of them.


Dr Chris Jobling uses lots of the same ideas with his students. He says that it is vital to provide a detailed assignment brief and a clear marking scheme for the students. He also uses rubrics, which he provides his students with, often as speadsheet, prior to the assignment hand in date. He likes to ask the students to use the marking criteria to indicate how confident they are about fulfilling each of the criteria in their completed assignments. This method also provides the marker with ideas for targeted feedback.


Dr Phil Race, Addressing Student Satisfaction – adopted from material published in Making Teaching Work by Phil Race and Ruth Pickford, London: Sage, 2007).

How to make the assessment criteria used clear ?

Publish the assessment criteria in student handbooks or on relevant websites.
Use your tone of voice, body language, and eye contact to bear upon the clarity of the marking criteria. For example, explain them in lectures, tutorials and seminars with students.
Give students a chance to apply marking criteria. For example, get them to mark some past work in a lecture before they do some similar coursework, or before they begin revision for related exam questions.
Get students to self-assess their own coursework using the same marking criteria as will be used for tutor assessment of their work. Then provide feedback on how well their self-assessment has worked in practice, and guidance about particular aspects that need to be re-examined.


The theme is also significant in relation to the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Academy Fellowship.

National Student Survey

The theme has been taken from the National Student Survey question “the criteria used in marking have been clear in advance” under the category of “Assessment and Feedback”.

In the recent 2014 NSS results 78% of students at Swansea University agreed that “the criteria used in the marking have been clear in advance”.

Higher Education Academy

The theme is also important in regards to the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) as “making assessment clear” contributes to Area of Activity A3 assess and give feedback to learners.

For more information on the UKPSF follow the link https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/professional-recognition/uk-professional-standards-framework-ukpsf

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