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Module Enhancement
Assessment Audit
Assessment Audit
Project: Assessment Audit
Project Team: Geraldine O'Neill, Aine Galvin, Amanda Gibney, Alan Keenan & Declan Patton
Collaborator(s): UCD Assessment Unit & UCD School Heads of Teaching and Learning


Part-funded by the Strategic Innovation Fund II


October 2008-June 2010
Assessment Audit

In 2008/2009, the Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning in the College of Life Sciences (previously Professor Alan Keenan, currently Dr Declan Patton) and Dr Geraldine O'Neill (UCD Teaching and Learning, UCD T&L) implemented a bottom-up and top-down approach to strategic assessment practices. This project engaged the School Heads of Teaching and Learning working closely with staff and students across a diversity of programmes to feed into the top-down university strategic plans. In 2009/2010, this process is being repeated by Dr Amanda Gibney (Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning) and her School Heads of Teaching and Learning in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences (EMPS).

Assessment Audit
  • To engage academic staff in identifying and improving assessment practices in their programmes
  • To feedback the results of these actions and discussions into University strategic planning.
Assessment Audit

Utilising and contextually adapting (with permission) an assessment audit tool designed by the Centre for Bioscience at the UK Higher Education Academy,  the UCD College of Life Sciences and the UCD College of EMPS School Heads of Teaching and Learning  implemented a developmental review of a sample of its current programmes (n=15 in total). The tool was used as a catalyst to initiate discussions with academic staff on their current assessment practices. These discussions identified levels of staff satisfaction in five key assessment areas:

1. Alignment of programme learning aims and teaching methods to the assessments used;

2. Marking criteria;

3. Feedback;

4. Assessment overload and

5. Evaluation of assessment at programme level.

The data gathered was nominal (not used for cross comparisons) and was used as an indicator of general and more specific areas that needed addressing. Using this tool as a catalyst for discussion, the teaching and learning representatives worked with staff to develop some action plans, in relation to student assessment, for each of the programmes. Therefore, these were actions that the academic staff believed were important to address. They also had to consider resources needed and to decide on time-lines for completion of these action plans. Fifty-five separate assessment related actions plans were developed across the programmes in the two Colleges.

For further details on the process and research into this project contact

Assessment Audit

Based on these action plans, the common issues of concern (such as formative assessment; evaluation of assessment at programme level) were explored by all involved with the assistance of UCD Teaching and Learning.  UCD T&L also worked with individual staff or schools on specific actions that identified the UCD T&L as a required resource. The teaching and learning representatives then initiated the work on the action plans many of which were to be achieved over the next academic year. The key themes emerging as issues from these action plans was then fed back, by the project coordinators, into the university‚Äôs central teaching and learning committees. This was the first step into incorporating the emerging issues, related to student assessment, into university policy, i.e. a more top-down approach. Initial feedback from the academic staff on this bottom-up approach was very positive. The process is still on-going in the College of EMPS.

In addition a result of this project: based on the themes emerging further advice (developed by UCD T&L) was made available for all UCD staff in the areas of Formative Assessment (and in Programme Evaluation.

Assessment Audit
Next Steps:

Further funding was applied for and obtained from the HEA to implement an inclusive assessment project .