Three interrelated elements are important to consider when clarifying what should be assessed
UCD Level Descriptors
The UCD Level Descriptors provide a useful reference when planning an assessment strategy for a full programme and designing assessments appropriate for different levels. They help students to understand what is expected of them.
There are five UCD levels, for UCD Level Descriptors see
These taxonomies help you plan the progression of learning for your students as you clarify what you are assessing at each level. There are different taxonomies relevant to different disciplines and professions for more information go to the Guide to Taxonomies of Learning Outcomes
The solo taxonomy is specifically designed for learning outcomes based curricula.
|Incompetent, nothing known about the area||Pre-structural|
|One relevant aspect is known||Uni-structural|
|Several relevant independent aspects are known||Multi-structural|
|Aspects of knowledge are integrated into a structure||Relational|
|Knowledge is generalised into a new domain||Extended Abstract|
These levels range from incompetence to expertise. For more on SOLO including a very effective visual see:
ATHERTON J S (2009) Learning and Teaching; SOLO taxonomy UK:
For example the solo taxonomy can be used to help to specify what is being assessed in essays.
What attributes do you want graduates of your programme to have developed to prepare them to move to employment or further study? How do you design your assessments around these key graduate attributes?
UCD Strategy for Education and Student Experience 2009-2013 p.4 states that:
As well as producing students with a high level of expertise in their own discipline, UCD will continue to foster students wider capacities, such as creativity and critical thinking, information communication and problem-solving skills, and teamwork, citizenship and leadership skills, that prepare them for lifelong learning, employment and active citizenship.
UCD’s policy on graduate attributes is at an early stage of development. It is worth looking at international universities work in this area. For example the University of Sydney has a policy, a framework of levels, faculty statements on graduate attributes and research publications.
The University of Sydney Graduate Attributes
Assessment of graduate attributes can be easily built in to existing modules to reflect the skills required. For example, if you wish your students to learn more about “information literacy” (the ability to find, use and evaluate information effectively), you can embed a task related to using key sources in your discipline and attach a learning outcome to your module descriptor asking the student for reflection on the task.