Before you launch into the design of your module’s assessment, have some discussion with other faculty in your programme/subject on what assessments students have done, are doing and what they are doing next. This helps to support the integration of your assessment(s) into students’ learning journey throughout the programme. Some other questions to consider are:
Designing online assessments: As a result of COVID 19, you may need to design more online assessments, listen to a related UCD webinar Designing Online Assessment (June 2020). This webinar is hosted on the HEAnet Media Hosting service, after clicking the link, you will be prompted to log in by selecting your institution and entering your UCD username and password.
The next step is to consider the expectations for learning in your module, i.e. your intended module learning outcomes. Your assessments should align with these outcomes. If not, you need to either adjust your assessment or revise your intended module outcomes (for more on writing learning outcomes go to the module design section). To assist in designing the level expected in your assessment, see Guide to Taxonomies of Learning which outlines some descriptions of levels, including associated verbs. These levels are often called taxonomies.
In designing assessment, you also need to think about what is the key purpose your module’s assessments. For example is it primarily ‘to demonstrate learning achievements at points in time’; ‘to get and give feedback’; and/or ‘to empower students to self-regulate their learning and critically evaluate their performance…’?
Consider how you can motivate students to engage in your assessment. Is the assessment authentic? In other words, does it appear to be of value to the students in their current and future life? (National Forum, 2017; Swaffield, 2011).
As assessment methods should align with your outcomes, then, for example, critical thinking outcomes should be supported by assessments that challenge students to demonstrate this, such as essays, debates, online discussion forums, etc. For more examples on alignment, see Matching Outcomes to Assessment Methods.
Students should experience a range of assessments across a programme. The examination is a useful assessment approach and it is still used widely in UCD and nationally (National Forum, 2016), but it does not suit all learners. Give some thought to whether there are other approaches you can use to assess student learning in your module, bearing in mind that too much assessment innovation can also be challenging for students. Here are some UCD T&L and National Forum resources on common assessment methods, i.e.
Group Work and Its Assessment; An Introduction to Effective Poster Design and Production The Use of Concept Maps for Assessment; The Design of Multiple Choice Questions for Assessment; Dissertations/Masters Dissertations; Work-Based Assessment; Authentic Assessment.
Inclusive Assessment and Feedback Case Studies Resource (Padden et al., 2019)
Some UCD case studies explore faculty’s experience of some of these in particular contexts are at the foot of this page.
Assessment should be inclusive and play to the strengths of diverse learners in your cohort. To be inclusive, you should try to engage learners in the assessment process. You should consider how they can be involved in any assessment decisions, such as:
For more ideas on ‘students-as-partners’ in assessment and feedback see National Forum, 2016b.
The Universal Design for Learning approach gives some useful advise on how to be inclusive in your assessments (see also Padden et al., 2019).
However, we often find it challenging to reduce assessment (see more on this debate see O’Neill, 2019)
The assessment should link with the expected student effort hours in the module. Larger modules should usually have proportionally higher student effort hours on assessment. Student workload can be impacted by the assessment weighting, number and size, as well as by other demands, i.e. number of parallel modules/module sizes. Small regular assignments are often popular with students but be wary that too many can be overwhelming and encourage surface learning, particularly they have many modules. This can also impact class attendance.
Somethings to ask yourself are:
Having designed and implemented your assessment, it is important that you can stand over the grading of your assessment.
For more on this see: How do I grade my assessment.