Assessment Policy FAQ’s (No. 2)

Several additional questions were raised following the publication of the Assessment Policy FAQ in And Gladly last month. Rod Lane (Department of Educational Studies) provides some answers to these questions below:

Q: Is it appropriate to view APA referencing as a competency criteria?   I do not see application of APA style as an all or none phenomenon as suggested. In addition, I would actually argue that it is a reasonably good proxy for some critical academic capacities. If appropriate APA referencing is viewed as a “competency criteria” then why wouldn’t “presentation” also be considered such?

A: I agree that neither consistency in referencing nor logical presentation/structure are binary in nature. The issue here is whether these skills demonstrate “deep and critical understanding” OR “substantial originality, insight or creativity” (the definition of an HD in the university grade descriptors).

Q: Are the university grade descriptors intended to be a complete, infallible set of standards and the ONLY factors that can be considered in developing a full range of marking criteria?

A: The grade descriptors are generic standards for reporting grades. They are not designed to addresses all possible unit learning outcomes but to define the key characteristics of performance at each grade level. Marking scales can include a range criteria aligned to learning outcomes in specific units, however final grading decisions for individual tasks need to be made with reference to the university grade descriptors.

Article prepared by Rod Lane (Department of Educational Studies)

2 thoughts on “Assessment Policy FAQ’s (No. 2)”

  1. To be honest Rod, I’ve struggled with this idea of assessments being incapable of resulting in HD grades since you and Pamela brought it up during the development process for the policy.

    The problem I have is that if you want to test content knowledge at some point, it is likely that such an assessment task might be held (from the perspective you’re espousing) not to yield the outcomes associated with then HD grade descriptor. I’m not sure how grading is to take place if, say, a CR is the highest possible grade. Also how do you deal with the implication that if the assessment in question has a sufficient weight it would mean that getting a HD overall in the unit could be practically impossible even if the student completes this assessment 100% correctly and performs at a high level in the others?

  2. Firstly, it is important to keep in mind that content-based questions can span the full range of cognitive demand from knowledge retrieval to analysis and synthesis.
    In a standards-based system, grades are awarded to students based on the level of performance they have achieved.  The performance descriptors for all assessment tasks need to align with the generic university Grade descriptors. If we want students to achieve an HD standard in our units we need to provide opportunities for them to demonstrate deep and critical understanding as well as originality, insight and creativity.
    A credit is defined as “evidence of learning that goes beyond replication of content knowledge or skills relevant to the learning outcomes” so a task that only requires students to replicate content knowledge should be graded as pass or fail.   
    It is important that students have access to the full range of grades without compromising alignment with the generic grade descriptors (Schedule 1 of the Assessment Policy). We can achieve this by ensuring that tasks focused exclusively on the retrieval of content knowledge are not heavily weighted. Likewise, if you have an assessment program with 2 or 3 tasks, each task should provide some opportunity for students to demonstrate deep/critical understanding and/or originality, insight and creativity

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