Sample this. Being assessment policy savvy.

With a new Assessment Policy coming into effect for session 2 at Macquarie University, there is a requirement for “students to have access to the standards expected and examples of relevant and related assessment tasks.” (5.1.3). This post offers some suggestions about how staff can meet this requirement.

Note that there are two requirements in the 5.1. 3 statement. The first  is related to “standards expected”. This should be addressed by providing a rubric that provides information about the standards and criteria by which the work will be assessed.

However, look more carefully at the second as it is new and offers scope for development. It reads “examples of relevant and related assessment tasks” and the requirement is not to provide an example of the current assessment task. It is to provide a relevant and related one.

For example, a research essay in session 1 that was marked using the same rubric (or a similar one) to the current research essay in session 2. Also, the wording does not specifically mention the actual piece of assessment (i.e. a student essay or piece of work), it says assessment task. This indicates that the provision of a essay outline rather than an actual essay would be appropriate.

If convenors elect to provide an actual piece of work, such as a student essay, there are few considerations. Firstly,  what level of student work should be provided (Pass or High Distinction) ? If only a Pass level assessment is provided is this setting the bar too low?Alternatively, if a High Distinction level assessment is provided will it discourage students who feel that they can’t reach such a high bar? 

There is no easy answer to this.  Convenors know their students best and must make the decision. This might suggest that good practice would be to  provide examples of both (i.e. Pass and High Distinction) and/or provide an outline of the assessment task. This provides scope and students can look at both.

To summarise, convenors are to provide with their assessments:

  1. The standards that are expected for it (rubric);

2.  An outline of a similar assessment task (note that it doesn’t have to be for the current task, just a similar one)


3. A sample piece of assessment (e.g. student essay or work).

Examples from the Arts faculty

What are some convenors doing to address this requirement in their unit in the Faculty of Arts?

Peter Keegan in AHIS331 provides a folder containing his rubric, an outline and a sample response for each different type of assessment task in his unit.

“sample assessment image 1” by ©2016
“sample assessment from AHIS331” by Peter Keegan ©2016

Rodrigo Acuna in INTS204  has included a Book activity which includes information about different assessment types together with rubrics for each assessment. Several others in International Studies do likewise.

“sample assessment image 1” by ©2016
“sample assessment from INTS204” by Rodrigo Acuna ©2016

Alex Woods in AHIS281 provides rubrics for all assessment tasks together with samples of work from students. This includes a  HD level essay from a different unit and a self-reflection submission from AHIS281.

“sample assessment image 1” by ©2016
“sample assessment from AHIS281” by Alex Woods ©2016

As these examples illustrate,  there are many different ways convenors can ensure that they provide students with information about assessment tasks in accordance with the policy.

The choice is up to convenors based on what they think would work best with their student cohort and what they have access to. It’s best to remember that the purpose of this part of the policy is to ensure  assessment is standards-based. This is achieved by providing students with information about their assessment tasks so they can embrace assessment principles.