Course Resource Kit

Assessment, Grading, and Workload

Non-graded assessments. Using practice exams where students answer similar questions as they will see in a graded assessment is good practice when the student is provided access to the correct answer, sample answer or grading rubric. In doing so, students are receiving feedback on their responses and the expectations of the instructor. 

The literature on peer assessments is growing. See Peer assessments (Reinholdtz, D. “Three Approaches to Focusing Peer Feedback.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12.2: 2018): Peer assessments can be useful for evaluating group work, but evaluation is a new skill for most students and must be carefully designed; specific questions and clear evaluative criteria are helpful, as is having students frame critique in the form of questions and providing opportunities to discuss both strengths and weaknesses.

In some cases using peer feedback as a formative step in the assessment is valuable input for each student because students share their draft report and share feedback on areas that may be confusing or strong. This type of peer assessment is positive in that each peer is helping to improve the others’ work before it is graded by the instructor. In this format, students are not grading each other formally, they are making suggestions to each other for improved performance.

Using peer feedback is a common requirement is online discussion forums. In these, students are expected to post and reply to other students’ posts. It is up to the instructor as to how formal these posts and responses are to be eg. referring to assigned reading or requiring additional research or opinion based.  

It is common to have students work in groups or teams to complete graded assessments.The question an instructor must answer in the grading process is whether all students automatically get the same grade or whether they should not. If not, one way to obtain objective feedback is to survey team members about the effectiveness of each of their team members. To do so, students must be asked to provide input confidentially and directly to the instructor. Students should be asked to only assess the teamwork skills of each member rather than the content of the project. These skills could include: attended all meetings, completed contribution onf time, provided useful feedback, etc. The instructor can then use this team member assessment combined with their assessment of the content to produce a unique grade for each team member. The weighting of member assessment and content should be stated explicitly in the assignment instructions. 

When students are provided with clear criteria, they tend to evaluate themselves reliably. Self-assessments can allow students to reflect on their own learning and progress, which also offers useful feedback about course design and efficacy.(Thawbieh, A. “A Comparison between Students’ Self-Assessment and Teachers’ Assessment.” Journal of Curriculum and Teaching 6.1: 2017. 

Rubrics are tables that provide information on how marks are awarded in an assessment. The table is comprised of a one column of criteria for assessment with other columns describing specially what marks are awarded in the criteria demonstrate different levels of proficiency. 

Rubrics are used when students are asked to submit unique information, essays or reports for the instructor to grade. A good rubric should provide the instructor with objective information on how to distribute marks such that they can answer the question from students “Why did I get a B- on this assignment?

 More information on rubrics can be found on the links below: 

  1. About rubrics
  2. Creating and using a rubric in Moodle

As mentioned previously, it is important for the instructor to create an assessment strategy for the course that values the work that students are required to do. For example, it takes less effort for a student to complete a module quiz than to research and write a report. It would therefore be unlikely that the two assessment would be weighted the same. 

Workload for students can also be a function of their familiarity of the task. It will likely take people longer to do a task the first time than the second or the fifth. Instructors can recognize this in assessment strategies by weighting first time assignments less than following assignments with the expectation that their feedback and repeating the process again will have a positive effect on the students’ workload.