Assessment-and-feedb.. - University of Bradford

Faculty of Health Studies
University of Bradford
Assessment and Feedback – Policy and Practice
This paper aims to present an overview of assessment principles and processes as a guide
to staff in all curriculum development and planning activities. The aim is to improve our
student experience by increasing their engagement and empowerment within assessment
and feedback processes and ensuring that those processes reflect the diverse nature of our
students and provide equitable opportunities for all.
This assessment and feedback policy is firmly based in, and informed by, the academic
literature that is widely available. Links to key documents are provided and further reading is
recommended. The REAP [Re-engineering Assessment Practices] project has informed the
basis of this paper. Subsequently, there is a stronger focus on how assessment might be
used to develop in students the skills and attitudes for critical thinking and independent and
lifelong learning than on the technicalities and issues surrounding the marking and grading
of student performance. As David Nichol, the leader of that project asserts
‘Assessment and feedback practices should be designed to enable students to
become self-regulated learners, able to monitor and evaluate the quality and impact
of their own work and that of others.’ (Nicol, 2010)
The JISC project ‘Effective Assessment in a Digital Age; A guide to technology-enhanced
assessment and feedback’, has also influenced this paper and whilst technology clearly
offers new opportunities, the fundamental principles are not overlooked in that document or
“Effective assessment and feedback can be defined as practice that equips
learners to study and perform to their best advantage in the complex disciplinary
fields of their choice, and to progress with confidence and skill as lifelong learners,
without adding to the assessment burden on academic staff” (JISC 2010).
There will be a number of key principles outlined in this document as a guide to practice.
Primarily, however, it is worth noting that whilst we often think of feedback as something that
the teacher provides, for students to become independent lifelong learners they have to
become better at judging their own work (Nicol 2010). Enabling our students to develop
these skills is a fundamental aim of this paper. Students do not learn by listening to
transmitted information, but by actively constructing their own understanding of that
information and making meaning from it. When a student receives feedback, they first have
to ‘decode it,’ they then have to internalise it and then use that information to make a
judgement about their own work. Nicol (2010) argues that as these are all acts of selfevaluation, we should spend more time designing environments that help improve learners’
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ability to make their own evaluative judgements about the quality and impact of their work,
rather than trying to improve the quality of staff feedback. He further asserts that giving
feedback is cognitively more demanding than receiving feedback and that getting students to
review each other’s work and provide feedback on it, can accelerate learning.
It is also worth noting the contributions of Race, Brown and Smith, (2005) in the assessment
and feedback literature, who remind us that:
‘Nothing that we do to, or for, our students is more important than our assessment of
their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment
influence our students for the rest of their lives and careers – fine if we get it right, but
unthinkable if we get it wrong.’
Designing effective assessment and feedback
Principles of Assessment
Nicol and McFarlane-Dick (2006) introduced seven principles of good feedback, which if
implemented should encourage learners to regulate their own learning – for example by
monitoring, evaluating, generating feedback on, and making judgements about, their work
(Table 1). These should underpin Faculty wide curriculum development.
Seven Principles of Good Feedback
1. Clarify what good performance is
2. Facilitate reflection and self-assessment in learning
3. Deliver high-quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct
4. Encourage teacher–learner and peer dialogue
5. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
6. Provide opportunities to act on feedback
7. Use feedback from learners to improve teaching
(Nicol and McFarlane-Dick 2006)
Table 1
The twelve formative assessment principles in Table 2 were developed through the REAP
project. They provide guidance for improving the quality of the learning experience of our
students by asking reflective questions. These should be addressed during all curriculum
development and planning activities.
The 12 REAP Principles of Formative Assessment and Feedback
Help to clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). To what extent do
learners on your course have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and
standards before, during and after an assessment task?
Encourage ‘time and effort’ on challenging learning tasks. To what extent do your
assessment tasks encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than
surface learning?
Deliver high-quality feedback information that helps learners to self-correct. What kind
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of teacher feedback do you provide, and in what ways does it help learners to selfassess and self-correct?
Provide opportunities to act on feedback (to close any gap between current and
desired performance). To what extent is feedback attended to and acted upon by
learners on your course and, if so, in what ways?
Ensure that summative assessment has a positive impact on learning. To what extent
are your summative and formative assessments aligned and supportive of the
development of valued qualities, skills and understanding?
Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer–peer and teacher–learner).
What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue (peer– peer and/or tutor–learner)
around assessment tasks on your course?
Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning. To what extent
are there formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment in
your course?
Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of assessments. To what
extent do learners have choices in the topics, methods, criteria, weighting and/or timing
of learning and assessment tasks on your course?
Involve learners in decision making about assessment policy and practice. To what
extent are learners on your course kept informed or engaged in consultations regarding
assessment policy decisions?
Support the development of learning groups and learning communities. To what extent
do your assessment and feedback processes help to encourage social bonding and
the development of learning communities?
Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem. To what extent do your
assessment and feedback processes enhance your learners’ motivation to learn and
be successful?
Provide information to teachers that can be used to help shape their teaching. To what
extent do your assessment and feedback processes inform and shape your teaching?
Table 2
Principles into Practice: balancing engagement and empowerment is a key design
 the design of all assessment tasks should enable learners to take ownership of their
 engagement requires that students understand the goals and criteria for the
 engagement also requires students to spend time on task and receive feedback from
academic staff
 empowerment requires that students have opportunities for self-assessment, peer
dialogue and peer feedback, and that they use feedback to improve subsequent
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Approaches to assessment
Decisions about assessment and feedback lie at the heart rather than at the periphery of the
curriculum design process. Student self-assessment, peer feedback and the active use of
teacher feedback should be an integral part of all our programmes.
More on assessment design is available at the following links:
Approaches to feedback
Teacher- Student feedback
Formative Feedback: The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to
provide ongoing feedback that can be used by staff to improve their teaching and by
students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:
help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need
help staff to recognize where students are struggling and address problems
Formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no
credit value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:
draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic
submit a small part of an assessment for early feedback, e.g. introduction and plan
TBL processes incorporate formative assessment
Summative Feedback: The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at
the end of a learning unit/module by comparing it against some standard or benchmark
(learning outcomes and marking criteria). Summative assessments are often high stakes,
which means that they have a high point/credit value. Examples of summative assessments
a final project
a written assignment
a midterm exam
a seminar presentation
Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or staff
use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent learning experiences.
Student Self-assessment
Student self-assessment is widely reported to offer numerous advantages to the learner. It is
a popular practice for empowering students and the advantages are claimed to incorporate
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increased dialogue between students and teachers and the development of skills that
encompass critical awareness and reflectivity. It is, potentially, a process that may enable
health care practitioners to be lifelong learners, equipped with the skills for autonomy in
learning and professional practice. As such it might be viewed as an essential element of the
curriculum (Dearnley & Meddings 2004).
Peer feedback
Peer feedback engages students actively in learning, it helps develop self-management and
judgement, strengthens the capacity for self-assessment, helps develop subject knowledge,
enables students to receive feedback more speedily, promotes social interaction. (Liu &
Carless 2006). For more information and guidance on implementing student peer review
follow this link
Faculty of Health Studies Feedback Policy
To implement with immediate effect:
It is the responsibility of Programme Leads to ensure that the meaning of feedback
and the student role in the process, is discussed with students early in each
semester – possibly in the context of receiving assignment feedback
It is the responsibility of each module leader to ensure that the specific assessment
criteria are clearly articulated to all students early in the module and again at the half
way point – these should be clearly presented in the Module Handbook
It is the responsibility of module leads to provide frequent opportunities throughout
the learning experience for students to receive peer review, staff-student feedback
and to engage in self-reflection on learning
For teams to consider
Programme teams should consider opportunities for renaming some teaching
sessions (e.g. tutorials) as feedback meetings
Programme teams should consider developing and using a Feedback Calendar
o The idea of the feedback calendar or diary is to provide the students with a
schedule in advance of all the different kinds of feedback they will receive in a
semester or over a unit of study. For further information go to:
To implement within all the new curricular
How do our students see their feedback? How do our students store their feedback?
The following strategies are to be evidenced in the curriculum review documentation for
all programmes:
All modules will enable students to take ownership of their learning for example
o Choice of assessment method
o Choice of assessment topic
o Choice of how best to achieve learning outcomes
o Setting personal goals
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Student self-assessment will be built into every aspect of assessment in a
meaningful way (see amended documents); for example
o Writing a short paragraph on what they have learned whilst undertaking
the assessment
o Receiving the SMOTs recording of a presentation or intervention and
writing a reflective review of their performance to be included in a portfolio
o Sharing self-assessment of seminars with peers and gaining further peer
o Completing the revised self-assessment document with their assignment
and receiving feedback on it.
All modules to provide an opportunity for formative feedback; for example by:
o Student peer review
o Electronic voting systems, which provide dynamic feedback in class and
the stored data provides further information about responses that could be
o An opportunity to submit a short piece of work, normally of no more than
25% of the whole assessment, and to receive feedback from staff in any of
the following ways
 In written format
 By audio recording
 To individual or to the group
NB. It should be made to clear to students that if they receive formative
feedback in the form of staff comments, they cannot expect to receive
these on final versions (see amended documents).
o Organised feedback events during term-time where students bring work
and get feedback
o PBL/TBL processes
Learning outcomes to:
o Be written in a clear format, approved by students
o Be equal to the amount of credit available
o Have explicit links to the assessment strategy
Assessment criteria must be clearly documented in the module handbook and
explained to students in class
Action Plan
Review the current rubrics, how they are used by staff and viewed by students; Amend as
Review current SSA documentation and amend as appropriate
Create an online assessment and feedback resource for students and promotion material as
in the example from REAP
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*formative feedback should not be given on completed pieces of work
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Race, P. Brown, S. and Smith, B. (2005) 500 Tips on assessment: 2nd edition, London:
Dearnley C.A., Meddings F.S. (2007) Student self-assessment and its impact on learning – a
pilot study. Nurse Education Today. 27, 333-340
Gibbs G., Simpson C (2004-5) Conditions Under Which Assessment
Supports Students’ Learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Issue 1,
Liu, N. and Carless, D. (2006) Peer feedback: the learning element of peer assessment,
Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 279-290.
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