Question 3: Are the steps identified aligned with other key factors?

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With the breakdown of the assessment task, it is important to reflect and consider if the recommended steps are aligned with other key factors such as the marking criteria, the module and course learning outcomes and the FHEQ level.


The following checklist (also available within the PDF template) can be used to confirm the suitability of the steps identified for the assessment task:

1. Are the steps selected relevant to the marking criteria? Are there any steps that need to be added, altered or removed?

Example 1: Let’s assume that an assessment task requires students to develop a website. A step could be added in the breakdown of the assessment task to work on the appearance and graphics of the website, and for this step, 1 hour has been allocated. When comparing the steps with the marking criteria, it becomes evident that the marking criteria do not refer to the appearance/graphics of the website but only the content and the sources used. This observation will lead us to reconsider and reduce the notional time allocated on the appearance of the website and make this explicit to the students too.

Example 2: Let’s assume that an assessment task requires students to write a report supported by the literature. The break-down of the assessment tasks includes several steps such as literature search, writing the report, and proof-reading. When comparing the steps with the marking criteria, we could see that 10% is given for an accurate reference list. By doing this comparison, we can see that an additional step needs to be added [producing and checking the reference list] to reflect the marking criteria.

2. Are the students equipped to complete those steps? If not, are there sufficient support mechanisms in place if students need help with any of the steps?

This can go beyond the assumed pre-existing knowledge and skills, as new skills could be introduced as well. Therefore, further consideration needs to be given as to how the students are being supported throughout the preparation for the assessment task.

3. Is this assessment task clearly aligned in terms of skills and knowledge development with prior or future assessment tasks?

4. Does the allocated amount of time align with the expected assessment credits?

If not, can we make the appropriate changes?

5. Are the identified sub-steps relevant to the module and course learning outcomes?

6. Are the assessment demands and sub-steps aligned with the level that the students are at during their course?

Example: an essay as an assessment task at Level 4 and at Level 7 would have completely different expectations on both the breadth and depth of coverage. However, if the same assessment credits have been allocated to both tasks, a similar notional time on task is expected. The demands of the assessment for a Level 7 student would be higher and aligned with the relevant FHEQ level descriptors which include “a systematic understanding of knowledge”, as opposed to “Knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles” for Level 4.

Establishing the expectations on the level and requirements for the assessment task could be introduced within relevant assessment rubrics which can be used both by staff and students to facilitate a dialogue on expectations both on output and time for engagement with the task.  Once again, the importance of a transparent assessment strategy that interlinks different assessment tasks and support the development of both the knowledge and the skills of students is evident.