Manual of Policies and Procedures

C/5.1 Assessment

Contact Officer

Dean of Studies, Learning and Teaching Unit

Approval Date

20/09/2013

Approval Authority

University Academic Board

Date of Next Review

01/06/2016

5.1.1 Policy principles
5.1.2 Policy outcomes
5.1.3 Designing assessment for learning
5.1.4 Assessment patterns
5.1.5 Criteria and standards
5.1.6 Communication and feedback to students
5.1.7 Review and moderation of assessment
5.1.8 Protocols for assessment
Related Documents
Modification History

5.1.1 Policy principles

Assessment practices at QUT are designed to contribute to high quality learning by students and underpin the development, delivery and quality assurance of courses, and are based on the following principles:

  1. Assessment as a central feature of the curriculum is valued as a strategy to engage students in learning that is productive
  2. Assessment cohesively links the learning outcomes, content, and learning and teaching approaches at the unit and course levels
  3. Assessment is an integral part of the whole of course design and gives particular attention to the needs of first year students and capstone units
  4. Assessment provides valid evidence of achievement by students of course and unit learning outcomes, including graduate capabilities
  5. Assessment approaches are consistent with QUT's approach to real world learning and teaching and include a variety of assessment items and feedback strategies
  6. Assessment reflects rigorous academic standards associated with the discipline and is based on pre-determined and clearly articulated criteria, associated standards and weightings
  7. Assessment is fair, equitable and inclusive and clearly communicated to students
  8. Assessment patterns provide progressive, timely and meaningful feedback to students and staff through both formative and summative elements
  9. Assessment approaches ensure that reliable and consistent judgments are made about a student's performance and that academic integrity is integral  and educatively promoted
  10. Assessment is moderated and reviewed as part of academic quality assurance processes to facilitate effective learning and maximise efficiency for students and staff.

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5.1.2 Policy outcomes

The policy for assessment is designed to

  • clearly and succinctly articulate QUT’s assessment principles and practices to students, staff and external stakeholders
  • provide a robust framework to develop, implement and evaluate assessment practices, procedures, protocols, resources and tasks consistent with the Higher Education Threshold Standards
  • facilitate consistent application of assessment standards and practices
  • promote exemplary student behaviour and practice in the application of and provision for academic integrity
  • encourage innovation and experimentation in assessment of student learning
  • address issues of equity and fairness.

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5.1.3 Designing assessment for learning

Assessment is an integral part of the curriculum design for any course or unit (C/4.2). Both unit and course coordinators have a responsibility to ensure that the choice of learning activities and associated assessment items are clearly informed by the desired learning outcomes and are consistent with whole of course design.

At the course level, course coordinators are responsible for ensuring that assessment design and practice:

  • assists students to achieve and provide evidence of achieving the course learning outcomes
  • addresses the unit and course learning outcomes, challenges students to deeper learning, and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate their full capabilities
  • is sequenced to allow students to progressively and realistically build and monitor their capabilities.

At the unit level, unit coordinators are responsible for ensuring that assessment design and practice

  • is relevant to life and professional contexts consistent with QUT's real-world approach to learning and teaching (C/4.2)
  • is efficient in terms of both student and staff workload in relation to the value of the task
  • is effective to provide clear, relevant, valid and reliable evidence of the learning outcomes desired from the unit
  • provides a reasonable spread of assessment items throughout the teaching period so that timely feedback can be provided to assist students to achieve the unit and course learning outcomes
  • is inclusive to promote equal opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to excel.

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5.1.4 Assessment patterns

(a) QUT has established a set of typical assessment patterns (number, types and weights of assessment items) to support good practice principles (C/5.1.1) consistent with the design specifications outlined in C/5.1.3. These assessment patterns apply to all courses and units unless an exception has been approved as part of the curriculum development and approval process or by a delegated authority (C/4.1). Exceptions to the typical assessment patterns are determined by a clear academic rationale which may include innovative pedagogical practices, satisfying prescribed professional accreditation requirements or supporting substantive discipline requirements. Exceptions must be consistent with the principles of the assessment policy (C/5.1.1) and curriculum design policy (C/4.2), and must be clearly communicated to students (C/5.1.6a).

(b) Weightings for each item of assessment must be a whole percent in increments of 5% (eg 45%) and the weighting must not be expressed as a range (eg between 30% and 40%).

(c) Assessment items meet the following patterns, unless otherwise approved (C/5.1.4a):

  • the maximum weighting of an assessment item is 60% of the total summative assessment for the unit
  • the minimum weighting of an assessment item is 10% of the total summative assessment for the unit
  • the maximum weighting for examinations is 60% of the total summative assessment for the unit
  • the maximum weighting for the collective component of team work is 50% of the total summative assessment for the unit
  • two or three summative assessment items for a 12 credit point unit.

Note: Theses (C/5.1.3) are outside the scope of this policy.

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5.1.5 Criteria and standards

QUT has adopted a criterion-referenced approach to assessment where assessment is based on pre-determined and clearly articulated criteria and associated standards of knowledge, skills, competencies and/or capabilities.

Threshold assessment conditions that apply for a student to be eligible to receive a passing grade in a unit, such as the requirement to complete a specific assessment task or meaningfully attempt all assessment items, require a clear academic rationale based on pedagogical needs and/or discipline practices. The rationale and conditions must be consistent with the principles of the assessment policy (C/5.1.1) and be clearly specified in the unit outline (C/5.1.6) prior to the publication dates for units (C/4.5.4).

Course coordinators are responsible for ensuring a whole of course approach to assessment (C/5.1.3) including alignment of criteria and standards to unit and course learning outcomes.

Unit coordinators are responsible for

  • establishing valid criteria that are consistent with the assessment item and aligned to the relevant unit learning outcomes
  • establishing clear standards that are high but attainable and designed to motivate students and impact positively on their learning
  • communicating criteria and performance standards to students in a timely manner, before they commence the assessment item
  • assuring a shared and calibrated understanding of standards amongst the teaching team.

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5.1.6 Communication and feedback to students

(a) Notification of assessment requirements

The unit outline provides students with broad details of assessment items (the number, type, weight, indicative due date, and the unit learning outcomes to be achieved). Changes made to assessment requirements once the teaching period has commenced require agreement of all students taking the unit, endorsement from the course coordinator and head of school, and approval of the change to the unit outline through the usual faculty approval process (C/4.5 and C/4.1).

In the first week of the teaching period, unit coordinators provide students with additional assessment details which include specific due dates for all assessment items, guidance on the type and nature of the assessment items, further explication of the learning outcomes to be achieved in each assessment item, and the criteria that will be used to judge the assessment (C/4.5).

(b) Feedback to students

High quality feedback seeks to build sustainable graduates’ capability to critically review and judge work and to focus their learning. Feedback is available on all assessment items including those completed in the examination period and across a course, and should draw upon a range of strategies across a course such as self review, peer review, automated responses, mentors and comments by the teaching team. Feedback strategies are clearly indicated in unit materials and should include formative and summative assessment tasks.

Unit assessment items (formative and/or summative) are designed to facilitate the provision of feedback to students from an early stage in the unit such as prior to the teaching period census date (E/7.1.3),  to allow students to monitor their progress towards unit and course learning outcomes and determine where improvements can be made to enhance their learning.

Course coordinators are responsible for designing and reviewing feedback strategies across a course.

Unit coordinators are responsible for ensuring high quality and timely feedback is provided to students during the teaching period as an integral component of the learning process.

(c) Faculty policies

Faculties may choose to develop faculty-level policy on assessment to further define expectations relevant to professional accreditation or disciplinary practices or clarify normal operational parameters. Faculty polices are consistent with the principles for assessment (C/5.1.1) and are subordinate to University policy. Faculty policies are approved by the Faculty Academic Board must be clearly communicated to students.

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5.1.7 Review and moderation of assessment

(a) Review of courses and units

Unit coordinators are responsible for the continuous improvement of the quality of the teaching and learning in their units (C/4.7), and course coordinators are responsible at the whole of course level for reviewing assessment and implementing improvements. Unit and course coordinators are expected to consider the following strategies for review

  • consideration of student results to provide feedback on whether the learning activities in the unit have allowed students to demonstrate achievement of the unit learning outcomes, and to identify common misunderstandings or gaps in student learning
  • moderation of assessment tasks, criteria and standards
  • consideration of the assessment practices to ensure fit with whole of course design
  • student feedback as part of the QUT Evaluation Framework  (C/4.7)
  • professional accreditation of the course
  • independent external consideration of assessment
  • benchmarking of criteria, standards and grades with comparable institutions.

(b) Moderation

Moderation approaches ensure consistent and appropriate assessment that meets relevant professional and statutory standards and contribute to the review and improvement of units and courses.

Consistency and objectivity of marking and grading are supported by well-designed assessment tasks, criteria and standards aligned to unit and course learning outcomes and supported by professional learning opportunities for unit and course teaching teams.  Assessment processes and grading rely on the professional judgement of the assessors. Professional judgements are calibrated through moderation approaches that involve colleagues and experts within and across institutions discussing, reviewing and comparing student work and the expected academic standards in consultation with professions where relevant.  For this reason, internal and external moderation strategies provide critical opportunities to assure validity and reliability of assessment practices including the awarding of grades.

Unit coordinators are responsible for internal moderation of their units (B/3.5.6) to ensure that marks and grades awarded between tutorial groups and by different teaching staff are internally consistent across locations, delivery approaches, cohorts, tutorial groups and different teaching staff, and comply with the QUT Grading Scale (C/5.2). Additional moderation arrangements are required by the relevant supervisor where the unit is coordinated by more than one person or entirely taught and assessed by one person.

Course coordinators are responsible for external moderation of assessment to assure academic standards of the course are appropriate, including outlining and reviewing moderation strategies used to support consistency and reliability of assessment and grading across a course, including consideration of differences in delivery approaches, locations, and/or student cohorts.

Faculty Academic Boards have responsibility for assuring the effectiveness of moderation strategies as part of curriculum approval, accreditation and review processes, including oversight of school and faculty examination committees.

5.1.8 Protocols for assessment

The University prescribes protocols for assessment consistent with the principles outlined in this policy. The purpose of these protocols is to clarify policy requirements and identify associated responsibilities and accountabilities. Assessment protocols are approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and are available on the Learning and Teaching Unit website.

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Related Documents

MOPP B/8.1 QUT Staff Code of Conduct

MOPP C/4.1 Curriculum development, approval and accreditation

MOPP C/4.2 Curriculum design

MOPP C/4.4 Work integrated learning

MOPP C/4.5 Units

MOPP C/4.6 Course quality assurance

MOPP C/4.7 Evaluation of courses, units, teaching and student experience

MOPP C/5.2 QUT Grading System

MOPP C/5.3 Academic Integrity

MOPP E/2.1 Student Code of Conduct

MOPP E/6.1 Administration and timetabling of examinations

MOPP E/6.2 Conduct during examinations

MOPP E/6.3 Alternative arrangements for assessment

MOPP E/6.4 Supplementary assessment

MOPP E/6.5 Allocation and release of grades

MOPP E/6.6 Access to assessment results

MOPP E/6.7 Academic progress

MOPP E/6.8 Late assessment and extensions

MOPP E/9.1 Review of grades and academic rulings

Higher Education Threshold Standards

Protocols for Assessment

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Modification History

Date

Sections

Source

Details

20.09.13 All University Academic Board Periodic review – policy revised

19.02.11

All

Vice-Chancellor

Policy revised to include approved name change for Office of Teaching Quality to Learning and Teaching Unit and position title for Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching Quality) to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)

13.08.10

All

University Academic Board

Revised policy - minor editorial changes only

29.05.09

All

University Academic Board

Revised policy, effective from 01.01.10 for new courses and units, and from 01.01.11 for existing courses and units

14.11.08

All

University Academic Board

Policy renumbered to C/5.1 (formerly C/9.1)

11.03.05

C/5.1.11

University Academic Board

Revised to include new policy on assessment of workplace learning (C/5.1.11) � remaining sub-sections renumbered accordingly (endorsed by Teaching and Learning Committee 01.03.05)

19.03.04

C/5.1.13

University Academic Board

Revised policy to include a statement on eligibility to undertake assessment (endorsed by Academic Policy and Procedures Committee 12.03.04)

26.09.03

All

University Academic Board

New assessment policy (endorsed by Teaching and Learning Committee 09.09.03) - effective 01.01.2004

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