Some strategies for improving assessment and feedback


I attended a conference on assessment and feedback in Edinburgh in May 2016.  Here are a few learning points on assessment and feedback practice that you might find useful:

10 things I learnt at the SEDA Conference on Assessment and Feedback, Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh, 11-13 May 2016

  1. Assessment needs to be integrated into the learning process rather than just seen as a measure of learning at the end of a unit. This means making the tacit, explicit and shifting from a hidden curriculum (where students don’t know how their work is assessed) to a creative curriculum (where students develop assessment literacy and become partners in their own learning). With strong formative feedback cultures in art and design, we do this well.  If you want to find out more about assessment literacy, see work at ASKE in Oxford Brookes

  1. The NUS have developed a series of benchmark toolkits around the NSS – the one on assessment and feedback is a good diagnostic for course teams.


  1. We are often working with digitally savvy graduates shaping entrepreneurial activities. It is important for course teams to evaluate what is and isn’t effective and stop using assessment and feedback pedagogies that don’t work. For example, instead of getting annoyed that students don’t read feedback and say very little in tutorials, consider building in online opportunities for students to self-assess or interact with their feedback.


  1. CBI survey data suggests that employers are not necessarily looking for content knowledge of discipline – they need students who are good at team working, problem solving, communication and risk taking. In creative arts courses, we are particularly good at providing these experiences, so how might we make these experiences more explicit to our students?


  1. Research at the University of Edinburgh suggests students want a personalised experience; clarity in what is expected of them; accessible assessment criteria; and mixed modes of assessment within the module. This means that students ‘learning to learn’ has to be at the heart of the assessment experience.


  1. Do we need to work at providing more clarity and structure in assessment and feedback? If there is no clarity and structure, this might emerge as a complaint. Ian Pirie at University of Edinburgh suggests that art and design students in particular, do not like a blank canvas.


  1. In writing feedback, we might consider the idea of ‘feeding forward’, with an emphasis on what the student did well, followed by what they could do better.


  1. If we want to improve assessment and feedback scores, we need to work at enabling students to develop confidence in seeking help. It is not just about being available for students. Could LD Tutors help with this?


  1. Consider the idea of ‘mutually constructed feedback’ (Pirie and Cordiner, 2011) – with regular ‘drip feeding’ of self assessment – see


  1. Consider the use of online activities such as blogs to give students a voice and to develop confidence in their writing and critical judgement. At the University of Winchester, students had to write a weekly blog post and comment on each other’s posts. There is evidence to suggest this lead to greater communication, collaboration and digital scholarship in student skills and behaviours which resulted in greater ownership of their feedback experiences..


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2 Responses to Some strategies for improving assessment and feedback

  1. Sallyanne says:

    Some very good thoughts and questions that have made me think differently about some things – thanks Annamarie.


  2. Pingback: Addressing the attainment gap at UCA | UCA Creative Education Network

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