Annex E: Good practice guide to assessment design

Assessment practices should:

  • Promote the academic coherence of planned programmes of study. In designing courses it should be borne in mind that the mode of assessment, and the range of subject knowledge assessed, have a significant impact on students’ learning and therefore their understanding of their subject.

  • Encourage students to develop higher order intellectual skills as they progress through their programme of study. Assessment practices should therefore focus on synthesis, critical evaluation and the application of knowledge to unfamiliar problems, and should avoid reliance on testing of factual recall.

  • Promote the integration of different strands and topics within the subject of study. The process of revision for formal public examination encourages students to integrate separate elements of knowledge and promotes a deeper understanding of issues integral to the discipline. These benefits may, however, be lost if students are subject to excessive assessment or assessment focussed on factual recall.

  • Enable students to demonstrate their ability at the most mature stage of their understanding of the subject.

  • Test students’ ability to meet multiple academic demands, manage their time and prioritise their activities.

  • Allow tutors and students freedom to explore the subject and take intellectual risks free of excessive pressure of assessment.

The Oxford Learning Institute is able to provide advice on course design and development, including assessment.