Case studies of units of study that implement the University’s assessment principles


The following short case studies of units that implement the University’s assessment principles have been kindly provided by the unit coordinators involved, in consultation with ITL staff.

The case studies illustrate successful practices in assessment and feedback that support students’ learning. You can use these case studies to reflect on how you could renew your assessment in your own unit(s).

All the units of study scored over 85-90% agreement (agree plus strongly agree) on question five on the University’s Unit of Study Evaluation (USE) form: “The assessment in this unit of study allowed me to demonstrate what I had understood”. All units also scored over 80-90% agreement on question twelve ‘overall satisfaction’.

The majority of units have a USE response rate of 50% or over, and are mostly first or second year units with relatively large class sizes.

Please click on the links below to view the case studies (more coming soon):


Associate Professor Parisa Aslani – PHAR4812 Integrated Dispensing Practice

85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 200; response rate 57%].

This final year unit provides a simulated practice environment in which students learn to integrate the skills and knowledge that they have developed in dispensing and pharmacy practice from previous years and concurrent units. There are five types of assessment tasks: continuous assessment ‘prescription records’, a dispensing protocol and dose calculation assignment, mid semester exam, and final exam.

Parisa explains that students value the continuous assessment because they perceive that it is highly relevant to their future career as a practising pharmacist. The continuous assessment is authentic and involves students practising dispensing between three to five prescriptions every week. Students write what they need to do (on a prescription record form) in response to the standard steps in dispensing, e.g., they write about whether there are precautions and contraindications in dispensing a particular medicine to a patient. In the mid semester open book exam students complete two prescription records under exam conditions; and in the final open book exam they complete three records under exam conditions. The focus of the exams is on students’ quality of communication with the patient as well as providing the correctly labelled product. Students are also required to participate in two sessions in which they practise verbally counselling a patient with a pharmacist or tutor as the ‘patient’, and receive verbal feedback.

Parisa helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by discussing her expectations about the record forms and patient communication in lectures. She also explains the assessment tasks in the first lecture and tutorials. Students receive individual feedback on their prescription records as well as whole class feedback about their performance weekly via Blackboard and in a dedicated feedback lecture, and Parisa and the other two tutors in the unit are available to consult with students’ during tutorials on their individual feedback. Parisa also provides all students with a list of common errors made by past students in prescribing.

As Parisa comments:

“[Students] don’t get any new knowledge in this unit of study, it’s all about integration ... we say how the work that they’re doing in this unit of study relates back to [the] dispensing and counselling process and therefore where are the parts of that process that we’re assessing ... In effect what I also tell them is that you’ll be assessed on whether you are a competent or not a competent pharmacist”.

Workload: The feedback workload is high for the staff involved, and a practising Pharmacist is paid to mark the students’ weekly prescription records; approximately three out of five or six records are marked each week. The remaining unmarked records students include in their portfolio that is submitted at the end of semester for formative assessment.

Student USE comments included:

Assessment similar to normal dispensing practice”
“Practical basis very useful”
“Best responsiveness from Parisa of any UOS from the full 4 year course”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Parisa.


Dr Elise Baker – CSCD1034 Linguistics and Phonetics

Over 95% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 136; response rate 73%].

This core unit introduces students to phonology, orthography, morphology, semantics and grammar/syntax, drawing mainly from psycholinguistic and clinical approaches. There are three types of assessment tasks: tests (on phonemic transcription and grammatical analysis) (20% each), final exam (55%), and research participation (5%).

Elise explains that students value the assessment because from week one she highlights the alignment between the learning outcomes and assessment tasks, and how both are relevant to students’ future careers. The phonemic transcription and grammatical analysis tests are also barrier tasks – students fail the unit if they do not pass each one – so students see the importance of these assessments and take them seriously.

Elise also explains to students that they need to achieve a certain standard in both grammatical analysis and transcription. For example, with regards to transcription: in the first lecture she shows a video of a patient case in which she interviews the patient and at the same time transcribes their speech; this is similar to the standard that students need to achieve by the end of the unit.

Elise reassures students that they will be supported in their learning for the assessments. For example, she sets a mini formative test (the test doesn’t count) at the beginning of each lecture, in which students practise transcribing speech; tests increase in difficulty over the semester. She gives students the marking criteria and students mark each other’s work. Elise also collects up a random sample of tests at the end and in the next lecture gives students generic feedback on their learning.

As Elise comments:

“I think having a clear understanding and clear expectations with the students about what they’re going to be doing and what’s going to be expected of them and what I expect that they will achieve by the end is really helpful for the students.”

Workload: Elise has spent time refining her unit assessment, in particular based on feedback from international students about their learning experience. She sees the workload as manageable; preparing a mini test does not take too much time, and scanning and marking a sample of tests (30 minutes) and giving students generic feedback (5 minutes) helps to reduce the feedback workload overall.

Student USE comments included:

“The assessment and activities enabled me to demonstrate knowledge and skills learnt in class.”
“Assessments gave me an indication on how well I was studying throughout the semester.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Elise.


Associate Professor Adam Bridgeman – CHEM1612 Chemistry 1B (Pharmacy)

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 270; response rate 15%].

This unit provides students with the basis for understanding molecular structures and processes, essential knowledge for many later year Pharmacy units of study. There are three types of assessment tasks: continuous assessment quizzes, laboratory skill tests, and a final exam.

Adam explains that students value the assessment because they are given full information about the assessment, including an explanation of why they are being assessed on specific material. The assessments are closely aligned with students’ learning experiences in lectures, laboratory practicals and tutorials. Students perceive the relevance of the assessment to their Pharmacy degree.

In tutorials in week five, nine and twelve students complete short quizzes with similar questions that will be in their final exam. Prior to these quizzes students are provided with online practice (formative) quizzes on the same topic as the real quiz (but with a different style of problem question). In laboratory practicals, students are assessed on particular skills, e.g., using a balance, plotting data on a graph. Prior to the practical students are required to complete short quizzes on laboratory safety, experiment set-up etc., which allows demonstrators to focus on feedback and students’ skill development in class.

Adam helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the practice and real quizzes by providing explicit feedback that is automated through a software tool. Students receive an email on the same day that they complete the quiz with an explanation about how they are meeting, or not meeting, or exceeding the standard of correct answers expected: “if they’re doing worse … than they’ve done [before], the email points them towards more resources, but it also might suggest a remedial action that they should be taking at that point”. Tutors also discuss past exam papers with students in tutorials and explain that questions in the final exam range from those that address knowledge levels at a pass to a high distinction standard (the latter involves the ability to transfer understanding to a new area beyond the unit).

As Adam comments:

“We make it very, very clear [at] … every opportunity that what we are teaching them, and what we are assessing them [on], are absolutely relevant to them. We don’t teach them anything that’s not relevant to them. We don’t assess them on anything that’s just for the sake of it. We assess them on things that … they will need to know – or in the lab things they will need to be able to do”.

Workload: Adam believes his marking workload is manageable because the quizzes use multiple-choice questions. The practice quizzes are completed online while the real quizzes are completed using computer cards that are marked by a card reader: “So it takes perhaps for 270 students … half an hour [and] 20 minutes for the computer system to make those emails, to make the reports”. However Adam spends time at the beginning of semester to design questions and write feedback for the automated emails: “there is a lot of work associated with it”. The advantages are that Adam can reuse material between different units, and he is not locked into writing the feedback in the period immediately after students complete their assessment task.

Student USE comments included:

"Emails post quizzes was great feedback. Probably the only subject that provides good constructive feedback to students."
"Feedback from the quizzes and each assessment was so thorough, the emails with explanations and class performance comparison were great for giving me an idea of exactly where I was and what I needed to improve on."

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Adam.


Dr Jon Callow – EDUP1002 Literacy, Learning and Prof. Experience 1

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 140; response rate 67%].

This unit explores children’s language and literacy learning, and provides students with an introduction to professional experience in the primary classroom through exploring K-2 literacy development and teaching practice. There are three types of assessment tasks: seminar presentation (20%), essay (35%) and resource guide (45%) (plus 8 days professional experience).

Jon explains that students value the assessment because they receive explicit task criteria and instructions, and are provided with opportunities to receive feedback on their draft work. For example, for their group seminar presentation, groups are required to email their tutor a copy of their ‘lesson plan’ for their presentation one week beforehand; the tutor provides feedback on their plan. As Jon comments, “so the group presentations are always very well done generally and quite well planned”. Students perceive the essay as being relevant because it is about what K-2 teachers should know about literacy development. For their third assignment, which is divided into sections about multi-literacies, students create a guide for themselves as beginning teachers. To scaffold this final assignment, during tutorials in the last week of semester, students are required to work collaboratively with a peer to create a draft of their first paragraph in an individual blog; tutors can comment on students’ blogs. Students are also required to view a video that illustrates an aspect of children’s literacy and post comments about the video on their blog as part of their preparation for writing their final guide. For the final section of their guide they choose their own topic on spelling, reading, writing or English as a second language.

Jon helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by posting instructions and the marking guide for each task on the Blackboard site. For the group seminar presentation he also provides a sample ‘lesson’ or activity plan, and samples of parts of the essay and resource guide. Jon and his tutors also spend time in tutorials explaining how to reference appropriately etc.

As Jon comments:

So I guess the assessment ... was quite strongly scaffolded and quite explicit ... a group assignment [is] often the dread of universities because there’s often a perception that if you get someone who’s not as strong or someone who doesn’t pull their weight then that’s quite unfair in lots of ways ... group activities [in this unit] can be really positive because [students] do get to talk to other people and plan it.

Workload: Jon believes his assessment workload is manageable; it is good practice to provide explicit instructions for assessment tasks because it saves time in consulting individually with students about what is expected of them. For example, it takes tutors only 5 minutes to provide helpful suggestions on students’ group presentation ‘lesson plans’.

Student USE comments included:

“I found the assessments really helped me to develop a better understanding of what was taught throughout each week. They also definitely allowed me to personally express what I understood”
“Tutorials were laid out from the beginning. Everything that was expected of us was clear for assessments and practical experience”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Jon.


Dr Soryong Chae – CHNG2801 Conservation and Transport Processes

90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 68; response rate 51%].

This unit of study introduces students to the fundamental concepts in transport phenomena necessary for subsequent courses ranging from unit operations to reactor design and reaction kinetics. It builds on concepts from elementary physics and chemistry, as well as calculus and differential equations. The unit provides students with working knowledge of conservation of mass and energy, momentum, mass and energy transfer, and reaction engineering. There are three assessment tasks: quiz, group project report and presentation, and final exam. Soryong teaches this unit with Dr Jun Huang.

Soryong explains that students value the assessment because they enjoy doing the group project and presentation, and having the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to a realistic experiment in chemical engineering. Student groups (size 4-5) have access to industry standard equipment and instrumentation in the courtyard of the Chemical Engineering building to conduct their experiments. All groups perform an experiment on the same topic. As Soryong explains, the group project is ‘hands-on’ and students have the opportunity to test “how to use [their] knowledge in the real case”. A mid-semester quiz and a final exam are based on fundamental theoretical knowledge, which is explained in lectures, and underpins students’ experiments and projects.

Soryong helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the tasks by providing students with the marking guide for the project report, and an example of a good report (structured in the appropriate way) on the unit Blackboard site. Students are also provided with the Faculty grade descriptors. After the quiz and tutorials, Soryong also provides model answers for the quiz questions, so that students learn about the expected standards of accuracy. He writes individual feedback comments on students’ project reports, adding corrections and suggestions about how they can improve a section. Soryong and his tutors also take time in tutorials to give verbal feedback to each student on their quiz results, and to whole groups after their project presentation.

As Soryong comments:

“I don’t want them make another mistake when they proceed [to] the third year or fourth year. Second year [is] quite, a little bit earlier stage, so I just want to make sure [they] minimise [their] error[s]. If [they] learn this time, [they] can avoid this one next time”.

Workload: Soryong is concerned that the workload has increased because his class size has almost doubled. He has two tutors to help him teach tutorials and mark and give feedback on students’ work. The challenge for him is to keep student project groups at a manageable size (3-4 students) – so that all students have an opportunity to operate the instrumentation – while also scheduling and marking their projects within sufficient time.

Student USE comments included:

“We had great lectures, tutorials and group activities where we had to engage with other students”.
“The laboratory experiments were really helpful for me to understand the fundamental concepts”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Soryong.


Dr Jason Chan – ENGG1801 Engineering Computing

81% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 732; response rate 59%].

This unit introduces students to fundamental principles of computer programming. The programming language used is Matlab but the principles taught are readily portable to other languages like C and Java. Students are encouraged to draw connections between programming constructs and real engineering applications. The extensive Matlab library for visualization is also introduced, and students explore the use of Excel in engineering scenarios. There are four assessment tasks: laboratory exercises, laboratory exam, major project and final exam.

Jason explains that students value the assessment because it is practical and perceived by students to be relevant to their future careers. For example, in the laboratory exercises, students have to write a program to solve a problem, run it, debug it and fix it. As Jason comments, “it’s realistic [for them and] … they can see the relevance … [which] tends to motivate them more”. The exercises prepare students for their laboratory (lab) exam, which is run at computer terminals in normal class time in the weekly lab classes; students in classes scheduled at different times are set different programming problems. The lab exam is open book, which students also value. They can bring their course notes, data files, access the Blackboard website and use dictionaries etc. Students perceive the exam to be fair because Jason ensures that problems cover the variety of topics he presents in lectures during the semester. The final exam, which contains similar but more complex programming problems, is also open book although students are allowed only an A4 sheet of notes, which Jason says is all they ever need. The exam is paper-based, because the large student cohort cannot be accommodated at the exact same time during the exam period in computer labs. For their major project (run over a four week period) students write software to solve a realistic engineering problem. Examples of problems include creating a map of how a gas leak spreads in an enclosed space, and writing a program to control a robotic container-handling machine at a wharf site. Many student groups (around 50%) use video to produce a visualisation of their software solution.

Jason helps students to understand the criteria and standards for each task by providing explicit information about the assessment in the very first lecture (including the fact that the exams are open book). He believes that, particularly with a large class, “the first lecture is … probably the most important lecture of the entire semester”. He shows students image and video examples of previous cohort’s good quality work, so that students see that these are “the kind[s] of projects [they will] be able to do … so they understand, ‘This is a practical course … I can’t just memorise stuff, I actually have to think, I actually have to solve problems’”. Tutors also model the process of writing a program in weekly labs throughout semester by ‘thinking aloud’ as they write examples of programming solutions that appear on the screen in the room. Jason believes that this strategy “helps significantly in helping the students understand what standard is required of them”. Finally, students also receive ‘sample’ or model solutions to their lab exercises and tutors work through model solutions to the lab exam in class after these tasks have been completed.

As Jason comments:

“This is one thing I would like to emphasise about big courses … the lecturer can make … strategic choices, which dramatically cut down on the lecturer’s and the tutor’s workload … [for example] if you show [students] … sample solutions … the lecturer’s going to get very few questions [from students] about why [they] lost … marks. If you still [do] get [this] question, [then] the lecturer [can say] ‘just attend the lab next week and we will actually show you’ … So it saves me time while at the same time making a better quality course for the student”.

Workload: Jason believes that the workload is manageable, because students are provided with worked examples or solutions, which is a form of ‘feedback’, and receive brief written feedback on their work from tutors. As he comments, “with 800 students or more it’s not practical to write huge amounts of feedback … we go through the sample solutions [in class] which is obviously very qualitatively rich … feedback … combined with … written feedback, which is relatively short [and] that usually satisfies the students”.

Tips on teaching large classes: Jason recommends that colleagues …

  • Design assessment tasks that assess students’ achievement and also take relatively little time to mark
  • Reduce the number of student questions that teaching staff have to deal with by providing sample or model solutions
  • Make lectures interactive, so that students want to come to the lectures, and provide lecture recordings and copies of the lecture slides
  • Focus on helping students master basic skills at the beginning of semester, because then students feel confident and motivated to tackle more complex tasks, and require less support toward the end of semester

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Jason.


Associate Professor Alex Chaves – ANSC3101 Animal nutrition

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 78; response rate 92%].

This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the assessment of nutritional adequacy for animals and the avoidance and solving of nutritional problems, with a particular emphasis on animals used in agricultural production systems and wildlife. There are four types of assessment tasks: problem-based learning reports (x 5), group presentation, an online mid-term exam, and an online final exam.

Alex explains that students value the assessment because most of the assessment tasks occur within the first nine weeks of the course, and students are able to take a deeper approach to their learning. Alex no longer sets a long final exam with a large weighting, because at the end of semester students “are tired, exhausted and they have to memorise stuff in a short period of time and then after two weeks they forget everything about it”. Students also perceive the relevance of the problem-based learning (PBL) reports, in which they tackle animal nutrition scenarios, a different one each week for five weeks, and write a short report for each one on how to interpret scenario data and balance the animal’s diet. Students post their reports online and receive feedback in the following week. The reports prepare them for their presentation task in which they report on a balanced diet for an animal of their choice. In the final week of the unit, students complete a short online quiz (final exam) about balancing diets: “It’s the most important [learning outcome] of the course. [Whether] they know how to balance the diets … what’s the outcomes [are] if they do this, what’s the outcomes if they do that”.

Alex helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing clear guidelines in the unit handbook and explaining these guidelines in lectures. He also provides students with a copy of the rubric that he uses in Turnitin® for the PBL reports. For each group presentation, Alex also asks four students from other groups to peer review the presentation using his presentation rubric. He then calculates the final grade for each group based on his own judgement and the grading of the four students involved: “Usually my grade matches [theirs] 85 per cent [of the time]”.

As Alex comments:

“I changed [my assessments] quite a bit to improve every time. I change but always discuss with [the students]. Are you guys happy with those? … [a] final exam does not teach a student. [It] does not help with their learning. So that’s why I try to balance my assessments”.

Workload: Alex believes his workload is manageable; he uses Turnitin® mainly as a feedback tool (which allows him to also provide audio feedback) rather than as a plagiarism detection tool. He acknowledges that students often don’t check their feedback, particularly if they have received a high grade. Alex does not give verbal feedback during group presentations (but may ask questions to clarify parts of a topic), and provides written feedback using the presentation rubric.

Student USE comments included:

“Alex was extremely responsive to feedback, provided additional resources for us and made them very easy to access. Was very very helpful when asked for help and repeatedly offered assistance and solicited questions and feedback”.
“Alex explained quite clearly on a number of occasions the responsibilities of each of the student with the assessments”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Alex.


Lewis Cornwell – MCGY1009 Harmony and Analysis 2

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 153; response rate 65%].

This unit introduces students to more advanced concepts in harmony analysis that are encountered frequently in the tonal repertoire. These concepts include modulation, diatonic sequences and techniques for working with instrumental textures. There are two types of assessment tasks: short assignments (x 10) and a final exam.

Lewis explains that students value the assessment because it is continuous: students complete a short written assignment around harmony analysis each week and receive written feedback on their work the following week in tutorials. Students also perceive that the assignments are relevant and aligned with their learning experiences in lectures and tutorials. As Lewis comments, “they can see the direct connection there and they feel that [the] regular process of testing out what they know and getting feedback is extremely valuable for them in developing their skills”. There are three types of assignment: melody harmonisation, figured bass and score analysis, and each assignment builds on the previous one. To complement the continuous assessment Lewis allocates certain weeks in which no new material is introduced, for students to consolidate their learning.

Lewis helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing a simple generic marking guide in the unit of study outline. He also informs students of his expectation for high quality work that uses more challenging concepts of analysis or less conventional techniques. Lewis aims to adapt assignments to meet the wide range of ability levels in his student cohort: “it’s a matter of finding things for [students] to do that challenge the good people and [that] you know are [also] achievable for the weaker students”.

As Lewis comments:

“One of the crucial things really is that students need to trust you, and to believe that you are sincere about what you are doing, so students will really pick up very easily if you are just inventing work for them for the sake of giving them a mark at the end of semester. I think with Harmony they are quite confident that what they are doing is actually all part of a bigger picture which is all focused on helping them to build their skills. There is a kind of sincerity behind it which I think does make a difference”.

Workload: Lewis acknowledges that the marking and feedback workload is high: “if something goes wrong suddenly it all piles up. You have to be very organised”. There are five tutors in the unit, each with two tutorials of 20 students. Marking is factored into staff workloads. To help tutors with their marking workload, Lewis encourages them to give whole-class feedback for areas of improvement common for all students, and he provides structured tutorial materials to minimise tutors’ out-of-class preparation workload.

Student USE comments included:

“HW tasks every week allowed me to demonstrate my understanding, or become aware of problems immediately”
“The assignments were relevant and challenging”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Lewis.


Dr Eleanor Cowan – ANHS2602 Law, Disorder and Ideology in Rome

90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 108; response rate 28%].

In Ancient Rome crisis and emergency, whether genuine or the product of partisan rhetoric, could threaten the rule of law. This unit explores the idea that the collapse of the rule of law engendered the collapse of the Republic, whilst also seeking to promote stimulating and topical discussion about the rule of law in democratic societies like our own. There are three assessment tasks: essay (50%), exam (40%) and tutorial participation (10%).

Eleanor explains that students value the assessment – which involves ‘standard’ tasks – because firstly, she aims to reassure them that the assessment is to show them what they know (i.e., it has a focus on their learning); it “isn’t there to trick [students] or catch [them] out or test what [they] don’t know”. Secondly, she designs her assessment tasks to align with her intended learning outcomes, and what she wants students “to take out of the course”. Thirdly, Eleanor provides scaffolding for students around the assessment. For example she takes time in early lectures to explain her expectations for students’ work and their engagement with the unit (in addition to including information about this in the unit outline). For the essay task, she also allocates a whole lecture to a ‘workshop’ on essay writing, in collaboration with a colleague from the Writing Hub. She does this because she “want[s] to equip [students] with a set of tools to really put on display what they know”. In the first tutorial, she asks students to discuss what they think a tutorial is, and she explains her expectations for their engagement (participation) in tutorials: “It’s about acknowledging that the tutorial, the seminar, works if we can actually have a conversation with each other. If I don’t know and if other people don’t know what’s been read that week, we can’t have a conversation”. Eleanor also organises a tour of the Law library for students, to ensure that they have an opportunity to learn how to access readings and research material. Finally, in the lecture before the exam she reminds students what they have achieved, and allocates time for them to practice answering a ‘gobbet’ question similar to one in the exam.

In addition to making her expectations clear and scaffolding each assessment task, Eleanor helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the tasks by providing feedback that is usable, based on her marking guide: “I keep in my own head a sense of what the student would do with this feedback … and when would be the best time for them to get it back … I try and give [students] … some concrete thing that they can take from that piece of assessment into their next piece of assessment”. She also provides whole-class feedback on Blackboard by highlighting what students did well and not so well in the essay.

As Eleanor comments:

“In reflecting on [the essay-writing lecture], I really thought that … that was time well spent. It really was. I think … it’s great to keep recommending that students go to the Writing Hub and to explain to them what it’s there for and what it can offer them but, actually, giving [Writing Hub staff] the opportunity to come in [to my lecture] … just made it a bit more real [for the students]”.

Workload: Eleanor acknowledges that the workload is high, particularly because this unit was a new unit and involved considerable commitment to designing it from the start. She values Blackboard because it makes giving both individual and whole-class feedback more efficient. She also has the assistance of a tutor in running tutorials and marking essays.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Eleanor.


Associate Professor James Curran – HSTY2676 Australia and the World

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 83; response rate 53%].

This unit introduces students to the history of Australia’s engagement with the world in the twentieth century, and focuses on how sentimental attachments to Britain and America were preserved, and distinctive interests in the Asia-Pacific were maintained. There are three types of assessment tasks: historiography assignment, research essay and final exam.

James explains that students value the assessment because they perceive how the tasks integrate with material in lectures and tutorials; tasks are also authentic for the discipline. For example, in the first task, historiography assignment, students are required to analyse a debate on key themes between two leading foreign policy historians. This prepares students to tackle their research essay, in which they must compare the work of different historians on a topic theme and integrate their own research using primary sources. Students have a choice of topic themes, or they can negotiate their own topic. James reinforces the key message for students that the themes they work on in their assignments will also be the focus of questions in the final exam.

James helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by discussing his expectations with students in tutorials (e.g., that they should be looking for differences in debates amongst historians); he also focuses on helping students to solve any problems they might be having with sources or arguments. James may also distribute an exemplar of good student work from a previous year to illustrate the standards expected. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences essay marking guide is included in the unit outline.

As James comments:

“I see assessment ... very much as a progression: it is about giving the students the building blocks to try and engage more deeply with the subject matter, from the first assignment through the essay and then to the exam ... [there] is a rolling discussion throughout the semester on what makes a good argument and what makes good, solid history”.

Workload: James provides up to half a page of feedback comments on each student’s research essay, and acknowledges that this takes more time however it is personally rewarding and provides an important stimulus for his own research. He also makes himself available for student consultation. As James says, “what I ... hear from the students most in terms of what they crave [is] ... genuine engagement with their work that helps them reach for the next level, or [to] learn where they can improve”.

Student USE comments included:

[James] is understanding when it comes to assessments and he just knows what he is about ... Beyond anything he encourages students to learn

He wrote encouraging feedback on essays; and most of all, enforced the imperative of historical knowledge to confronting the present-day concerns of society!

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact James.


Associate Professor Ann Elias – CATE2004 Life, Art and the Everyday

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 64; response rate 95%].

This unit introduces students to how artists engage with the ebb and flow of daily life and the material conditions of the street, the city, and the home. There are three types of assessment tasks: research essay proposal, group presentation and research essay.

Ann explains that students value the assessment because they perceive that it is aligned clearly and coherently with the unit content and learning outcomes. For Ann assessment is a part of the course content. Before the first task is due she focuses on making the purposes of assessment clear to students, in particular to minimise students’ anxiety. She also discusses research on how students feel about assessment. Students begin their research for the research essay in their first assignment (500 words) by choosing an artist from a list and relating this artist’s work to a key concept in the unit. As Ann notes, “the same artists that I build into the assessment task are reflected in the [seminars] that I give”. Students receive feedback from Ann that they can use in writing their essay, in which they have to relate two more key concepts in the unit to artists of their choice. For the group presentation Ann provides students with an authentic reading (e.g., an original text), and students have to identify two key points from the reading and illustrate these points with lateral thinking using visual examples. As Ann comments, “that brings individuality into each group, so each group has a different personality. Then they enjoy each other’s presentations ... it’s exciting and they can [do things] in all sorts of creative ways and they sure do ... It’s quite wonderful”.

Ann helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by publishing criteria and standards in the unit outline, and taking students through each task ‘step-by-step’ so they are clear about what they have to do. She also gives students verbal feedback during discussion in the seminars in relation to key criteria.

As Ann comments:

“By the time [students] get to the end of their third assignment they’re – they know what they’re doing, they know why they’re doing it, they can see its relationship to course content. I’ve never had any anxiety [in students] ever since I’ve used a structure like this”.

Workload: Ann believes her marking workload is manageable. Her Faculty sets aside week seven free of classes for assessing students’ work and writing feedback. Ann uses track changes, and a range of standard and individualised comments for giving feedback on written assignments. She aims to provide students with feedback around one week after their assignment is due.

Student USE comments included:

"The assessment tasks were good as they allowed me to get feedback on my writing before final assessment at end of semester"
"I like having the [essays linked] as it makes the major assignment easier to accomplish"
"Due to the depth which everything is explained there is no question of what is expected"

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Ann.


Cathryn Forsyth – ORHL2006 Oral Health in Society 1

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 36; response rate 92%].

This unit provides students with basic skills in designing, implementing and managing oral health promotion projects with a focus on a healthy start to life. There is one major assessment task: a group project on an oral health promotion program targeting preschool-aged children.

Cathryn explains that students value the assessment because they receive explicit guidance about each task for the group project; clear information about project aims and objectives; and a description of the expected acceptable standard of a project. Students perceive that the project is achievable and see the relevance of it for their careers. The project is divided into several tasks and each task builds on the previous one. As Cathryn comments, “because it’s progressive I think it enables the students to see where it’s heading and they’re quite motivated”. Students start by writing a project initial proposal or ‘definition’ (including a work breakdown structure); they then produce a plan for their education program in the preschool (using their research on common oral conditions in children). Next students pilot their program in the preschool and write up a final industry-standard project plan, in which they take into account several processes including human resource management, cost, health and safety, and risk management. Student groups are assessed on their work for each task, and each student receives an individual mark that is moderated by confidential peer review in their group. As Cathryn comments, this is “so that the students [are] able to voice their opinion [on] whether there was equity in distribution of work … those [students] who really did do [a lot of] work and wanted to excel [are] rewarded”. For each task Cathryn provides annotated feedback comments that include suggestions about how students can improve their work in the next task, e.g., “with the first assessment [feedback] it’s just … have they got an idea of what they’re doing, and then [I give] them some tips, and they go back and do some more work and the next assessment builds on it”.

Cathryn helps students to understand the criteria and standards for each project task by providing explicit instructions and descriptions of expected standards in the unit outline. She also provides students with electronic copies of up to three exemplars of excellent final project plans from the previous year. She places all her lecture slides on the Blackboard site as well, so that students can see the alignment or consistency between her lectures and the assessment.

As Cathryn comments:

“The Australian Dental Council [has] acknowledged [the assessment] as best practice in Australasia … I think the reason is because it’s achievable [for students]; the actual projects are directly related to the graduate attributes that we want upon graduation. So from that point of view I think it’s a good mix in that the students can see that they will actually be able to use these skills upon graduation and that’s got to be a plus”.

Workload: Cathryn believes her marking workload is manageable with a cohort of 35 to 40.  It is an advantage to keep the project topic the same for all groups. As Cathryn comments, “certainly I’m thankful that’s it not as though every project that I look at and give feedback to is totally different; there are some similarities”. With experience in running the unit several times, she has built up a bank of feedback comments that give students “a good indication of how they’re going and where they need to improve”.

Student USE comments included:

“Good experience to develop a skill set in working within the community”
“Very satisfied excellent teaching methods and good time structure”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Cathryn.


Astrid Frotjold – NURS1008 Acute Care Nursing Practice

85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 73; response rate 74%].

This unit of study examines the integration of theoretical and clinical components of nursing knowledge to enable the provision of care to acutely ill patients. There are four types of assessment tasks: two reflective writing assignments, a PowerPoint presentation file, and final practical exam (objective structured clinical exam).

Astrid explains that students value the assessment because each task relates directly to a period of their study in lectures and tutorials and helps students connect theory with practice. For example, students are required to write a 300 word reflective assignment on their learning in simulation laboratory tutorials, and submit this online; students are also required to search for and select 2 evidence-based journal articles that relate to particular topics in their lectures and tutorials, and reflect on why they have chosen these articles. For the topics of surgery, preoperative care, and postoperative care Astrid asks students to create a PowerPoint presentation with evidence based notes which they submit online (but do not need to present because they are on their clinical practice placement for four weeks).

Students submit all their work to PebblePad, an eportfolio that is supported by Sydney eLearning. Astrid also uses PebblePad because she wants to encourage students to create a practice development portfolio, in which they can enter other reflective writing assignments during their clinical practice placements throughout their degree program. Students can also use their eportfolio for a year after graduation (for registration).

Astrid helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing her marking guide on the unit of study Blackboard site, and she discusses her expectations with students in tutorials. Astrid also shows students how to upload their work to PebblePad in tutorials in week 1 and offers an additional workshop prior to the first assignment submission.

As Astrid comments:

[the assignments] prepare them ... for their exams because they're actually working throughout the semester rather than just saying, ‘oh I've done that, I've done that tute ... I'll move onto the next one’; it's making them actually work, actually think about the content of the work ... [and] the students can upload [to PebblePad] in their own time”.

Workload: Astrid believes her marking workload is manageable; she uploads a copy of her marking guide with feedback into PebblePad for each student, and two tutors help with marking. She agrees she is marking more frequently however the workload is less for each assignment.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Astrid.


Dr Anne Honey – OCCP1096 Understanding Occupation-People-Context

90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 79; response rate 78%]

This unit introduces students to a client-centred approach and develops their skills and knowledge needed to collect and organise information from individuals’ perspectives about their engagement in occupations in various contexts. There are two assessment tasks: Video with written analyses (60%) and Case study report (30%), with a class participation component of 10%.

Anne explains that students value the assessment because it is authentic for students’ future professional practice, and aligns well with what they learn in lectures and tutorials. For example, in the first assignment students are required to develop an interview guide, and using this guide make a video of themselves interviewing a person (although not someone with a disability). They then have to write two parts of their report: one part reflecting on their interviewing skills, and one part analysing the findings from their interview using a theoretical model. Students study theoretical models in lectures, and participate in role plays of listening and interviewing skills and receive peer feedback on their skills in tutorials. They also receive peer and tutor feedback on their draft interview guide in a tutorial prior to conducting their interview.

Anne helps students to understand the assessment criteria and standards by handing out her marking guides for the assignments in a lecture, taking time to explain what she is looking for in students’ work; and providing feedforward about common mistakes for students to avoid based on their peers’ performance in the previous year. Recently Anne has also provided students with an opportunity to access assignments from the previous year, and in a lecture prior to their second assessment, she has engaged students in evaluating a typical distinction grade and a typical credit grade assignment using her marking guide, which she says “worked quite well”.

As Anne Comments:

“[Students] shouldn’t have any surprises or they should know what to do by the time they get to it... we’re trying to improve it each year and I think ... we’ve given them probably better guidance this year with that second assignment so hopefully we’ll see ... we try and get them the feedback from the first assignment before they have to do ... the second assignment”.

Workload: Anne sees the marking and feedback workload as manageable because the word length of the assignments are 1500 words, and so students have to be succinct. Immediate oral feedback is provided in tutorials. Markers do not usually watch students’ entire video interviews, and only watch for the components specified on the marking guide.

Student USE comments included:

“The assignments allowed me to use and practice my skills and knowledge of subject. Felt good after completing that I understood and was able to do those skills.”
“It was directly relatable to what we are studying and was putting into practice what we had learned.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • Assessment practices align with goals, context, learning activities and learning outcomes
  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Anne.


Dr Vanessa Hughes – NURS1005 Interruptions to Normal Physiology

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 80; response rate 76%].

This unit provides students with a contextual link between human physiology and alterations to physiological processes and pathophysiological phenomena encountered in patients in clinical settings. There are three types of assessment tasks: patient information brochure and accompanying professional information, case study assignment, and final exam.

Vanessa explains that students value the assessment in particular because they perceive the relevance of the first two pieces of work. In the patient information brochure students must explain a disease (symptoms, risk factors etc.) to a lay reader, and so they have to understand the content in order to pitch it an appropriate level. Students must also compose a letter to a new graduate nurse, explaining the information in the brochure using scientific language. The case study assignment is aligned with these tasks: students are provided with a patient case, and must apply their understanding and explain the underlying pathophysiology for the patient’s signs and symptoms.

Vanessa helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing an example of previous students’ work on a different topic; for example, for the patient brochure she shows students a ‘template’ and informs them that they can be as creative as they wish to be: “I got some brilliant brochures. They looked fabulous. They are things that I would have expected to pick up in a hospital”. She also provides students with her marking guides, and asks them to mark their own work using the guide before they submit their assignment: “[This meant] that the students ... had some skill at reviewing their own work”.

As Vanessa comments:

“I think that the students found that these sorts of assignments really ... helped them when they went out on clinical [practice rotations] ... Whereas I think traditional science assessments where you use multiple choice or short answer questions, they don’t develop ... the writing skills ... Being able to write at two different levels [helps students to] really grasp the knowledge”.

Workload: Vanessa believes her marking workload is manageable; she uses her marking guide to provide comments particularly about what students have done well and how they could improve their work to meet the next higher standard: “[Students] got quick feedback as well ... Especially because they did the self-assessment before they submitted the assignment, they kind of knew what they were going to get anyway”.

Student USE comments included:

“The assessment we did helped us develop valuable graduate attributes.”
“Assessments made sense and were enjoyable to do.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Vanessa.


Professor Ron Johnston – ENGG1061 Advanced Engineering 1A

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 48; response rate 73%].

This unit introduces advanced engineering students to the essential generic skills of communication, problem identification and solution, design, teamwork, and understanding of the social, cultural, global, and ethical and environment responsibilities of the professional engineer. There are several types of assessment tasks based around a problem-based learning project.

Ron explains that students value the assessment because students themselves are already very motivated (and the most high achieving students in their cohort), and the assessment project is based on a real-world problem situation. For example, in the year in question, students were challenged to design and develop an improvement in a village in Timor-Leste. Students work in teams and are given a brief of the situation in the village, which includes information about the state of water supply, energy and food production, education, communication, and transport. As Ron comments, “the crucial part of it, and this fits very much with my philosophy, [is that] good engineers solve problems, great engineers identify what are the problems that should be solved and then solve the problem … So [the students] select and have to justify their problems”. Students first write a report on issues of humanitarian engineering (which includes a literature search), and then each team produces a proposal for a solution to a problem. They give a presentation on their design and write a preliminary report. Teams then build a prototype and demonstrate that the prototype actually works, and produce a final report.

Ron helps students to understand the assessment criteria and standards by providing explicit criteria and standards for each task on the unit website. He gives students written feedback on their work one week after completion of their assignment, as well as briefing each team in class on how well they have done, and what they could have done better.

As Ron comments:

“Everything is cumulative [and] progressive and each assessment is designed to help primarily with the next learning task. So it’s not at all the idea of ‘now I have to assess whether you know this and test your knowledge on this’. [The assessment is not] in separate blocks, as it often is … we get … out of the ethos of assessment [for] accumulating marks and [it is] all about how do [students] perform well in the project”.

Workload: Ron acknowledges that the workload is high; he admits that giving feedback within a week “sometimes … takes quite an effort organise”. However he is able to devote the required amount of time “and gladly do it”. He also freely admits that the stage he has reached in his career “means that I probably find it much easier to devote the time that a younger academic (under pressure to publish huge numbers of papers and bring in grants) might not … make the judgement [to do so]”.

Student USE comments included:

“I not only learned the stuff which is specified for this unit of study, but also the basic skills of how to learn effectively”
“This subject [is] all [about] the reasons why I chose to study engineering”
“The project proved to stretch me greatly creatively. Prior to beginning this, I had never been involved in a project that required innovative thinking. The EWB challenge made you think outside of the box, whilst also aligning to practical considerations”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Ron.


Andrew Lavery – CAEL2009 Hot Glass Elective Introductory

100% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 18; response rate 89%].

This unit provides students with a studio-based introduction to concepts, methodologies and technologies integral to contemporary hot glass. There are four types of assessment tasks: technical skills tasks, a work proposal, and final creative work and gallery presentation.

Andrew explains that students value the technical skills assessment because they receive immediate and constructive feedback on their skills in the studio-based environment. Andrew demonstrates a process for the students, and then he observes the students performing the process and gives them selective feedback while they are performing it. When the process is finished he then reviews the students’ performance with them. As Andrew comments, “when [the students] have the [hot glass] object in their hand[s] the glass is moving, you can only take in so much information because you’re learning all these visual skills. So once they’ve finished then I’ll … say, ‘Well at this point it was this, this and this. But I just didn’t tell you then because you wouldn’t have heard it because you were so busy concentrating’”. Andrew also provides whole-class feedback on general areas of skill. After practice in developing their technical skills in the first six weeks of semester, students write a proposal with drawings for a contextualised artwork, based on their research on known artists’ work. In the final six weeks of semester students create their artwork. They present and self critique their finished work to peers and staff in a gallery environment.

Andrew helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing examples (images) of previous students’ work. Students also receive a copy of the College’s grade descriptors. Andrew outlines the ‘scale’ that students should be working to, and provides comprehensive feedback on their work proposal that guides students in achieving a realistic outcome for their artwork. As Andrew comments, “one thing I do with the feedback is, some of the students have a really ambitious idea and I have to make it real for them … I want them to [be able to] make it and [the experience is] far more enjoyable for them”.

As Andrew comments:

[The feedback is] like a tool, they use it, they check it all off you know, ‘have I done this’ and they like it …  if I don’t turn it around [within a week], they’re left floating. Then it won’t be a very good class for me. It’s more enjoyable when they’re motivated … I find that [the feedback is] a motivator. [The students] get in and they’ll work from week eight.

Workload: Andrew believes his feedback workload is manageable because of the size of his class, which is limited by the space in which he teaches. As Andrew comments, “[my] room’s … full of furnaces. It is intense. It’s hot and that’s my classroom. So if I was up around [20 students] it’s harder for me to get around to everyone. In that class I have three working stations and I just walk between each of them and I can manage it”.

Student USE comments included:

“My understanding is probably greater than shown, but my assessment still showed (demonstrated) great understanding.”
Andrew made it easy to feel inspired to learn more and create more.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Andrew.


Henry Leung – FINC6001 Intermediate Corporate Finance

85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 330; response rate 31%].

This unit provides students with a rigorous framework for the analysis and understanding of key aspects of corporate financial decision-making. Fundamental concepts in corporate finance are extended to more complex settings. The unit examines more advanced approaches to asset pricing and capital budgeting. There are four assessments: weekly online quizzes; practical exercises; and a mid semester and final exam.

Henry explains that students value the assessment because most are working full time and are motivated to learn, and the assessment is practical and related to their work contexts. Henry teaches one ‘stream’ in the unit and two of his colleagues each teach another stream. In the first assessment, students are required to complete 10 quizzes, which are worth one per cent each, over 10 weeks. Each quiz of 10 questions relates to the topic from the previous week; students have one week to complete the quiz, and can try it as many times as they wish. As Henry comments, “I highly recommend [it] because students are able to test themselves and reassure [themselves about the] concepts [that] they learn. Basically it’s a self-assessment tool … every week they have a deadline … and unlimited tries, that’s the main thing, so that they’re not fearing that they’ll lose marks”. In the three practical exercises students are required to solve industry-based problems. The mid semester exam consists of multiple-choice items that are similar in format to items in the quizzes. In the final exam, students have to answer four questions (at least one from each stream), and tackle similar types of realistic problems as in the practical exercises. As Henry comments, “of course [the problems are] not the same but … [students] have to think out[side] … the box [and] utilise the concepts they’ve learnt so … they appreciated that linkage between practical exercises and the final exam”.

Henry helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by discussing the unit outline with the class in week one; as he comments, “I think it’s worth spending that extra time at the beginning so they know exactly what’s coming up or expected of them”. Henry also uses the audience response tool Poll Everywhere to engage students in self assessing their performance for the mid semester exam: he asks students to (anonymously) predict their grade before the exam and then to (anonymously) report their grade after the exam, and shows the class the comparison of frequencies. He says that students “realise everyone is in the same boat as [them] … It’s a nice experiment to get the students to think”. Henry also provides students with his Turnitin® marking rubric, as well as a template, for the practical exercises.

As Henry comments:

“[Students] like the structure of the assignments and the feedback that the lecturers have used … they like how we combine theory into … the practical exercises and then the response that they get from the assessment structure”.

Workload: Henry believes his workload is manageable, in particular because of the support provided by technology in the form of the online quizzes and Turnitin®. Marking is also split between his colleagues. The textbook that Henry uses in the unit is supplied with a complementary bank of quiz questions, with model answers and feedback, which he can upload directly into the unit’s Blackboard site. Henry can also easily add his own questions and feedback. The functionality of Turnitin® allows Henry and his colleagues to mark the practical exercises online and ‘drag and drop’ feedback comments from a comment bank. Students receive their feedback quickly. As Henry comments, “the technology [helps] … that’s a conclusion I can definitely make. It does help in managing the workload”.

Student USE comments included:

“The weekly quiz helps me to keep pace with the lecture of every week.”
“The weekly online questions maintain myself to review every week.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Henry.


Associate Professor Clare McArthur – BIOL3006 Ecological Methods

100% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 35; response rate 80%].

This unit considers ecology as a quantitative, experimental and theoretical science. It provides students with the practical skills and philosophical background to explore questions and test hypotheses in the real world. There are three types of assessment tasks: group presentation, two written reports and a final exam.

As an example, Clare explains that students value the first written assessment because it is realistic. Students work in small groups to design an experiment in which they collect real data and answer an ecological question related to a real-world topic. Clare provides a choice of topics (e.g., water bird communities) for students, on the basis that they will have enough time to collect sufficient data for worthwhile statistical analysis. Students first present their question and plans for their experiment to the class, and receive feedback from their peers and from the academic leading that practical component. Students use this feedback in the next task, which is to run a pilot study followed by the main study. Data collection and analysis is carried out as a group, and the final report is written individually. In the end-of-semester exam, students are provided with a choice of real-world topics and questions in each section of the exam, and the exam questions are open-ended (e.g., “How would you design an experiment to answer these questions?”). The aim is to determine whether students can apply their knowledge and understanding of experimental design and analysis to new scenarios.

Clare helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing students with a summary of what makes a good report and a marking matrix. She also explains and shows examples of the types of questions that students can expect in the exam. After marking students’ work, with their permission Clare posts several examples of good work on the Blackboard site and ask students to check these against their own work, and in particular “contemplate what made a good report”.

As Clare comments:

I think [in] those different forms of assessment ... it’s [the students’] responsibility to get the information and interpret it, and ... I think being open-ended allows them to tell us how much they know, and how much they understand the topic”.

Workload: Clare gives students a copy of the marking matrix with ticks and writes feedback comments on their reports. She also provides whole-class feedback on what students did well and not so well. However in the future with a larger class size of around 100 students, giving written feedback on reports will be more difficult and she may need to involve casual tutors in marking.

Student USE comments included:

“The set out of the assessments [was] good & well spaced & timed”
“Fun assessment task that was creative but still demonstrated needed skills”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Clare.


Professor Sheelagh McCracken and Professor John Stumbles – LAWS 3484 Secured Transactions in Commercial Law

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 52; response rate 87%].

This unit examines how security may be taken over common forms of personal property through a detailed analysis of the new legislative regime established by the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth). The unit provides students with an overview of the historical and economic development of the law in this area, and explores the rationale for the comprehensive legislation as well as its underlying general principles. There are two assessments: a mid semester assignment (an analysis) and a two-hour final exam.

Sheelagh and John explain that students value the assessment because it mirrors how students are taught in class: students are provided with realistic problem scenarios (based on factual cases) in class and are encouraged to discuss arguments applying particular principles of law to the scenarios. The assignment and exam also provide students with realistic scenarios to which they have to apply principles of law. Sheelagh and John also modelled their thinking about scenarios in class; as they commented, “[although] one of us would take responsibility for [a] particular class … the other would be [in the class and] … there was a fair amount of banter backwards and forwards [between us] … saying, ‘well wait a minute, what about if’ - that kind of discussion. The students really seemed to like that … [and] it encouraged the students to ask the questions as well”. Overall, a key learning outcome in the unit is for students to be able to reason well, and so Sheelagh and John provide opportunities in class and the assessment tasks for students to identify facts, and analyse and test principles of law against different realistic scenarios.

John and Sheelagh help students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing grade descriptors. They also provide individual comments on students’ assignments, and general whole-class feedback through the use of Markers’ Comments about the range of possible approaches, which helps students prepare for their final exam. As John comments, “it was done in such a way as to identify the issue and identify the approaches taken to the problem[s]”. The final exam is similar in style to the assignment, and covers the entire unit and students’ study of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth). John and Sheelagh also provide feedback in class about the quality of students’ reasoning; as they commented, “We wanted a particular mode of legal reasoning … which we required them to articulate in class. We’d actually correct them as they went, not in an aggressive way … We’d actually just say … ‘there’s a weakness here, how are you going to deal with this particular weakness?’ [and] when they cover that, you say, ‘well okay, where does that take you, what’s the next step?’ So together we’d get really to the kind of arguments and the level of sophistication that we would expect”.

As Sheelagh and John comment:

“the interesting impact of the first assessment [was that] … suddenly there was an awakening … Once [students had] done the first assessment, they got more confident about it and they at last were understanding it. So it was a very useful exercise and valuable … things were beginning to come together and they could see the structure”.

Workload: Sheelagh and John are considering whether their marking workload is manageable, because of increasing student numbers in the courses they teach in. John makes notes about common issues as he marks the assignment, and prepares his whole-class feedback based on these notes once he finishes marking. He acknowledges that “it didn’t take me that long to prepare quite frankly, because it was all fresh in my mind, and also it was very useful for us because it revealed what perhaps we hadn’t explained clearly enough, or we should emphasise a bit more, and what [students] were not understanding”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Sheelagh or John.


Dr Alejandro Montoya – CHNG2802 Applied Maths for Chemical Engineers

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 67; response rate 54%]

This unit develops students’ skills in applying numerical methods (including mathematical software tools) and basic statistical analysis to a variety of real-life Chemical Engineering problems. There are three assessment tasks: Assignments; Quizzes; and Final (take home) Exam.

Alejandro sets clear learning outcomes at the beginning of the semester, and reinforces the outcomes throughout the semester (in lectures and tutorials). He explains that students value the assessment because all the tasks are linked directly to relevant learning outcomes. Each assessment task builds on the one before in complexity and difficulty. For example, in helping students learn numerical techniques to solve a set of equations, Alejandro introduces the theory in a lecture, followed by a tutorial where students are required to perform written calculations, and receive guidance from a tutor. In the Quiz, students have to apply their knowledge to a Chemical Engineering problem. In the final exam, which is a project that they take home, students need to use computer programs (e.g., MathLab) to solve a complex set of equations and find the solution for an industry related problem. Alejandro takes time to source engaging and realistic engineering problems by inviting Industry speakers in the middle of the semester (e.g., from Sydney Water and the CSRIO) to speak in class and provide examples of real problems to students.

Alejandro helps students to understand the assessment criteria and standards by providing individual feedback during tutorials and generic feedback to the entire class during lectures, so that students can monitor their progress continuously throughout the semester. After each assignment, he also discusses (for about 15 minutes) a model or best solution to the problem that he sets for the assignment, at the beginning of the next tutorial.

As Alejandro comments:

“The students like to know what they need to be competent in, in order to pass ... And if that is very clear, I think the students would know what they need to do ... I want to know how the students are progressing ... I like interacting with the students, I like finding problems that the students can do and I put some of my research also into the problems”.

Workload: Alejandro acknowledges that the workload in designing the assessment tasks and giving feedback in tutorials is high; however he has two tutors (postgraduate students) to help him in tutorials and marking the assessments.

Student USE comments included:

“Lecturer continually asking for feedback during semester”.
“Lecturer was very good with feedback”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • Assessment practices align with goals, context, learning activities and learning outcomes
  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Alejandro.


Dr Julie Mooney-Somers – QUAL5005 Introducing Qualitative Health Research

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 65; response rate 38%].

This unit provides students with an introduction to qualitative inquiry and methods in health. Students learn about interviewing, focus groups and observation; participate in a focus group; and conduct their own interview. Students also acquire skills in analysing their own interview data; and learn how to make arguments for qualitative research in health. There are two assessments (the unit is worth four credit points): a written reflection on an interview, and a review of a qualitative research article.

Julie explains that students value the assessment because in relation to the first task (reflecting on their experience of conducting an interview), they perceive interviewing as a key skill for qualitative researchers and so something they should learn: “So it makes sense for them that they’re being assessed on that particular thing”. The key learning outcome in the task is whether students understand what they should be able to do if they were conducting an interview well, rather than whether they can interview well. Most students begin the unit with little or no interviewing skills and so they perceive the task as being fair. In the second task, students write a review of a qualitative research article. They also see this task as being relevant and fair, because although most students will never conduct their own qualitative research, they need to be able to read and evaluate qualitative research literature. As Julie comments, “both of those assessments seem connected to the kinds of things students might be doing in the future. So they resonate better”.

Julie helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing opportunities in class for students to practice the assessment tasks. Students practice interviewing each other in pairs and then reflect on their experience in class, and they evaluate a qualitative research paper in groups in class, using a formalised quality framework. As Julie comments, “I think that’s really valuable because it means when they get to the point where they’re interviewing a neighbour or a work colleague for their assessment they kind of know how it might go. They’ve had the opportunity to practice it”. Students have opportunities to ask questions and receive guidance in class. Julie also provides students with her marking rubric, a model review of an article, and gives feedback using the rubric with added personalised comments.

As Julie comments:

“I think we’re all very aware of how much the students have to do and how burdened they are and they all have full time jobs … So [the challenge is] trying to come up with assessments that maybe are a little bit more efficient for everybody, for them and for us … [and assessment] that is valuable and resonates and makes sense for them and doesn’t feel to them like it’s just testing their knowledge”.

Workload: Julie is considering whether her marking workload is manageable, because of increasing student numbers in the course that she teaches in. She aims to allocate 30 minutes to reading students’ interview transcripts and marking their written reflections, and in the future will receive assistance with marking from casual tutors. Julie anticipates that it will be a challenge to sustain consistency across markers.

Student USE comments included:

“Doing interview is a good way to understand the unit. Critical appraisal is also a good way to make me think about what is a good Qual study”.
“The interview assessment was great practice and forced me to immediately reflect on what I had learnt”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Julie.


Dr Joel Negin – MIPH5135 Health Systems in Developing Countries

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 38; response rate 71%].

This unit introduces students to health systems in developing countries and aims to equip students with knowledge and skills to deal with public health challenges from a health systems perspective. There are three types of assessment tasks: literature review assignment (40%), class presentation and debates (10%), and a health system intervention proposal assignment (50%).

Joel explains that students value the assessment because they perceive the relevance, particularly of the second assignment (health system intervention proposal) in which students create an evidence-based, realistic solution for a public health challenge in a country that they are familiar with (usually their country of origin). This task is also well aligned with class instruction. In class Joel spends time leading discussion on potential solutions to examples of public health problems in students’ countries of origin or countries that they are interested in. As Joel comments, the second assignment requires students to “come [up] with [an intervention] that might actually make sense and … to think critically about how [they would] implement it and how [they] would … assess whether [their] intervention was effective”. Joel enjoys reading students’ intervention proposals, because “people come up with pretty creative things and they [go] … beyond the platitudes [of] a lot of academic essays [shall] we say”. The second assignment is also well aligned with the first assignment and the class presentation. In the first assignment students write a literature review on a particular public health problem in a developing country, and diagnose why there is a challenge. In their class presentation, students give a short presentation on an aspect of their country of origin’s health system. Students also engage in short, evidence-based (but light-hearted) class debates about potential solutions.

Joel helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks, in particular the second assignment, by discussing in class his expectations about the structure and quality of the assignment, including the types and quantity of literature sources. In class Joel also provides a ‘think aloud’ strategy of how he would structure an intervention proposal (a worked example) for an example public health problem (e.g., there are not enough doctors in Cambodia). He aims to provide students with feedback on their first assignment within two weeks, in which he clarifies his expectations for their second assignment. Joel also provides whole-class feedback (or a ‘debrief’) on the first assignment. Students also receive copies of his marking guides.

As Joel comments:

“The first [assignment] is quite short and … diagnosing a problem with a health system. Then that kind of sets [students] up [for] the second one, where sometimes they’ll [write on] the same topic, often not … I think [the second assignment] just takes their thinking to that next step and … I think overall they appreciate why it’s needed. I would like to think that’s why students … assess it positively because … they know that even though it’s difficult, it’s ultimately what they’re … going off to do in the next five or so years”.

Workload: Joel believes his marking workload is manageable although he acknowledges it is time-consuming; he returns his completed marking guide to students and writes individual comments on their assignments. Joel also coordinates another unit of study with a class size of about 50. As he comments, “people complain about marking a lot … but it’s part of my job”.

Student USE comments included:

“It was a good challenge when thinking not only about important health systems, but also how we solve those issues”.
“[Joel] … provides guidance, but still allows students to be creative and critical in their learning”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Joel.


Associate Professor Jacqueline Norris – VETS3040 Veterinary Microbiology

94% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 118; response rate 57%].

This unit uses clinical cases and research studies to introduce students to veterinary infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It moves away from the traditional microbiology courses seen in other veterinary degrees by helping students to prepare for the context in which they will encounter these infectious agents in the sick patient. It therefore aligns learning and assessment activities with clinical subjects and life as a veterinarian. There are three types of assessment tasks: a mid semester case-based theory examination (15%); the development of a visual learning resource to assist others in learning about veterinary infectious diseases (20%); and an end of semester case-based theory (45%) and practical examinations (20%).

Jacqui explains that students value the assessment because it is case-based, therefore allowing them to apply their understanding to authentic situations they might encounter as a veterinarian. The assessment is also well aligned with the scenario- or case-based learning activities used in lectures and practical classes. For example, the principles regarding canine parvoviruses are taught through a scenario about a puppy, recently acquired by its owner from a pet store, which presents to a veterinary clinic with vomiting and diarrhoea. For some principles, students are provided with a ‘flipped’ lecture online prior to the class, and they use this material to decide what they are going to do in terms of making a diagnosis, discussing the issues with the animal’s owner  and ensuring infection does not spread to others. The lecture time is used to discuss with students how principles are applied to particular cases, always placing students in the situation of deciding what is required. Students are given new cases in their theory exams and have to apply their understanding of the same principles. The mid semester theory exam is the same format as their final exam. As Jacqui comments, “the students are taught in the exact same way in which they’re assessed”. Students have no trouble seeing the relevance of the learning and assessment to their future careers (100% agree it is relevant).

In their second task, students have to create a visual learning resource that brings an infectious disease or the agent of disease that causes it to life for their peers. They can create drawings, objects, animations or videos, and are permitted to enlist the help of anyone to make their resource, so that, as Jacqui comments, “they don’t have to be a sound engineer or a video editor or an artist”. The focus of the assignment is “about transforming information about infectious diseases and making it kind of fun and memorable for themselves and others”. Students “love this assignment because it’s an opportunity … to use their science but actually with an enormous amount of creativity”. While students are required to address only one learning outcome in this assignment, with their fellow students written permission (at submission) the assignments are shared. Jacqui says, “They really enjoy watching and looking at each other’s work and they really engage with it, more so than any learning activity that we present”.

Jacqui helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessments by sharing the generic grade descriptors with students, and uploading an annotated (or ‘worked’) example of a mid semester exam to Blackboard. Generic whole-class feedback on students’ mid semester exam performance is provided in less then a week, and individual feedback to students within two weeks. For the learning resource assignment examples of previous students’ resources are uploaded to Blackboard, and discussed in lectures. The students are informed that if there are any factual errors in the content of their resource then they will not receive a grade higher than pass.

As Jacqui comments:

“[For the resource assignment] their target audience is themselves. So they realise that they have to pitch [it to peers] using the learning outcomes.  … they write … that, ‘I had to really understand my bug to do this assignment’. Then they just enjoy everybody else’s [resource]”.

Workload: Jacqui acknowledges her marking workload for the learning resource assignment is high. It can take her up to three weeks to mark the assignments, however she informs students of this at the beginning and they do not mind if their feedback is delayed. After the due date Jacqui also often shows students’ assignments in class, so they see the quality of their submitted peer’s work. A key advantage is that Jacqui learns from these assignments and can use them as a learning resource for this unit for future years: “I get something back out of it and it is the only assessment marking that I enjoy ... I never know what the next assignment is going to bring to life”.

Student USE comments included:

[The course was] “focused on relevant learning” [and] “relevance to my career was obvious”.
“Effectively helped guide and develop my diagnostic approach and helped me think about prevention and management”
[Regarding the visual learning resource assignment] “fun”, “amazing”, “learned a lot from other people’s assignments as much as my own”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Jacqui.


Floris Van Ogtrop – ENVX3002 Statistics in the Natural Sciences

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 48; response rate 81%].

This unit introduces students to a range of advanced statistical methods and enables students to apply this knowledge to analyse data that they may encounter in their future studies and careers. There are two types of assessment tasks: assignments (x 6) and a final (open-book) exam.

Floris explains that students value the assessment because the unit is divided into three four-week modules and within each four-week period students complete two assignments. Floris teaches the second four-week block, and two of his colleagues each teach the other four-week blocks. Each assignment involves the students in using statistical methods (in a software program called GenStat) and a set of authentic data to solve a real-world problem, e.g., the cause of a blue-green algae bloom in a reservoir. So students perceive the assessment as applied and relevant. Students are from a variety of science backgrounds, including Veterinary Science and Environmental Science, and as Floris comments, he and his colleagues “try [to] keep the problems in the realm of living things as much as possible … [and] to find practical problems in each of the areas of interest”. The assignments are evenly distributed and weighted across the semester. As Floris comments, “the other thing that’s important with the assessment is that it builds up. It goes from being more a revision of the second year … simple ANOVA … up to … linear mixed models and repeated measures analysis”. He provides feedback on students’ work that points out any incorrect analysis, and “give[s] [students] some options of what they could have done … to do a more thorough analysis”. In the final exam students are given a choice of two from three problems from each four-week period to solve; the problems vary in difficulty and are similar to the ones in their assignments.

Floris helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing a simple rubric on the quality of answers expected. Each teacher also works through examples of problems in their lectures, and in computer laboratory sessions they provide individual help. If there is an issue that all students are struggling with, then teachers work through the problem with the whole class. Students also value highly the help that they receive from tutors.

As Floris comments:

One of the keys to the success to this course [is that] … we’re like-minded, we discuss the course content. We think a lot about what we want to get out of the course. We’re always looking to try and improve it. We do that together as a team.

Workload: Floris believes his marking workload is manageable, particularly because the unit is split between three academics. He provides feedback through the Blackboard site. The workload in planning the course is also manageable because it’s a team approach, in which he and his colleagues discuss, in “a meeting or two before the semester starts … what were some of the issues we had? What are we going to do about it? Are we still happy with the curriculum that we’re teaching?”.

Student USE comments included:

“Good assessments”
“Pracs very good to help understanding”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Floris.


Dr Nicola Parsons – ENGL2611 Jane Austen, Then and Now

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had understood in their learning [class size = 104; response rate 86%]

This unit provides two contexts for studying Austen: first, the literary and cultural traditions that produced Austen as a Regency writer; and second, the interpretative traditions her work inaugurated in subsequent centuries. There are four types of assessment tasks: a research exercise, a research essay, and a take home exam, plus preparation for and participation in tutorial discussion.

Nicola explains that students value the assessment because it is ‘continuous’ or aligns with the lectures, which are based around critical inquiry and examples of genuine questions that students have to tackle in their assessment. For tutorials, students develop their own critical questions centred on Austen’s novels and workshop answers in class. In the research exercise, students choose a novel and identify an aspect with which they are most interested (e.g., sensibility as a cultural form; inheritance practices, etc). They research the approaches that professional scholars have developed, and assess these approaches through their own reading of the text. This research exercise prepares students for the essay, in which they integrate their research with their own reading of the entire novel. Nicola comments that as a result, the “essays [students] write are generally much more integrated and coherent and sophisticated than [the] normal approach students have”.

To help students understand the assessment criteria and standards, Nicola posts a copy of her rubric or marking guide for each assessment on the Blackboard site; she also refers to the rubrics in her lectures, and encourages students to ask questions about task criteria and standards in tutorials. Nicola also provides students with a good example of a research exercise, which serves as a model and as the basis of in-class discussion about the assignment. Her own and her tutors’ assessment task feedback includes comments that assess students’ performance (based on the rubric) and suggest “at least one concrete thing that [students] can focus on for the next task”.

As Nicola Comments:

“Highlighting the process of critical enquiry through lectures and tutorials really helps the students when they actually come to the assessment tasks themselves ... I specifically set out to teach them to read [the novels] differently; we focus on developing a familiarity with different modes of critical enquiry first ... it’s like I'm going through the wrong end of the telescope but it seems to work really well for the students”.

Workload: Although marking takes time, and there is other work involved, e.g., in seeking past students’ permission to use anonymous versions of their assignments, Nicola believes the workload is manageable. She also contributes to tutor training in assessment and feedback in her Faculty.

Student USE comments included:

“In particular, the assessments strongly encouraged in depth research and independent inquiry”
“I quite liked the ‘backwards’ structure of the assessments, and the way each assignment fully engaged with the concepts we had studied.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Professional development opportunities that are related to design, implementation and moderation of assessment are provided to staff

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Nicola.


Dr Louisa Peralta – EDUH1005 Professional Practice in PDHPE 1

Over 95% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 60; response rate 82%].

This unit provides students with an introduction to pedagogical, curriculum and professional practices in K-12 Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE). Students develop knowledge and skills to design and deliver appropriate teaching and learning experiences for a specific stage of learners, and the unit is linked to 16 days of professional experience in a primary school. There are three types of assessment tasks: microteaching observation and reflection, lesson plan, and professional experience portfolio and practicum (all pass/fail).

Louisa explains that students value the assessment because it is embedded in a series of professional experience placements in a local primary school, which students see as highly relevant to their careers. The assessments are also linked across the semester. Early in the semester, Louisa helps prepare students for their placements and assessments by modelling practice that the students then critically review using a standard proforma sheet. Students apply this proforma to their first two placements and discuss their experiences and receive feedback in tutorials back on campus. As Louisa comments, “[there is] time [for students] to ask questions and for us to [unpack] any issues or complexities that they’ve come across”. In their first assessment task students then use the same proforma to complete observations of two peers teaching an activity in the primary school placement, and write a reflective report on their own primary school ‘microteaching’ activity, e.g., teaching a particular fundamental movement skill to a group of kindergarten, year one or year two students. In the second task, students develop and implement a full lesson plan using the primary school microteaching activity as the framework and the K-6 PDHPE New South Wales syllabus. They use the feedback that they received in the first assessment and what they have learned from their observations and reflections to develop their lesson plan. In their final assessment, students resubmit an improved version of their lesson plan as part of their portfolio, using all the feedback that they receive from their university mentor, supervising school teacher and peers during their final placement. Their supervising school teacher also assesses students on their final placement teaching practice.

Louisa helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by modelling good practice (students experience her practice as ‘learners’). She also provides exemplars of past students’ observation forms, reflective reports and lesson plans on the unit of study Blackboard site. Recently she has also asked students to evaluate exemplars of a good and poor lesson plan, and spent time in a tutorial session discussing with students why the good plan was more desirable.

As Louisa comments:

“Assessment [two] is linked to and builds upon [assessment one] and allows [students] to be able to learn a new set of knowledge and skills with the lesson plan … Then, [in] assessment three, [students] work with others to get as much feedback as possible to improve their teaching practice … so again, that’s just another advancement on top of assessment number two, so [the assessments are] all highly linked together, which I guess the students appreciate … they can see how one informs the other

Workload: Louisa believes her marking workload is manageable because the assessment tasks are well scaffolded, and students use structured forms and templates, which they find helpful in their first year. She provides feedback within two weeks of students completing their task, and acknowledges that her cohort is not that large (at the most 100 students). Louisa has also established an excellent working relationship with teaching staff in the primary school, who understand the standards and criteria for the students’ assessment tasks.

Student USE comments included:

“The assessments linked to the microteaching experiences provided a really beneficial opportunity for me to demonstrate what I had learnt”.
“Assessment one allowed me to evaluate my own teaching experiences through different ways. Assessment two provided an effective structure for lesson planning and the last assessment allows us to build upon and improve our knowledge and skills”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Louisa.


Dr Anna Rangan – NTDT5503 Dietary Intake & Nutritional Assessment

91% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 50; response rate 88%].

This unit of study covers dietary assessment methods in the context of individual, group and population dietary data. It aims to address the practical aspects of the administration of dietary assessment methods, as well as validation, interpretation and critical appraisal of such methods. There are three assessment tasks: quiz (25%), assignment (25%), and a written exam (50%).

Anna explains that students value the assessment because the assessment tasks are based in professional practice and relevant to their future careers. In the quiz students answer 25 questions about four major dietary assessment methods, which they practice using in tutorials and in their own time during weeks 1-4. As Anna comments, “I think the students quite like doing the quiz early on because it’s a learning tool for them as well”. Following the quiz, in tutorials students practice entering the dietary data they have collected in the previous weeks into a nutrition analysis software program. Anna also makes time in lectures to guide students in appraising the quality of their data. In the assignment students are required to interpret the nutritional output from the program and compare this to recommended dietary intakes. Overall, the work they do in class and their own time is integrated with their assessments. In the final exam students answer short questions, some of which are scenario-based, and critically appraise a published example of dietary assessment methodology from the discipline literature.
Anna helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the tasks by providing information about how marks are awarded against criteria for the assignment and questions in the exam. She also reviews each quiz question in a lecture following the quiz, and discusses any queries that students may have about the best answers. Anna writes individual feedback comments on the assignment and gives whole-class feedback about what students did well and not so well.

As Anna comments:

“[Students] find [the assessment] very practical and they found it useful for dietitian knowledge and future work. They said it involved great thinking and application skills, so they liked that”.

Workload: Anna finds the quiz easy to manage because students answer using scannable sheets, the results are processed automatically, and she receives a report on which questions were answered well by all students etc. Her workload for the assignment is higher because there are several parts to collate (students’ written analysis and data records etc.), and Anna writes individual feedback comments on each assignment.

Student USE comments included:

“I think the dietary assessment assignment was a very practical way of applying what we have learnt and a good experience”
“Assessment expectations clearly explained and outlined. Interpretation of Dietary Data was a highly relevant assignment topic with practical application”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Anna.


Daniel Rojas – MUSC1503 Fundamentals of Music 1

Over 95% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 34; response rate 74%].

This unit provides students with an introduction to basic music literacy skills, including learning to read and write music, and an understanding of fundamental aspects of its structure and composition. There are two types of assessment tasks: aural assessment and written assignments.

Daniel explains that students value the assessment because it is continuous with a focus on both aural perception and theoretical concepts. Students regularly practice applying their skills. Daniel works hard at the beginning of the unit to establish rapport between himself and the students, and between students and their peers, so that they feel comfortable contributing interactively (e.g., by singing and discussing their insights) in class. Students complete an aural exam around mid semester, and weekly short skills tests using a software program called Auralia between weeks 9 and 13. For example, in one short test, they listen to two notes and then have to identify the interval between the notes using relevant technical language. Daniel gives students three attempts at each test, and records their best mark. As Daniel comments, “what’s funny is that … quite often, it’s the second [attempt that] they get the most marks out of. The first one, they’re working it out. They’re getting used to it. The second one, they’ve got it. The third one, they do it just in case”.

As well as weekly skills tests that prepare students for their aural exam, students also complete weekly conceptual tests or quizzes in Blackboard following their lectures. Students only have one attempt at these tests, which include factual and interpretative short answer questions. These tests prepare students for their three written assignments: the first assignment focuses on analysis of a composition; the second on creating a short composition; and the third on a formal composition in which students write music, as Daniel says, “in the style of other composers, using all [the] knowledge that they’ve learned”.

Daniel helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by clearly highlighting the criteria and standards in the unit outline at the beginning semester and throughout the course. He also provides students with short practice quizzes in class that they peer mark, and Daniel discusses the expected answers and provides feedback to the whole class. The questions in the practice quizzes are the same format as those in the exam, “so [students] know precisely what they’re going to expect and they know how to study for it”.

As Daniel comments:

We’re teaching them the spelling, so to speak, and the grammar [of music]. With some association to the usage – the beautiful usage of that and [the] great composers. But we are focused mostly in the technical side … I’m quite constantly reminding them of why I think these things are important, so drawing it back to what we’re aiming for … So that later on, [they] can see how [these things] work in the more important real life context [and] we … draw … that [knowledge] together with the beauty and the poetry of music.

Workload: Daniel acknowledges his workload is high. He manages the work by automating most of the tests using Auralia and Blackboard, and he receives some marking assistance for the written assignments. He also only writes comments and notations directly on students’ first written assignment, and provides a grade and an overall comment through the Blackboard assignment tool on the remaining two assignments.

Student USE comments included:

“This course has provided me with musical knowledge and skills that will be important for my future and has supported the development of my musical thinking.”
“Now that I have a better understanding of theory I see my music in an enhanced way. So when I learn a new piece I now analyse its features more thoroughly.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Daniel.


Daniel Ryan – BDES1023 Architectural Technologies 1

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 134; response rate 71%].

This unit introduces students to the roles that environmental considerations, structures and construction play in architecture. There are two types of assessment tasks: project assignments and a final exam.

Daniel explains that students value the assessment for several reasons. The first reason is that students perceive clarity in the way the assessment is divided into three strands of assignments on structural understanding, environmental understanding and constructional understanding. The second reason is that each strand is introduced in lectures and students have an opportunity to apply their understanding by starting their assignments in studio classes following the lecture. The third and perhaps most important reason is that students are allowed to apply their understanding intuitively in their assignments, which helps to develop their motivation for learning how to subsequently apply the formal technical principles. As Daniel comments, “it was a bit of a risk but … in fact afterwards we realised that the students fell in love with the design at the beginning so we made it easy and they were motivated right at the start, [then] when they started to hit things like the structure which often requires more of a mathematical or … more complex [understanding] … for many of the students they were already on a roll”. The design of the assessment also provides flexibility to cater to student diversity. As Daniel comments, “with the stronger students you can actually get them … to synthesise it, and with the mid-range students and with the weaker students you can actually just get them to focus on the task at hand. That worked well”.

Students complete a short assignment each week that they add to their project portfolio, e.g., in relation to environmental understanding they make a model to illustrate daylighting and photograph it under different light conditions. The understanding and skills that students develop through each assignment they then synthesise and apply in a final complex drawing that completes their overall design project. Students’ mastery of technical principles is tested in the final exam.

Daniel helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing them with a generic rubric and grade descriptors (e.g., for pass, credit etc.). Tutors also aim to mark students’ work in the week before each tutorial so that they can discuss students’ feedback with them individually in class.

As Daniel comments:

I think the key thing – this [project] is effectively a redesign of an early assignment … [is] being able to go through [and ask] ‘how many variables are actually involved in the assignment’?  The simple thing is to actually reduce the number of variables. That will make a very easy win in terms of redesigning an assignment. Giving more consideration to the staging of how tasks come together is also important”.

Workload: Daniel believes the marking workload is manageable. There are nine tutors, with a maximum ratio of one tutor to 19 students. As Daniel comments, “There has been a strong tradition in Architecture of verbal feedback and dialogue”; however he also thinks that such feedback can be “very subjective” and there is some merit in giving written feedback because “students can actually reflect on [it] and … sometimes bring … a conversation [back] to those points that have previously been [written]”.

Student USE comments included:

“The development and design process kept me intrigued”
“I felt I was actually learning”
“It’s practical and objective which is refreshing in a course often so vague and subjectively assessed.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Daniel.


Dr Rebecca Sheehan – USSC2604 Sex, Race and Rock in the USA

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 176; response rate 51%]

This unit explores the cultural history of and intersections between sexuality, race and rock music in the United States from Elvis to Lady Gaga. There are three assessment tasks: Tutorial readings analysis; Research essay proposal with an annotated bibliography; and Research essay. There is also a take-home exam (students choose 2 questions from 12).

Rebecca explains that students value doing both the essay proposal (with annotated bibliography) and the research essay because they see a connection between two. They particularly like receiving feedback on their proposal because they are given specific instructions and guidance about what to do for the next task (their essay).

Students also appreciate the research essay topics because there is a big variety to choose from (26 different questions), and they are permitted to change these, or develop new ones in consultation with the unit coordinator. Students specifically commented in their qualitative USE feedback that the research essay allowed them to take a risk and be creative.

Students are sent the marking rubrics for each assessment via email, and the rubrics are posted on Blackboard. The rubrics contain the criteria and standards for their assessment tasks.

As Rebecca comments:

“I am concerned about ... having the assessment make sense to them so that they don’t feel like they are being asked to stand on their head for the sake of it, so they can see that it builds over the semester; that there [are] relationships between assignments; and that there is going to be a payoff for them. So if they can go through the process, it’s going to work out for them rather than just something that ... doesn’t make sense to them”.

Workload: Rebecca spends an average of 15-30 minutes marking and writing feedback (feedforward for the Essay task) on each Research essay proposal. She saves all her essay proposal comments in a Word document which in turn helps her to formulate feedback comments for each Essay.

Student USE comments included:

“LOVED the assessment! The proposal and annotated bibliography were awesome preparation for the major essay!”.
“My research skills were improved greatly during this unit of study through an assessment program that truly aided my learning”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Rebecca.


Barney Tan – INFS2030 e-Commerce Business Management

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 50; response rate 78%]

This unit provides students with a detailed overview of the concepts and processes used in doing business electronically via the Internet. There are three assessment tasks: Case study analysis (30%), Group project (30%), and Final exam (40%).

Barney explains that students value the assessment mainly because of the Group project which is authentic for students’ future careers. In their Group project students have to develop an idea for an internet-enabled business; proposals are assessed both on the novelty and feasibility of the idea. The Group project allows students to be creative, and is aligned well with content covered in lectures on e-marketing and e-business models. Students present their business proposal to the class and Barney provides immediate oral feedback, as well as written feedback on their written submission.

During semester students also have to present to the class at least one analysis of an e-business case study; the case study is aligned with the content from the previous week’s lectures. Each week up to three or four students individually present their analysis in class and Barney then provides his summary or ‘model answer’ for the case.

Barney helps students to understand the assessment criteria and standards by giving them his marking guide which, e.g., defines what a good, average and not so good Group project is. The assessment task structure and steps are clearly specified for students and Barney reinforces these task elements in lectures.

As Barney comments:

“You have to invest a lot of effort to develop [the marking guide] the first time around. That has also got to be ... refined through the semesters ... You would try to be as in depth as possible, as transparent as possible, because the students appreciate that. But if you’ve done this over a number of semesters, it gets easier”.

Workload: Barney acknowledges that managing students’ case study presentations each week is a challenge, because the method was originally designed for use in smaller classes. Providing written feedback can also be labour-intensive, however some comments are generic and apply to more than one of the assignments, which makes giving written feedback easier.

Student comments included:

“[Barney] regularly motivates us to do our best and has planned the unit in a way that the students do not feel pressurised and are able to actively engage in the subject and assignments.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • Assessment practices align with goals, context, learning activities and learning outcomes
  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Barney.


Dr Stephan Tillmann – MATH2968 Algebra (Advanced)

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 49; response rate 67%].

This unit provides an introduction to modern abstract algebra, via linear algebra and group theory. There are three types of assessment tasks: Assignments (two), Quizzes (two) and Final exam.

Stephan explains that students value the assessment because they feel prepared for assignments and quizzes by: (i) the lectures; (ii) opportunities to engage in small-group activities in practice classes; and (iii) individual feedback that they receive on solutions in tutorials. Stephan also provides students with realistic ‘props’, e.g., physical geometric objects, for them to apply their understanding to. As Stephan comments “group theory is very, very abstract ... I [get] them to engage with [geometric objects] just to make [it] ... more tangible. Even the students who were coping really well with the abstraction, it really fascinated them as well that one can see these manifestations ... in something concrete”. Students also like to be challenged in this unit and Stephan provides a choice of problems of different levels of difficulty for students to hone their skills.

Stephan helps students to understand the assessment criteria and standards by publishing clear learning outcomes on the course website and providing a ‘preamble’ for each assignment in which he explains what he is looking for, e.g., in terms a good proof. As Stephan says, “it's not just right or wrong ... there [are] also questions ... where they [have] to do some working and [students] get partial credit towards having the right method, having the right idea of how to get started. That counts for more than actually getting a final solution, because it really shows whether they’ve understood something”. In the week before a quiz he also provides examples of quiz questions. The assignments and quizzes prepare students for the final exam.

As Stephan comments:

“[I prefer] not giving feedback so sporadically. So I decided to have two quizzes and two assignments and I just mark one of the assignments myself. That worked out reasonably well and this way I could really have these four pieces of assessment”.

Workload: The workload is manageable; students receive feedback on one assignment from Stephan (tutors mark the other assignment). Stephan provides feedback and model answers on the quizzes one week after the quiz. He also sends an email to students each week reminding them of what was covered in the lectures and problems that they should be working on.

Student USE comments included:

“The assignments have a strong structure of what we have learned.”
“The ‘2 quiz, 2 assignment’ structure for assessment is ideal for maths units, in my opinion.”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Stephan.


Dr Martin Tomitsch – DECO2200 Interaction Design Studio

Over 90% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 41; response rate 63%].

This core unit introduces principles of design for developing interactive software, websites, products, and services. There are three types of assessment tasks: Tutorial activities (15%); Participation (10%); and Design projects (75%).

Martin explains that students value doing their Design projects because the brief he gives out – designing a web application and a mobile/tablet application – reflects current industry trends, and students therefore see the assessment tasks as being relevant to their future careers. The Design projects align with the learning outcomes or skills that Martin expects students to achieve.

Martin also takes time to help students to understand the assessment criteria. He asks students to mark four design projects online (two credit and two high distinction grade projects) from the previous year, and facilitates a discussion about the quality of these projects in class. Martin revisits the assessment criteria throughout the semester in lectures, tutorials and online (e.g., in a blog). He also bases his feedback on the criteria, so students can better understand why they did well and how they could improve. Providing opportunities for students to give him feedback, not just at the end of the semester, but also throughout the semester is equally important.

As Martin comments:

“I believe that ... students in this class felt that I was listening to them, that I was genuinely interested in their feedback ... By making an effort to give them opportunities for feedback, but also to help them to understand the assessment criteria ... I believe that they are also more confident that they are able to demonstrate what they understood”.

Workload: Martin has made gradual changes to his assessment over four iterations of teaching the unit. He acknowledges that there are challenges with doing exemplar activities with students – for example choosing the right exemplars, and making time for discussion during class as part of normal activities; however he believes it is an invaluable approach to help students achieve their full potential. Martin holds moderation meetings with his tutors to discuss and agree on students’ design project marks, which also takes time, but leads to more valuable feedback being given to students.

Student USE comments included:

“Each week, we actually learn something useful and therefore, I am motivated to turn up to class and do the activities”.
“The final assignment really reflects what we have understood from this unit of study”.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment tasks and outcomes are moderated through academic peer review and used to inform subsequent practice

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Martin.


Dr Kevin Walton – LAWS3469 Theories of Law

Over 85% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 36; response rate 78%].

This unit seeks to facilitate critical reflection on prominent responses of both philosophers and sociologists to a single question: what is law? Among the notions to which their answers refer (and on which the unit focuses) are power, class, patriarchy, norms, rules, authority, principles, convention, morality, solidarity, discourse, adjudication and interpretation. There are three types of assessment tasks: class participation, seminar report and research paper.

Kevin suggests that students value the assessment because it is open-ended and flexible. For example, for class participation two to three students are required to be ready to lead discussion around the readings for a seminar. They are not required to make a formal presentation but are ‘on call’. So they are expected to focus on their personal understanding of the material, and to raise questions and share issues about it in class, e.g., “what ... they [found] troubling about it”. For the seminar report students are able to choose the seminar topic on which they write their reflective report. The research paper extends the focus on readings and sources by requiring students to argue a position. Students can choose from five set topics or negotiate their own topic with Kevin. As Kevin notes, “[the research paper is] integrated with [the] other assessments. It’s integrated with what we actually do in the classroom [and is all] about arguments. They read some arguments by ... theorists and it’s about them making sense of those arguments, assessing those arguments and making their own arguments”.

Kevin helps students to understand assessment task criteria and standards by setting aside time in the first classes to discuss what he expects in the tasks. He expands on the criteria published in the unit outline. He also makes himself available either in person, or via email or phone for students to consult individually with him about the assessment, e.g., to discuss any concerns they may have about their approach to searching the literature or developing their arguments. Kevin also provides whole class feedback about common issues.

As Kevin comments:

What we do in the classroom is ... connected to the assessment. Because we’ll be raising arguments about the material in class and students will often want to build on those arguments for themselves. [They want to] go off and do more research on particular aspects of the material. So we talk about assessment a lot and what’s expected”.

Workload: Kevin believes his marking workload is manageable. He makes quick notes after class on students’ participation, provides verbal feedback to students and awards a mark at the end of semester. The workload for the seminar report is highest because he spends more time on giving written feedback that students can use for their research paper. For the final paper Kevin only provides feedback if students request it.

Student USE comments included:

Allowed for flexibility and therefore stronger engagement.
Definitely tailored assessments to students’ interests.

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes
  • Assessment practices address issues of equity and inclusiveness to accommodate and build upon the diversity of the student body so as not to disadvantage any student

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Kevin.


Dr Terry Woronov – ANTH2620 China: Contemporary Ethnographies

Over 95% of students agreed that the unit of study assessment allowed them to demonstrate what they had learned [class size = 47; response rate 55%].

This unit provides students with an introduction to major contemporary issues in China and recent ethnographic works on Chinese society, to understand how ethnographers use different methods and theories to construct arguments. There are three types of assessment tasks: discussion board postings (5 x 200 words), a short essay (1000 words) and a final essay (2500 words).

Terry explains that students value the assessment because they perceive how each assessment task is closely linked and relates to the one that follows it. Students can use the understanding that they have developed in one assignment to complete their next assignment; for example, in their first discussion board posting students write a short comparison of two readings, with a focus on how authors’ ethnographic methods are similar and different. Then the short essay is essentially the same task, which is to write a critique of a reading. Key learning outcomes include for students to be able to compare and contrast ethnographic methods, and understand the legitimate grounds of a critique in Anthropology. A key advantage of setting postings as assessment tasks is that students are required to engage with the readings. As Terry comments, “I thought [students] would resent it, and in fact they appreciate it and … [that] the tutes go better … they have all done the reading and they’re ready to talk and … to participate”.

Terry helps students to understand the criteria and standards for the assessment tasks by providing explicit instructions for each task. In tutorials, she also discusses examples of the types of writing she is looking for, e.g., she discusses how to write a synopsis, and shows students examples of good and poor synopses. Terry uses the Blackboard rubric tool to mark students’ work and provide feedback.

As Terry comments:

“[Students] know … they’ve got to do the reading … they know exactly what question to respond to; they know what they’re reading for and why they’re reading; [and] they know they’re doing the reading in that particular way, because it’s feeding into a bigger assessment”.

Workload: Terry believes her marking workload is manageable; she marks the five postings online and provides a sentence or two of feedback with a focus on what students need to do in their essay: “[the] online feedback is minimal and quick and easy”. She writes feedback comments for the short essay and does not provide feedback, only a mark, for the final essay. Students have the option of specifically requesting feedback on their final essay, however few do. As Terry comments: “I love [for] … students to do something online [in] as many weeks of the [unit] as possible … it sounds like spoon-feeding but it’s not – I’m just helping them stay on top of the material … Blackboard just makes that so easy, and my marking in Blackboard, I set up things that are minimal time requirement for me”.

Student USE comments included:

“The assessment tasks and definitions helped to develop information, literary and communication skills”
“The assessments were very useful because they required us to integrate topics and link them to common themes across readings”

Key aspects of the University’s assessment policy principles implemented in this unit of study include:

  • A variety of assessment tasks are used
  • Assessment tasks reflect increasing levels of complexity
  • Constructive, timely and respectful feedback guides the development of future student work
  • Assessment tasks are authentic and appropriate to the disciplinary and/or professional context
  • Assessment will be evaluated solely on the basis of students’ achievement against criteria and standards specified to align with learning outcomes

For more information about assessment in this unit of study, contact Terry.