Assessment and Feedback - understanding its role at the IoA
You come to university to get a degree, but your primary goal is to develop your knowledge, understanding and skills for the next stage of your life. Assessment and feedback support you to do just that.
1. What’s the point of assessment?
Well-designed assessment actually helps you progress through your programme. It helps your learning, as well as measuring it, by focusing your attention on tasks and content that reflect the learning outcomes of the programme. Assessment helps you measure your progress. It helps you and your teachers/tutors see what you have understood and which aspects still need some work.
2. How do I find out what is expected of me on my programme?
Read your Module Handbook and Moodle for each of your modules. If it’s not clear, ask your module coordinator. Pay close attention to:
• learning outcomes – your guidelines for the knowledge, understanding and skills you are expected to develop by the end of your programme
• regulations – attendance requirements, penalties for late submission or exceeding word count, plagiarism, absence from assessment etc.
• marking/assessment criteria – these make clear what the assessor will be looking for in your work
3. In what ways might I be assessed?
Your knowledge, understanding and skills can be tested – or assessed - in lots of different ways. You are usually assessed through assignments or exams. They can be an essay, a lab report, group work, a video, a set of worked problems, a journal article, a seminar contribution, a poster, an examination. You’ll probably experience several different types of assessment during your time at UCL.
4. What’s the difference between formative and summative assessment?
• an assignment or exam that doesn’t count towards your final mark
• you get constructive feedback which helps you to work out your progress
All IoA degrees have a practice essay at the start which serves as formative assessment. This is your chance to practice assessments, so you can find out where your knowledge and understanding is solid, where you need to do more work, and what you need to do to improve your results. Try out new approaches, take some risks, push the boundaries. The feedback on formative assessment is really valuable, so examine it carefully and if there’s anything that’s not clear, ask questions – of your peers, tutors and lecturers.
• an assignment or exam that counts towards your final module mark
• the mark and comments you get are important pieces of feedback – they tell you a lot about your progress and help you to focus your efforts in future assessments.
5. What is feedback for?
Feedback tells you more about what you did well and what you can still do to improve. Feedback also helps you prepare for your next assessment task.
Your mark is an important part of your feedback because it measures how far you’ve progressed. But you also need to understand how you could do even better. That’s where written and oral feedback comes in. It helps you identify your strengths as well as those areas that need more work.
Feedback should always make you feel supported and able to identify what to do next. Remember, the feedback you’re given is about the piece of work, not about you personally.
6. What kinds of feedback will I get?
From day one on your programme, you’ll be getting feedback: it could be comments made in a lecture, discussions in a seminar or tutorial, feedback on practice exercises in class, answers to queries about coursework on a forum or in live Q&A sessions, conversations with other students on the module. Sometimes it’s not appropriate for your teacher/tutor to give individual feedback. Instead, they might give generic feedback to the group.
There are many ways of getting feedback and you should be using all of them. Engage with your teaching, contribute to seminars or tutorials; ask questions in lectures – even if it is just to let the lecturer know that you don’t understand and you’d like them to go through it again.
Remember, your work on an assignment isn’t finished once you’ve handed it in. The final stage is feedback and how you make use of it. Your teachers must give an indication of when you can expect to receive feedback on your work.
7. How long does it take to get feedback on an assignment?
You should receive feedback within one calendar month of the submission deadline of each piece of assessed work. If the one calendar month deadline cannot be met then your module coordinator must contact you directly to let you know when the feedback will be provided. The extra time should not exceed one week.
8. What do I do with the feedback I get?
The feedback you get may be very specific, clearly signposting your route to improvement by pointing out gaps in your knowledge or problems with the way you have applied it. It may be more general, requiring a bit more reflection. Try discussing your feedback with other students on your module, or with your personal tutor.
Look at the comments you receive on your assignments and think about where and how you can improve. General comments might be made in lectures or seminars or tutorials, so write them down so you have them to refer back to.
Use your feedback to help you compare your work with other work that has been marked. Being able to decide for yourself how well you’re doing, rather than solely relying on feedback from staff, is a really useful skill, which you will use again and again in your future career.
If you do need more guidance, talk to your module coordinator or personal tutor.