UCL Changemakers


Assessment & Feedback

Let's explore the theme 'Assessment & feedback: co-creating assessment' and see what you could do for your ChangeMakers Project.

What do we mean by 'co-creating assessments'?

“Co-creation of learning and teaching occurs when staff and students work collaboratively with one another to create components of curricula and/or pedagogical approaches.” (Bovill et al, 2016)

Co-creation can be understood as both something that can inform curriculum and assessment design (e.g., a project prior to teaching taking place to re-design the curriculum or produce new teaching resources) as well as something that can happen within the curriculum (all students within a module co-create the assessment rubrics for an assigment task). The latter is a whole-class approach and involves all students in a module/programme whereas the former involves a smaller number who have put themselves forward for the opportunity. 

Co-creation is an aspect of student-staff partnership. It draws on the knowledge and pedagogical expertise of staff and the diverse perspectives and experiences of students. But it is also a different way of working that disrupts more traditional staff/student relationships, asking both students and staff to occupy new roles within the process of learning that may feel unfamiliar. For this reason, Bovill recommends viewing co-creation as a spectrum through which both staff and students need to build their confidence. 

Although we are talking about co-creating assessments, this extends to the feedback students receive and should be explored alongside any discussions about assessment.

What are the benefits of co-creation?

  • Co-creation engages students in higher order thinking skills.
  • Co-creating assessment helps students build assessment literacy, so doing low-stakes co-creation of assessment early on can be a powerful tool to help students better engage with assessment practices throughout their time at university.
  • Involving students in assessment design brings in fresh perspectives and new insights to stimulate and reinvigorate assessment discussions.
  • Co-creation is an inclusive practice which values a diverse range of perspectives.

Why is this theme a priority?

Assessment & feedback continues to be an area of dissatisfaction in student surveys. Free-text comments often signal assessment bunching, negative impacts on student mental health/wellbeing and the usefulness/timeliness of feedback as key issues that need addressing. These are all critical challenges across the sector, with the pandemic challenging the status quo of assessment practice in Higher Education (Pitt, 2021). This has both opened up opportunities to do things differently whilst adding complexity, for example raising challenges around academic integrity and needing to re-examine quality assurance processes. 

Why explore assessment and feedback through ChangeMakers?

ChangeMakers projects are intended to support students and staff working collaboratively on these issues and this could be a unique point in history where discussions being open about the challenges and understanding each other perspectives and needs could help facilitate genuine change that benefits all. For students, this could mean fewer but more authentic assessment that enable them to apply their learning and demonstrate key learning outcomes. For staff, this could mean less pressure on support services if students experience less stress and anxiety and also a reduced marking and feedback workload. 

ChangeMakers provides a good platform for these discussions. Students often feel disempowered and are unlikely to suggest projects/changes to their assessments because it doesn't feel like an area they have any say over but a joint proposal developed with a member of staff can invite them into this space and help get fresh insights and a meeting of expectations. Equally, staff don't always know how and when to involve students in the discussions or where to get the support they need. Our aim is that through a ChangeMakers project will help staff and students have those conversations and connect them with the people best able to help. 

What are we looking for under this theme?

  • Projects that create opportunities for staff and students to have conversations about assessment and feedback;
  • Exploring how to co-design assessment with students;
  • Projects that test out how to co-create assessments within the curriculum, although these might be positioned as co-curricular opportunities for the project;
  • Exploring authentic assessments that enable students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems that prepare them for their next steps;
  • Exploring choice and diversity as a means of inclusive assessment practices. 

What about a review or audit of assessment and feedback?

If you are looking to review/audit your assessment practices in partnership with students, we support this activity through Student Quality Reviewers, including working with students to map out programme assessments via the CHART tool (the CHART tool is currently being developed to help teams map assessment across their programmes and creates a visual diagram of both summative and formative assessments deadlines and assessment types).  Please contact: sqreviewers@ucl.ac.uk for a discussion with the team. 

Ideas to get you started

A menu of co-creation options from Cathy Bovill

Cathy Bovill's presentation offers a number of ideas for co-creating assessments with students, including:

  • Choice of assessment 
  • Designing marking rubrics
  • Students design essay question
  • Students decide assessment weighting
  • Student-designed MCQs-Peerwise

View the full presentation: 'Student-staff co-creation of assessment'

Co-Creating Assessments using backwards design, Bournemouth University

This project team at Bournemouth University hosted an exploratory workshop where students were asked to first examine the intending learning outcomes of a module before thinking about what the most appropriate and meaningful way to assess students, in discussion with staff. The project team are not claiming this to be best practice, but were testing out ways in which we can collaborate with students on assessment and feedback practice. 

Full article: The co-creation of unit assessments using backwards design (this includes videos of what happened and insights from both staff and students involved). 

Co-creating rubrics with students

There are many examples of this in Higher Education but the University of Colorado has a particularly clear resource on co-creating rubrics with students

In summary, co-creating rubrics with students creates transparency within the marking process and through engaging in the activity, students build a greater understanding of assessment requirements. 

A further extension of this would be to engage student in peer marking using the rubric.


  • Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L., & Moore-Cherry, N. (2016). Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: Overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student–staff partnerships. Higher Education71(2), 195-208.
  • Pitt, E (2021) Introduction: assessment and feedback in a post-pandemic era: a time for learning and inclusion. Advance HE.