5 top tips for understanding assessment and feedback at UCL
16 August 2017
In this article, Dr. Alex Standen and Dr. Teresa McConlogue give their 5 top tips to help you to understand assessment and feedback at UCL.
The process of being assessed and receiving feedback on your work will be essential to your learning throughout your time at UCL. Assignments such as essays, presentations and reports, alongside tests and exams, are used to assess your progress against the aims and expectations of modules and programmes. Feedback is given to help you understand where you have done well and where you can improve in later assignments.
Here are some tips for preparing for assessments and what to expect:
- At some point during your studies you will hear the terms ‘summative’ and ‘formative’ in relation to assessment: in general, summative assessments count towards a mark and are usually used to measure performance at the end of a module; formative assessments are designed to allow you to practise and receive feedback to improve your knowledge and skills. Formative assessments don’t count towards your marks for the module but will help prepare you for summative assessments. Make the most of formative opportunities to maximise your chances for success in summative assessments!
- Some tutors might involve you in peer assessment, sometimes called peer evaluation or review. Here, students share the responsibility for assessing the work of their peers against set assessment criteria. It’s a great way for you to act as the ‘assessor’ and gain a better understanding of assessment criteria and processes.
- Different assignments will have different requirements: always make sure you read the brief or instructions carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked. If you are unsure what is required, ask! You might be able to post a question on Moodle, or you can ask your tutor directly, and don’t forget to speak to your fellow students – the chances are someone else will have the same questions as you.
- In preparation for any assignment, look at the criteria – this will tell you the basis on which the piece of work is being assessed. If you don’t understand the criteria, work with other students in your group to identify what you don’t understand and prepare questions for your tutor. And when working on an assignment, try and develop your self-assessment skills by reviewing and evaluating your work against the criteria.
- Read any feedback you receive carefully and think about how well you’ve done against the brief and criteria. If you don’t understand the feedback, be sure to ask for clarification. Compare it to other feedback you have received – do you notice any patterns or areas you need to work more on? And when it comes to your next assignment, think about how you can apply any of the advice given to improve even further next time!
Dr. Alex Standen and Dr. Teresa McConlogue, UCL Arena Centre for Research-Based Education