Teaching & Learning


Nine UCL departments pilot assessment design process

29 October 2019

Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA) is a student-focused approach to improving assessment and feedback practice.

Students pictured from above sitting around a table with books and papers

A new project pilot has been launched to support departments with using TESTA – a methodology which analyses and reviews assessment practice across all years of a programme and how students experience it.

TESTA enables programme teams to develop good assessment design which supports students’ learning and facilitates their success; something which can be easily overlooked due to the modular and interdisciplinary nature of a UCL education.

A systemic approach to using the methodology will be introduced in all pilot departments this year, supported by a project team of Professor Simon Walker (Academic Lead) and colleagues from the Office of the Vice-Provost for Education & Student Affairs and Arena.

TESTA will help departments to identify:

  • the quantity and distribution of assessment
  • the balance of formative and summative assessments
  • the variety of assessment methods
  • the clarity of expectations of students
  • the quality of feedback students receive
  • the relationship between these factors and students’ overall experience on their programme
  • what issues need to be resolved
  • the impact assessment has on different groups of students (e.g. PGT, BME, international etc.)

As well as providing a rich source of information and action points for pilot departments, outcomes from this project will help inform what we do as an institution to improve students’ experience of assessment and to maximise their opportunities to succeed.

The pilot will be evaluated over the summer to inform future plans, including proposals for embedding and promoting TESTA beyond 2019-20.

What does TESTA involve?

Once degree programmes with ‘typical’ routes are identified, departments will work with the project team on a number of activities, including:

  • Data collection through a programme audit (reviewing assessment strategies, mapping assessment points across the programme)
  • Administering Assessment Experience Questionnaires to gather feedback from all students on the selected degree programmes
  • Running student focus groups
  • Analysing and reviewing all data (qualitative and quantitative) to create meaningful and actionable outcomes.

Following the production of a confidential report, the team and departments meet to discuss the findings and recommendations.

What are the benefits?

Following this holistic analysis, TESTA should provide multiple insights and opportunities for possible improvements, including:

  • student satisfaction
  • organisation and staff workload planning
  • understanding of assessment ‘issues’ and the barriers for some student groups
  • assessment literacy for staff and students
  • student achievement (as a result of better assessment strategies) and student self-regulation
  • understanding of resource requirements (e.g. library, lab etc).
  • sharing of best practice and approaches across modules
  • developing shared understanding and language for assessment practices that will support consistency in student experience.

Further information 

If you would like further information about TESTA or the pilot project, please contact Leigh Kilpert (l.kilpert@ucl.ac.uk), Head of Strategy Engagement.