Approaches to Inclusive Assessment and Feedback

What is an assessment?

Assessment describes any processes that evaluate the outcomes of student learning in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and abilities. All students should be subject to some form of assessment, for all modules of study, which will enable them to develop and progress through their University journey.

Why is effective assessment important?

‘Assessment is the senior partner in learning and teaching. Get it wrong and the rest collapses’ (Biggs and Tang, 2011).

The role of assessment, in the learning and teaching experience, plays a critical role in the development of the student skill set and to their overall experience.

‘Nothing we do to, or for our students are more important than our assessments of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence students for the rest of their lives…’ (Race et. al, 2005).

A well designed assessment can not only encourage areas such as active learning but address issues relating to academic integrity, inclusivity and employability. There are also opportunities for colleagues, through relevant review processes such as module evaluation, to develop teaching approaches and evidence effective practice in performance. In relation to employability, effective assessment, ideally varied in design, will maximise the opportunity for all learning outcomes to be met and for each student to be industry-ready upon graduating. The UK Quality Code for Higher Education Guiding Principles for Assessment guide the ways in which the University should approach both assessment and feedback.

In-line with the University’s Assessment & Feedback Policy, effective assessment can:

  • Provide a means to enhance student learning by providing appropriate feedback on performance;
  • Provide a means to allow students to develop key skills and graduate attributes for employability and life-long learning;
  • Provide a means by which to measure and certify student achievements against the learning outcomes of the module – also referred to as Assessment of learning;
  • Provide a reliable and consistent basis for the recommendation of an appropriate grade or award;
  • Provide a means by which staff can evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching.

How does the University make sure assessments are fit for purpose?

To evidence our commitment to providing assessments, which meet the principles of the UK Quality Code, the University aims to ensure suitable and robust quality assurance processes for all assessments. These include utilising student feedback – through surveys, module feedback or other platforms – as well as ensuring both internal and external review processes are completed.

The University’s Assessment & Feedback Policy outlines the partnership and commitment, between the University, staff and students in delivering an inclusive, collaborative and empowering assessment approach.

As part of the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy all programmes will aim to improve the effectiveness of assessment and feedback methods for staff and students and to reduce the overall burden of assessment. In-line with the University’s Assessment & Feedback Policy colleagues are required to:

  1. Develop assessment which empower students to meet the intended learning outcomes of the module
  2. Link each assessment to assessment criteria for attaining academic standards for progression. Students must be made aware of the assessment criteria over and above the inclusion of general assessment criteria within College/School handbooks.
  3. Ensure assessments are inclusive and must meet the needs of all students as outlined by the Equality Act (2010).
  4. Offer alternative assessment methods which meet the same competence standards and assess the same learning outcomes.
  5. Ensure students experience a varied range of assessment methods across modules within a level of study and across a programme.
  6. Design assessments which provide all students with the opportunity to develop key transferable skills that will enhance employability and their graduate attributes.
  7. Ensure programmes contain appropriate formative assessment to allow students and staff to reflect on their learning progress and improve for future assessments.
  8. Give students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with any new assessment methodology introduced or utilised in a programme/module.
  9. Where appropriate, design assessments which assure the practitioner’s fitness to practice and to safeguard the public.
  10. Give Students the opportunity to evaluate whether a module assessment, in particular any alternative assessment provisions made, has allowed them to demonstrate the intended learning outcomes and whether the assessment criteria have been clear and useful.
  11. Ensure students have access to at least one past or sample examination paper for each examination format, along with any generic feedback relating to a specific past paper.
  12. Not re-use examination or assessment questions but, in exceptional circumstance, if they are re-used as part of a question bank or similar, they should not be re-used within 3 years.

How can assessment play a role in staff development?

As detailed above, assessment also offers the opportunity to development of teaching quality and approaches. Peer observation, which predominately focuses on teaching delivery, will be outlined later in the code of practice. However, through mechanisms such as external examiner reports, there are opportunities to reflect on assessment suitability, and effectiveness, to ensure ongoing evolution of delivery.

External Examiners have a key role in the development of assessments, and in the monitoring of marking. Please refer to the Code of Practice for External Examiners for further information on how External Examiners’ assist in the development of assessment.

External Examiners, at both the undergraduate and taught postgraduate level should act as overseers of the moderation process only, and not as second markers or moderators themselves.

These peer observation and external examiner mechanisms also play a critical role in equality and inclusivity of assessment. Allen (2020) outlines:

‘We need a standard measure of attainment. If higher education policy is to be better informed there has to be a “levelling up” in the measurement of student attainment’.

Therefore, whilst consistency in assessment can sometimes be challenging, putting additional mechanisms in place can not only address ‘levelling up’ issues but also provide important development opportunities and sharing of effective practice principles.

What types of assessments can I use?

There are a range of approaches to assessment which, when carefully designed and implemented, can significantly enhance the student experience:

Formative Assessment 

Designed to help learners learn more effectively, to develop a skill and discover how to approach different types of assessments to suit their learner style.

Summative Assessment 

Used to indicate and measure the students’ success in meeting the assessment criteria. Only summative assessments count towards a students’ final mark.

Continuous Assessment

Refers to evaluation of student progress throughout a course. Coursework is a prime example of this.

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessments are those that are created to replicate real-world situations and scenarios. You can find more information, on Authentic Assessments, on our SALT Website

Diagnostic Assessment

Used, usually at the start of a module, to provide an indicator of a learner’s aptitude, progress and preparedness for undertaking a module, programme or assessment

Synoptic Assessment 

An approach to Programme Level assessment whereby the learning outcomes from a range of modules can be synthesised into a single assessment point.

Programme Level Assessment

A holistic approach to assessment and learning. It can eliminate the compartmentalised approach to learning experienced, reduce the assessment load silo approach, and improve employability skills.

Ipsative Assessment

Focused on individual performance, it is based on developing a student’s previous individual performance rather against external criteria and standards

Inclusive Assessment

Promotes equivalence and parity in assessment, which does not necessarily mean that all students are treated the same.

Optional/Student Selected Assessment

Students can select from a range of assessment types to demonstrate the intended learning outcomes

Alternative Assessment

Assessment that may be required to meet specific individual student needs. If the primary assessment is effectively inclusive, the need for alternative assessment should be reduced

What are my responsibilities when marking an assessment?

As with all processes relating to learning & teaching, all staff should ensure the marking process of any assessment is both inclusive and equal. The University’s Policy on Moderation provides guidance on the responsibilities of all staff in regards to the marking of assessments. In addition to ensuring students understand the marking criteria, through in-class information and the assessment rubric, they are working to, it is also important to ensure moderation of assessment takes place in a rigorous, consistent and transparent manner.

What is moderation of assessment?

Moderation is the process of assuring that assessments have been marked in an academically rigorous manner with reference to agreed marking criteria.

Moderation practices should:

  • seek to ensure accuracy and fairness;
  • be appropriate and acceptable to the discipline being taught;
  • be suitable to the material being assessed;
  • be suitable to the means of assessment being used;
  • be clearly evidenced in the feedback provided to students. The External Examiner will need to refer to this in undertaking his/her role.

As part of the moderation process, the University expects all assessments to be moderated in one of the 5 following ways:

Universal Double Blind Marking of the whole cohort 

The first marker makes no notes of any kind on the work being marked and the second marker examines the submission as it was submitted by the student. Both examiners record their marks and feedback separately and then compare marks and resolve differences to produce an agreed mark.

Universal Non-Blind Double Marking of the whole cohort

The first marker provides feedback for the student on the assessment and the second marker assesses the work with this information known. No actual marks are disclosed; or marks are, for example, written on the back cover of an examination book.

Moderation of the entire cohort as Check or Audit

The first marker provides feedback for the student and awards a mark. The role of the second marker is to check that first marking has been carried out correctly.

Moderation by sampling of the cohort

The second marker samples work already first marked, with feedback for students and marks attached, in order to check overall standards. This may be used where first markers are less experienced, where there are several first markers and consistency may be a problem or where unusual patterns of performance are expected or observed.

Partial Moderation

Any of the above may be applied to particular types of marks e.g., fails, firsts, or borderlines.

How can I ensure both staff and students understand the marking criteria/standards?

Assessment rubrics provide clear indicators for assessment and achievement criteria across all the components of any kind of student work, from written to oral to visual. It can be used for marking assignments, class participation, or overall grades, and can be used as part of feedback.

Subject specific online assessment rubrics will be made available to students when the assessments are set at the beginning of a session, and then revisited at key points throughout the year.

Can students play a role in the assessment process?

In order to ensure assessment and feedback is valuable and inclusive, students have a key role to play in the process. Students can add to an inclusive environment by:

  • Submit electronically where possible 
  • Demonstrate they have achieved academic (and where appropriate professional) standards by completing assessments. 
  • Meet professional and ethical standards appropriate to the subject. 
  • Inform the University of any medical or other reasonable adjustments requiring modification to assessments at the start of each academic year, or as soon as possible. 
  • Comply with all University regulations, including those on academic integrity 

There are also opportunities to further promote inclusivity by engaging students in the design of assessments they may undertake and in the assessing of both their own and their peers’ work. Leslie & Gorman (2017) outlined that ‘Student engagement is vital in enhancing the student experience and encouraging deeper learning. Involving students in the design of assessment criteria is one way in which to increase student engagement’.

Therefore, involving students in the design of assessment, and in assessing itself, promotes student engagement and, through understanding how students believe their skills can best be evaluated, allows them to engage in their learning and meet the desired outcomes of the module. In regards to the assessment of work, Race (2013) outlines:

‘Nothing affects students more than assessment, yet they often claim to be in the dark as to what goes on in the minds of their assessors and examiners. Involving students in peer and self-assessment can let them in to the assessment culture they must survive in’.

What are peer and self-assessment?

Peer assessment focuses on students assessing the work of fellow students against the criteria outlined in the assessment brief (or rubrics). Self-assessment is inherently the same principle but facilitates an individual student in evaluating their own work. From both an academic and professional skills development standpoint, both approaches offer an opportunity for participants to understand standards, engage in their learning and improve their performance.

Both peer and self-assessment are predominantly used in formative assessment, in order to assist students in their development towards learning outcomes, but can also be used as a summative approach for reflection on group contributions. 

‘The use of student self and peer assessment can help students develop their assessment literacies, understand how to approach summative assessment more effectively and learn how to use marking criteria to help structure their techniques for assessed pieces of work and exams. The use of some self and peer assessment can also alleviate marking requirements for staff’. Newcastle University, L&T Development Service (2020).

Why is it important to vary assessment approaches?

Providing students with a variety of assessment methods allows them to demonstrate their ability using different types of learning, at least some of the time. Research evidence suggests that everyone is different in the way they learn and how they convey an understanding of what has been learnt (Biggs, 1999), making the use of a variety of assessment methods an increasingly important part of learning and development.

Each assessment method has a range of advantages and disadvantages. By adopting a variety of assessment methods within modules and programme, there is an opportunity to even out disadvantages and maximise the reliability of the assessment overall.

Another key factor in developing a variety of assessment is that it is extremely beneficial for inclusive learning and for meeting the requirements of the Equality Act (2010). By offering variety of assessment, the University will be reflecting the diversity of the student body.

The Quality Assurance Agency’s UK quality code for Higher Education states:

‘Through inclusive design wherever possible, and through individual reasonable adjustments wherever required, assessment tasks provide every student with an equal opportunity to demonstrate their achievement’.

Therefore, through maximising the opportunity for every student to reach their potential, the University can evidence a commitment to equality of both opportunity and achievement.

How can I ensure an effective balance of assessment(s)?

Assessment load must be balanced and appropriate for the subject area. When setting assessment, consideration should be given to how this reflects the credit weighting of the module, and how the assessment type works within the overall assessment strategy of the module, including its link to the learning outcomes, to avoid over-assessing students.

The table below provides indicative comparative assessment load for a typical taught 10-credit module. Whilst the table outlines an example of assessment, balance should focus on the contribution and weighting an element or module makes to the overall award. Therefore, when designing an assessment, learning outcomes should be a key element of consideration. Colleagues may also want to consider how both formative and summative assessments, which will be covered later in the code of practice, can play a role in delivery.

When it comes to designing and implementing assessment equivalence tables, there is a wide range of opinion across the sector (see ‘Pedagogy and Principles’). These range from simply, ‘don’t do it’ to more pragmatic responses. One point often raised is that perhaps defining equivalence tables for creative assessment may be something of an oxymoron. This is particularly the case where overarching institutional-wide tables are concerned.

There are likely to be variations dependent on subject and it is imperative that consideration is given to assessment formats and how they are judged. When exploring the use of creative assessment types, a clear justification should be established. For example, blogs should not be used solely as a ‘new’ format but particular characteristic of blogging should be considered i.e. is there a requirement for regular reflection? Is it necessary to create a learning journal that can be viewed and commented on by others? If that’s not the case a blog is merely an extra hoop for students to jump though.

Another key issue to consider, when designing creative assessment types, is the set of skills required for students to succeed. For example, if creating a video, will the technical aspects be marked? If the medium is not part of the message should the quality of the video be assessed? Additionally, factors such as cohort size and professional body requirements will need careful consideration.

Equivalency tables

Module Coordinators and Programme Directors should consider the overall assessment strategy and pattern of the programme whenever new modules are made available, to ensure the overall programme assessment pattern remains balanced. Formative assessments do not need to be included on the assessment system, but staff may find it beneficial to include this on the module proforma to aid the approval process.

Table 1 (below) outlines the current Swansea University position on assessment equivalency based on a 10-credit module. The current approach does not differentiate level of study. Therefore, it is proposed the University amends the current equivalency approach, again using 10-credit as a base, to the information outlined in Table below:




Timed Examinations


30 minutes

2000-2500 words

60 – 120 minutes


15-30 minutes

1500-2000 words

60-90 minutes


10-15 minutes

1000-1500 words

60 minutes


5-10 minutes

Up to 1000 words

Up to 60 minutes

Written assessment may include any of the following: Written Assignment/Essay, Research Project/Dissertation, Process Workbooks/Journals, Written Report, Lab Book, Academic Review, Blog/Wiki, and Placement Report.

Assessment Type

Unit of Assessment


Level 4

Level 5

Level 6

Level 7

Written Assessment*

Word Length


1500 min

2000 max

2000 min

2500 max

2000 min

2500 max

2500 min

3000 max

Examination (Seen/unseen)

Duration (hours)


1 min

2 max

2 min

3 max

2 min

3 max

2 min

3 max













Minimum entries










Seminar Presentation (individual)

Duration (minutes)


10 min

15 max

15 min

20 max

15 min

40 max

15 min

40 max

Seminar Presentation


Duration per person (minutes)


15 min

20 max

15 min

20 max

20 min

45 max

20 min

45 max

Video (Individual)

Duration (minutes)



10 max

10 min

15 max

10 min

15 max

15 min

20 max

Video (Group)

Duration per person (minutes)


8 min

12 max

12 min

16 max

12 min

16 max

16 min

20 max

Practical Performance Project

Duration per person (minutes)


4 min

8 max

6 min

10 max

Extended Performance project dependent on context

Academic Interview

Duration (minutes)


30 min

40 max

40 min

50 max

40 min

50 max

50 min

60 max

*Portfolio: elements might refer to various activities, abstracts, poems, literature reviews, sketch book, pieces of art, number of project briefs, and stages in the creation of a single artefact or activity.

Flexible Approach

Whilst the conversation around assessment equivalence is growing, the above information should not be taken as an implicit approach to alternative assessments. Ultimately, assessment should be designed to ensure inclusive approaches to learning and to meet the desired learning outcome(s) for the subject area and desired competency standards are met.

A number of universities have moved away from equivalency tables to a more flexible approach which allow for creative guidance. As a result of the sector discussion, we have adapted the A – Z of assessment methods in table 3 from the work of Anne Crook, University of Reading, outlining a wide range of assignment types, and the skills each assessment may be suitable for assessing.

In a recent programme redesign, Glasgow University moved away from considering assessment as a ‘written’ undertaking for evidencing attainment, to focusing on assessment methods that best evidences attainment (see guidance in ‘references’).

Word count equivalence is traditionally used as a workload indicator but it must be acknowledged that allocating word count equivalency, to practical or non-traditional assessments, is challenging. Programme teams are therefore encouraged to share and discuss their assessment strategies, to determine appropriate workloads/work hours for their subject-specific contexts, stages and programme levels.

Assessment methods need to be varied and flexible, in order to account for the variety of learning outcomes and/or skills that they assess (Race et al., 2005) and the diversity of student abilities and learning modes. Swansea University’s SAILS team offer advice and guidance on ensuring inclusivity. SAILS work to embed inclusivity across the University to ensure all students – regardless of their background or protected-characteristic – have the opportunity to progress in Higher Education.

Across the sector it is also widely agreed that there is a need to develop inclusive practice and flexibility in approaches to assessment. However, it is acknowledged that different ways of assessing would depend on, and vary, according to the discipline and subject matter at question and thus universal equivalents e.g. 1,000-word essay = a 1hr exam would defeat the object. University of the Arts London developed an assessment glossary to support staff – one they can adapt to their context (bearing in mind that guidance/good practice can often be perceived as authoritative).

What is authentic assessment?

Gulikers, Bastiaens & Kirschner (2004) define authentic assessment as: ‘An assessment requiring students to use the same competencies, or combinations of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they need to apply in the criterion situation in professional life’.

Therefore, the principle of authentic assessment is to evaluate student knowledge or skill, in a way which intertwines both academic and professional requirements, in a real-world context. 

How could I implement authentic assessment principles?

The assessment types table outlines the strengths and developmental areas of a variety of assessment approaches. Although there may not be a suitable approach for all, dependent on the subject area, there may be an assessment type which is most relevant to creating a ‘real-world’ scenario.

The ‘Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)’ or ‘Objective Structured Skills Examination (OSSE)’ is an approach which can facilitate these ‘real-world’ assessment approaches.   

Harden, Lilley and Patricio (2016), which focuses on clinical settings, describe the approach as ‘performance-based examination in which examinees are observed and scored as they rotate around a series of stations. Each station focuses on an element of (clinical) competence, and the learner’s performance (with a real patient), is assessed’.

Whilst Harden, Lilley and Patricio outline the approach in a clinical setting, which has previously predominately been where the approaches have focused, Whilst OCSE has been prevalent within healthcare assessment since the mid-1900s, the principles can be adapted to meet a variety of other subject areas where the evidencing of specific professional knowledge or skills is required.

Why should I use OSCE/OSSE approaches?

The principles of OSCE/OSSE allow for students to embed their academic understanding with the professional skills they require for their chosen subject area. Through these approaches, it allows students to enhance their employability skills and meet objectives of the ‘Swansea Graduate’.


The use of OSCE plays an important role in the professional development of midwifery students, at Swansea University, and is particularly prevalent in final year skills assessments.

Building on exposure to the approach – in the first two years – student learning is facilitated through a lead lecture and followed up with same-day practical sessions. Students have the opportunity to undertake both a formative assessment, as well as a 2nd formative mock assessment, before undertaking their summative elements.

In the formative sessions, student learning – in both a professional and academic perspective – is facilitated through peer-to-peer marking and added to by verbal feedback from the lecturer. The summative elements can often consist of several assessment stations with students being assessed on 2 or more elements of an unknown real-world scenario.

When utilising these approaches, students are encouraged, and assisted, in understanding both the learning outcomes and the required professional skills. An effective approach in supporting students in their understanding is through the use of assessment rubrics.

Assessment Rubrics

Assessment rubrics provide clear indicators for assessment and achievement criteria across all the components of any kind of student work, from written to oral to visual. It can be used for marking assignments, class participation, or overall grades, and can be used as part of feedback.

Subject specific online assessment rubrics will be made available to students when the assessments are set at the beginning of a session, and then revisited at key points throughout the year.  Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT) will provide advice on assessment rubrics which can be used with TurnitIn’s Rubric tool, or used for any other type of electronic marking, and which should form a key part of the feedback process.

Example Assessment Rubric

Assessment criteria by level for Contextual Study, Final Draft (20%) and Final Presentation (80%)


Final Draft

Final Presentation



analytical focus


Critical/ theoretical approach


Use of empirical evidence


Coherence/ validity of argument


Critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Effective presentation


Independent imaginative reflective view



Topic fully developed with an assured and clear focus


Assured critical/ theoretical analysis and approach


Intelligent and appropriate use and analysis of empirical evidence


Well structured, valid, clear and well evidenced argument in presentation and/ or supporting documentation


Sustained, and appropriately selective reference to wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Confident and assured use of structure and presentation conventions


Strong independent, imaginative, reflective view



Topic well developed with a clear focus


Competent critical/ theoretical approach


Good use and analysis of empirical evidence


Largely well structured, valid, clear and well evidenced argument


Considered and selective reference to wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Clear use of structure and presentation conventions


Some independent, imaginative, reflective view


50 – 59

Topic adequately developed with some appropriate focus


Adequate critical’ theoretical approach


Adequate use of empirical evidence


Some inadequacies evident in the argument presented


Some awareness of wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Appropriate use of structure and presentation conventions


Little independent, imaginative, reflective view


40 – 49

Topic poorly developed and inadequately addressed


Weak critical/ theoretical approach


Little use of empirical evidence


Clear inadequacies evident in the argument presented


Little awareness of wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Adequate use of structure and presentation conventions


No independent, imaginative, reflective view



Topic not developed and poorly addressed


Very weak critical/ theoretical approach


Little or no use of empirical evidence, over used or unacknowledged quotations


Argument barely evident


Poor awareness of wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Poor use of structure and presentation conventions




< 35

Topic not addressed or developed


Absence of critical/ theoretical approach


No use of empirical evidence


No argument evident.


Inadequate awareness of wider critical/ theoretical/ commercial context


Inadequate use of structure and presentation conventions, inadequate length.




Outright fail















What assessment type is most suitable?

The matrix below, adapted from Nightingale, P., Te Wiata, I.T., Toohey, S., Ryan, G., Hughes, C., Magin, D. (1996), outlines some assessment types and the learning outcomes each may be most appropriate for. The matrix – incorporating the table below and one designed by Annie Crook, University of Oxford, which may be useful in evaluating which assessment type may best assess a skillset. It should be noted, the matrix is to be used as a guide but learning outcomes may vary within a particular subject area.    

Learning Outcome

Example of skills assessed

Thinking critically and making judgments

Developing arguments, reflecting,  evaluating, assessing, judging

Solving problems and developing plans

Identifying problems, posing problems, defining problems, analysing data,  reviewing, designing experiments, planning, applying information

Performing procedures and demonstrating Techniques

Computation, taking readings, using equipment, following laboratory procedures, following protocols, carrying out instructions

Managing and developing yourself 

Working co-operatively, working independently, learning independently, being self-directed, managing time, managing tasks, organising

Accessing and managing information

Researching, investigating, interpreting, organising information, reviewing and paraphrasing information, collecting data, searching and managing information sources, observing and interpreting

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding

Recalling, describing, reporting, recounting, recognising, 
identifying, relating and interrelating


One and two-way communication, communication 
within a group, verbal, written and non-verbal communication. Arguing, describing, interviewing, negotiating, presenting



Type of Assessment

What’s involved?

Skills assessed



Students write an abstract of a research paper/article within a specified word limit e.g. 300–500 words.

Thinking critically and making judgments


Active exam


An exam which requires students to actively engage with something, like read an article, analyse and interpret data etc.

Solving problems and developing plans 

Thinking critically and making judgments


Articles for different audiences


Students write on a particular topic(s) to an agreed length in a specific style e.g. a journal, newspaper or magazine.

Thinking critically and making judgments 


Managing and developing yourself  

Assessment stations

Practical / Written

Developed in medicine, students move around a series of testing stations being assessed on a number of learning outcomes, each for a fixed period of time. Useful to assess a wide range of skills and knowledge.

Performing procedures and demonstrating techniques

Solving problems and developing plans 


Book , website, journal article or programme review

Written / Oral

Students write an account or present an oral presentation on designated articles or other programmes e.g. TV/radio. These often include an evaluative element to demonstrate depth of reading and level of understanding in concise formats.

Thinking critically and making judgments 


Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 


Designing, creating, performing 

Case studies / Care plans

Written / Oral / Problem-based / Practical

Students work through a case study/care plan to identify the problem(s) and to offer potential solutions; useful for assessing students’ understanding and for encouraging them to see links between theory and practice. Case studies could be provided in advance of a time-constrained assessment.

Solving problems and developing plans 

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Concept maps


Written / Oral

Students map out their understanding of a particular concept. This is a useful (and potentially quick) exercise to provide feedback to staff on students’ understanding.

Designing, creating, performing 

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Critical incident accounts / Journals /Blogs


Written / Work placements

Students working on placements keep diaries, journals or blogs in which they record their experiences. They can be asked to write about a critical incident in terms of context, what happened, the outcomes, how theoretical material they have learnt underpins the process and how they would do things differently in future.

Managing and developing yourself  

Designing, creating, performing 



Designing learning materials

Written / Oral

Students prepare a learning package for a particular audience e.g. members of the public, school children etc. on a specified or agreed topic.

Designing, creating, performing 




Potential for sampling a wide range of practical, analytical and interpretative skills and to assess a broad application of knowledge, understanding and skills to other situations

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 




Students write an essay on specified or agreed topics within given parameters e.g. word count, use of different literature sources etc.

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Field report

Written / Oral

Students produce a written/oral report relating to a field/site visit.

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Grant application


Students use real/adapted versions of different grant application forms to plan a research project. This could be assessed using the published criteria as a basis for the marking criteria.

Solving problems and developing plans 

Instant reports

Practical / Written

Students submit a report as they leave the lab. Could be used with predesigned pro-forma to speed-up marking and feedback provision.

Performing procedures and demonstrating Techniques

In-tray exercises

Written / Oral

Students are provided with an initial dossier of papers to read, prioritise and work on, with a variety of tasks and new information given at intervals throughout the period of assessment. This simulates real practice where unknown elements and irrelevancies are often encountered.

Accessing and managing information 

Laboratory books/ Reports

Practical / Written

Students write a report for all (or a designated sample) of a practical in a single lab book. Students are informed that a sample of lab books will be collected each week to mark any reports of labs completed in previous weeks; this encourages them to keep lab books up to date. Each student should be sampled the same number of times throughout the module with a designated number contributing to the assessment mark.

Performing procedures and demonstrating Techniques

Learning logs

Written / Work Placements / Practical

Students check off lists of activities and outcomes during a period of learning. For example, they could be asked to indicate competencies which they have practised to a specific level during a work placement.

Managing and developing yourself  

Make or design something

Practical / Written

Students make or design something, e.g. radio broadcast, video clip, web page etc; useful as a group work exercise.

Designing, creating, performing 

Media profile

Practical / Written / Oral / Performance / Problem-based

Students use pictures or headlines from newspapers and magazines to illustrate the public perception/profile of a particular aspect of a subject area; useful as a group work exercise.


Solving problems and developing plans 


Practical / Written

A series of mini practical sessions conducted under timed conditions which creates potential for assessing a wide range of practical, analytical and interpretative skills.

Designing, creating, performing 

Multiple choice questions (MCQs)


Can be useful for diagnostic, formative assessment, in addition to summative assessment. Well-designed questions can assess more than factual recall of information but take time to design.

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 


Practical / Oral / Performance

Students are observed whilst undertaking a ‘performance’. This is commonly used in teaching classroom practice and laboratory work.

Thinking critically and making judgments 


Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Online discussion boards


Students contribute to an online discussion for example, with their peers; this could be hosted on a virtual learning environment (VLE).


Open book exams


Students use any or specified resources to help them answer set questions under time constraints. This method removes the over-reliance on memory and recall and models the way that professionals manage information.

Accessing and managing information 

Oral presentations

Oral / Written

Students give an oral presentation on a particular topic for a specified length of time and could also prepare associated handout(s). Can usefully be combined with self- and peer-assessment.


Designing, creating, performing 

Part-written practical reports

Practical / Written

Lab sheets given to students provide some of the write-up in full but leave sections such as error analysis, theoretical explanation etc. for the students to complete.

Performing procedures and demonstrating Techniques

Patchwork texts

Written / Problem-based

Students write a number of small pieces of work (‘patches’), which they then have to later ‘stitch’ together in a reflective commentary. The patches and the tasks upon which they are based are discrete and complete entities in their own right, but they can help contribute to a holistic understanding of the module content.

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 


Practical / Oral / Written

Students are required to give some form of performance, e.g. concert, play, dance, etc.

Designing, creating, performing 


Practical / Written / Oral

Students produce a poster (either ‘real size or as a PowerPoint file) on a particular topic. Can be used individually or in groups to assess a range of activities.

Designing, creating, performing 


Problem sheets


Students complete problem sheets, e.g. on a weekly basis. This can be a useful way of providing regular formative feedback on students’ work and/or involving elements of self- and peer assessment.

Solving problems and developing plans 

Question banks


Students are assessed on their ability to produce a certain number of questions on a topic. This helps students to recognise what they do and do not understand about a topic and is a useful way for staff to collate a question bank that could be used for quick formative quizzes throughout the module.

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Reflective diaries

Written / Work placements /


Students record their learning over a period of time, interspersing narrative with a reflective commentary which could support the development of an action plan.

Managing and developing yourself  

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Research projects / Group projects

Written / Practical / Oral /

Performance / Problem-based / Work placement

Potential for sampling wide range of practical, analytical and interpretative skills. Can assess wide application of knowledge, understanding and skills.


Designing, creating, performing 

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Role play

Written / Oral / Performance

Students write or give a presentation taking on a particular role, e.g. a journal reviewer/editor, consultant, art critic etc. This type of assignment could be paired up with a grant application exercise.

Designing, creating, performing 


Seen exams


Students answer questions in a time-constrained context in advance. Alternatively, the examination topics may be released in advance, but the precise questions are unseen until the exam.

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Selective reports / Sampling reports

Practical / Written

Students either write up specific sections of a report each week, e.g. methods section or results section. Alternatively, students write practical reports in full but they are told in advance that only a percentage of the reports will be assessed.

Performing procedures and demonstrating Techniques

Thinking critically and making judgments 

Short answer questions


Useful to assess a wide range of knowledge/skills across a module.

Accessing and managing information 

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 


Practical / Written / Oral /


Text or virtual computer-based simulations are provided for students who are required to answer questions, resolve problems, perform tasks and take actions etc. according to changing circumstances within the simulation.

Solving problems and developing plans 

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Wiki / Blogs


Students keep an individual blog, e.g. to record their progress on a project, or a wiki; could be used as part of a group project exercise.

Designing, creating, performing 


Viva voce


Often used for assessing ‘borderline’ degree classifications but also useful to explore students’ understanding of a wide range of topics. Depending on class size however, they can be time consuming for staff.

Demonstrating knowledge and understanding 

Academic Integrity

What is Academic Integrity?
Academic integrity reflects a shared set of principles which include honesty, trust, diligence, fairness and respect and is about maintaining the integrity of a student’s work and their award. Academic integrity is based on the ethos that how you learn is as important as what you learn.

Academic integrity is based upon several core principles. For students, as part of the Student Charter, this means they must take joint responsibility for ensuring they meet integrity aims.

Academic misconduct includes plagiarism; collusion; breach of examination regulations; fabrication of data; impersonation of others or the commissioning of work for assessment (this list is not exhaustive).

More information is available from the University’s Academic Misconduct Policy.

How can I design my assessments to support students in their academic integrity?It is important individual staff, Schools, Colleges and the University do as much as possible to ensure students are knowledgeable about the principles which guide academic integrity.

The list below, by Carroll (2002), was adapted by the University of Tasmania (2018), and outlines some ideas to tackle potential academic integrity issues:

  • Change the content or type of assessment task often (e.g., from year to year).
  • Use tasks that require students to reflect, journalise, analyse, or evaluate.
  • Use tasks that require students to integrate / reflect / apply issues to their own context and experience or utilise current/recent events and ‘hot’ topics.
  • Ask students to submit evidence of their information gathering and planning or have staged assessment where students submit partially completed work prior to final submission.
  • Ask students to provide working drafts or incorporate a re-drafting process into the task itself.
  • Use tasks that are interdependent and build upon each other.
  • Tie in the classroom experience – for example:
    • including class discussions in assignments
    • using presentations in class
    • ask students to informally (or formally) report on their assessment work in class

In their ‘Re-evaluating assessment for academic integrity’ article, Morris (2018) outlines some effective practice approaches to promoting integrity amongst students. Predominately focusing on knowledge and assessment design, the article provides some useful tips on how colleagues can develop assessments which are engaging, challenging and promote academic integrity.
How can I support students with academic integrity?

To support students in understanding how they can best ensure they are producing work which meets academic integrity standards, the ‘Academic Success: Skills for Learning, skills for life‘ online course is available to complete.

Additionally, the University recommends doing a brief outline of academic integrity, during an assessment briefing session or lecture, to allow students an opportunity to answer any module-specific issues they may have.

How does TurnitIn assist with academic integrity?

Turnitin may be used as a learning tool for formative assessments only. Normally this should be restricted to students who have recently commenced their programme of study at Swansea. Where it is used as a learning tool guidance should be offered to students about the interpretation of originality report, with reference to any errors that the student may have made. Where the student is clearly struggling with the principles and practice of appropriate attribution of sources, it is recommended that they are referred to the subject librarian for specific guidance. Academics should also consider referring students to the Centre for Academic Success for more targeted support.

At which point in the marking process should I look at the originality report?

All assignments should be marked anonymously before any reference is made to the percentage match within the Similarity Index. If marking is being undertaken through Grademark, this information is made available to the marker at the time of marking, who may refer to and scrutinise the percentage match once marking is complete.

There is an optional facility which allows the user identification to be anonymous in Turnitin until after a set “post-date” (generally the post-date should be the date on which first marking is completed). If anonymity is used, then it is not possible to match a plagiarism report to a paper until after the set post-date. Exceptionally an instructor or administrator can reveal a report’s identity but will be required to give their identity, and reason for doing so, to provide an audit trail should it be needed later.

What is an acceptable level of similarity?

As noted above, the Turnitin database is not infallible.  It will only cross-reference submitted work against work already in its database, or work which it can access through collaborative agreements. Staff may also want to discuss their suspicions with colleagues or examine other sources if they suspect plagiarism, e.g. simple ‘Google’ searches may reveal relevant work.

Above all, it must be emphasised that the academic judgment of staff with the relevant subject expertise must be paramount in cases of alleged academic misconduct.

Examples of interpretation and further guidance can be found on the Turnitin User Group area of the Canvas platform.

Where Turnitin is being used as the main means of submission then Colleges must download the assignment documents by the end of each academic year. In-line with the Retention of Assessed Work Policy, electronic documents must be securely stored in the same way and for the same length of time as paper copies would be.


What is feedback?

Feedback forms an integral part of a student’s academic journey. Whether formative or summative, it provides students with guidance on how to develop their skills in an area.

“Assessment is the engine that drives learning. Feedback is the oil that lubricates the cogs of understanding” Race, P. (2006)

Feedback describes information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task which is used as a basis for improvement. With that in mind, feedback to students should be informative, supportive and facilitate a positive attitude to future learning. Feedback should be timely (see policies) and can take a wide variety of forms, for example verbal, written, audio or video, which allow for a more inclusive approach.  Feedback that links to learning outcomes, is dialogic and feeds forward to steer improvement is encouraged.

Useful guidance can be found in The Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE) ‘Transforming Teaching and Inspiring Learning’ document ‘The Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit’ (DEFT) (Winstone & Nash 2016).

Why is feedback important?

Whether summative or formative in nature, feedback plays an important part in the development of students – in both an academic and professional capacity.

Effective feedback can:

  1. Enable students to obtain the maximum educational benefit to learning. The majority of evidence from the feedback literature suggests that it is essential to provide meaningful, constructive feedback within a reasonable timescale and that it is important to use multiple methodologies to deliver the feedback.
  2. Be an integral part of the learning and assessment process. The most effective feedback aims to provide learners with information that enables them to identify what they have done well (and why) and highlight areas for improvement and further development. It is extremely beneficial to discuss with students themselves what form of feedback works best for them.

What is the role of formative feedback in the learning experience?

Formative feedback is provided to the student with regards to their progression towards a goal or standard and may (or may not) carry marks, but the principle purpose is developmental, rather than judgement. Assessment for judgement is termed ‘summative’ assessment, with its primary purpose being to measure the sum of the learning, often in the form of a traditional exam.

The problem could be considered that students receive too much feedback after learning, rather than during learning. Therefore, formative assessment is an essential feature of learning if students are to improve the next element of their work by adjusting in a progressive manner. This process can also be described by the phrase ‘feed-forward’.

What is my role in formative feedback?

If you are providing feedback to a student, it is important to recognise you are a facilitator to their academic and professional development. Therefore, your role is to provide effective developmental targets for our students through mechanisms such as developing their subject knowledge, personalising feedback to meet the individual learner and giving students time to respond to the feedback.

What role can the student play in formative feedback?

Providing formative feedback is important, but only part of the process. To ensure that developmental targets are ‘fed-forward’ the student must actively engage with their feedback, act on the feedback provided and self-assess their work.

One possible inclusive approach to feedback is through dialogic feedback.  

Dialogic feedback is currently playing an important role in areas such as Swansea University’s School of Healthcare Science where, for example, students are able to have face-to-face discussions, on practical elements of the course, with their lecturers.

What is dialogic feedback?

Dialogic feedback is an approach to providing feedback on assessment which engages the student in a conversation, rather than purely as a passive recipient. The approach requires the student to engage more fully with the assessment and feedback process, meaning that they should be part of the process in shaping an individual assessment and feedback solution which works for them.

This approach asks students to identify what they would specifically like feedback on and how effective they found it in their development.

Why should I use dialogic feedback?

‘Dialogic feedback suggests an interactive exchange in which interpretations are shared, meanings negotiated and expectations clarified’ (Carless, 2011)

Therefore, dialogic feedback can be viewed as a two-way communication process, where students and staff actively discuss an assessed piece of work and, through this dialogue, identify specific developmental areas based on exactly what the student wants to learn more about.

A report by Nottingham Trent University (2013) highlighted a case study, from University of Central Lancaster, where students were required to make one-to-one meetings with their module tutor to collect their assessments. Students were asked, by reviewing an assessment rubric, the mark they believed they had obtained. Reflecting on the assignment, students were asked to identify two or three keys areas they wanted feedback on and how they could improve their performance in these areas.

Dialogic feedback gives both the student and staff member the opportunity to engage in conversation around developing a specific skill-set. By focusing on identified areas, it can also enhance engagement – for both staff and students – as well as reduce the time required to provide feedback by focusing on specific areas of the assessed work.

It should be noted, dialogic feedback does not have to be face-to-face. Technological approaches – such as audio feedback – can be used and offer solutions to accessibility and inclusivity issues. You can view a Swansea University seminar, on Audio Feedback, which formed part of the 7 Characteristics of a Good University Teacher series. 

Additionally, Mulliner & Tucker (2015), when conducting research into the perceptions of feedback for students and academics, found academics ‘tended to believe their feedback was more useful, fair, understandable, constructive and encouraging and detailed in comparison to what students felt they were receiving.’ 

Therefore, understanding what feedback a student want, by engaging in dialogue with them, can not only benefit the student but provide colleagues with a useful guide on what feedback students want.

Are there support tools available to facilitate peer-moderated marking?

As detailed earlier, peer-moderated marking is based on the principle of students reviewing the work of their peers and, against a clearly defined assessment criteria, providing a mark for this work. Peer-moderated marking is predominantly used for formative assessment but, in certain scenarios, can play an important role in summative approaches. To assist with peer-moderated marking, the WebPA Peer Assessment Tool which facilitates peer moderated marking. As with Blackboard, the software will be fully integrated with the University’s new Canvas virtual learning environment.

 What are the benefits of peer-moderated marking?

There are several benefits for facilitating peer assessment, including:

  • Assigning one mark to a group of students for a project is inherently unfair. Students commonly complain that their contributions are not being given the credit they deserve, and group members who didn’t pull their weight receive the same marks as those who contributed far more.
  • It allows academics to better grade a student’s abilities against a range of key skills
  • Peer review prompts students to assess their own, and others, abilities

As detailed earlier, peer-moderated marking offers an engagement mechanism for students by encouraging them to understand what is required to achieve a particular standard. By understand assessment criteria, the student is able to reflect on both their work and the work of their peers, and use this process as both an academic and professional learning tool.

What is inclusive feedback?

Inclusive assessment and feedback is an approach which places the individual student experience at the heart of the process, by ensuring that when assessments are designed, the needs of all students are considered. The Equality Act 2010 places a legal obligation on institutions to ensure that assessment does not disadvantage any student.

The principles of universal or inclusive design will ensure that by keeping the needs of all students in mind, developing different assessment approaches which maximise inclusion can be beneficial to all students and therefore ease the burden on staff.

Inclusive assessment should not compromise a student’s ability to meet the learning outcomes, meaning that developing robust, fair and inclusive assessments is essential.

Guidance Resources, Further Reading and Directory of Effective Practice for Assessment and Feedback

The table below outlines some guidance resources, with regards to learning & teaching, and examples of effective practice. For more examples, you can visit Academic Quality’s Effective Practice Directory or SALT Conference Resources webpage.

Advance HE Transforming Teaching and Inspiring Learning – Engaged Student Learning

A guide on High-impact strategies to enhance student achievement:

Assessment Essentials – Sheffield Hallam

An Assessment Toolkit with effective practice covering the full assessment cycle:

SALT: Clear assessment and the Importance of Assessment

SALT guidance on how to create clarity, for students, around assessment and it’s criteria:  

Authentic Assessment

Teaching in Education video guide to using Authentic Assessment approaches:

Swansea University Law School example of authentic assessment:

Alternative Assessment

Swansea University guide to alternative assessment arrangements:  

Assessment Moderation – Toolkit

University of South Australia Assessment Moderation Toolkit for effective practice:

Academic Integrity

Swansea University guide to academic misconduct procedure:

Dialogic Feedback

Swansea University SALT guidance on effective practice for dialogic feedback:


HEA Guide to developing engagement with Feedback:

Swansea University effective practice examples for feedback:

Audio Feedback

University of Manchester ‘Quick Tips’ for recording audio feedback:

SALT guidance on utilising audio feedback:  


SALT guidance on Turnitin Feedback Studio:


SALT guidance on ‘Explaining assessments to students’:

SALT Conference 2019 – Rubric or Not to Rubric?

Assessment Design

Swansea University Academic Quality guidance on ‘Designing a new Programme’:

SALT guidance on using ABC approach to learning design:

Bradford University Programme Assessment Tool

University of Bradford Programme Assessment Strategies toolkit:

Brunel University Programme Assessment Tool

Brunel University Programme Assessment Toolkit:

UK Quality code for Higher Education – Advice and Guidance: Assessment

The UKSCQA guidance to effective practice in assessments:

Leeds Beckett University – Inclusive Teaching & Assessment Practice

A guide to effective practices relating to inclusivity in Teaching & Assessment:

SAGE Journals – Large Class Teaching: moderating large volumes of assessment

A journal, from Jaclyn Broadbent (2017), outlining effective approaches to moderating for large volume assessments:

Peer Assessment

Swansea University SALT resources for effective practice in peer assessment:

Web PA for Group work 

Swansea University’s Toolkit for facilitating peer assessments for students:

‘What can be done about degree algorithm variations?’ Allen, D (2020)

WonkHE blog on approaches to ensure consistency in degree outcomes:

Feedback on feedback practice: perceptions of students and academics’ Mulliner & Tucker (2015)

Journal focusing on the perceptions of feedback practices in Higher Education

Accessible Assessments: Staff Guide to Inclusive Practice. Freewood, M. (2003),

Sheffield Hallam online support tool for inclusive practices in Higher Education

SCIPS (Strategies for Creating Inclusive Programmes of Study)

University of Worcester online resources for delivering for students with disability:

‘Minimising plagiarism and cheating’ University of Tasmania (2018)

Online resources adapted from Carroll, J. (2002) on how to tackle plagiarism through the teaching of academic integrity

‘Rigour in moderation processes is more important than the choice of method’ (Zahra, 2016)

Journal outlining effective practice approaches to moderation of assessment:


Policies & Legislation

Swansea University has a range of policies relevant to assessment, marking and feedback. The University’s regulations and policies are aligned with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education published by the Quality Assurance Agency, which is the body that monitors and advises institutions on standards and quality.

All Assessment and Feedback related policies can be accessed via the expanding menu via the ‘Assessment and Progress’ heading on the page below.

Feedback and Assessment Policy

Swansea University Assessment and Progress Polices

Equality Act (2010)


UK Quality Code for Higher Education – Advice and Guidance: Assessments (

Glasgow University – Programme Re-design Guidance:

Crook, A – An A-Z of Assessment Methods:

Pedagogy and Principles

University College, London – Teaching Toolkits: publications&meta_UclOrgUnit=%22VP%3A+Education%22&

Higher Education Academy Assessment Audit Tool:

Higher Education Academy – A Marked Improvement (Transforming Assessment in Higher Education):

HEA Centre for Bioscience Assessment Briefing (2009)

Race, P, Brown, S and Smith, B (2005) 500 Tips on Assessment (2nd edition), London: Routledge

SAILS Inclusivity Academy:

University of Arts, London – Assessment & Feedback Teaching and Learning Resource:

Mayne, W –   ‘Come design with me: Student Engagement in Curriculum Design & Development’:

Nightingale, P., Te Wiata, I.T., Toohey, S., Ryan, G., Hughes, C., Magin, D. (1996) ‘Assessing Learning in Universities’ Professional Development Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Brown, S., Rust, C., Gibbs, G. (1994) ‘Strategies for Diversifying Assessment’ Oxford Centre for Staff Development, UK.

RACE, P., (2006). The Lecturers Toolkit: A practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching. Oxon: Routledge.

Sambell, K., McDowell, L., & Montgomery, C. (2013). Assessment for Learning in Higher Education.

Biggs, J and Tang, C. (2011) ‘Teaching for Quality Learning at University’, 4th Edition, Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Race, P. Brown, S. and Smith, B. (2005) ‘500 Tips on assessment: 2nd edition’. London: Routledge.

Allen, D (2020) ‘What can be done about degree algorithm variations?’. WonkHE.

Newcastle University (2020) ‘Designing assessment and feedback – Learning & Development’.

Morris, E (2018) ‘Re-evaluating assessment for academic integrity’. Advance HE.

Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang. M. and Lam, J., (2011) ‘Developing sustainable feedback practices’. Studies in Higher Education, 36(4), 395-407.

Mulliner, E. & Tucker, M. (2017) ‘Feedback on feedback practice: perceptions of students and academics’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:2, 266-288.

Leslie, L., & Gorman, P. (2017) ‘Collaborative design of assessment criteria to improve undergraduate student engagement and performance’. European Journal of Engineering Education, 42(3), 286-30

Carroll, J. (2002). A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

Gulikers, J., Bastiaens, T., & Kirschner, P. (2004). ‘A five-­­dimensional framework for authentic assessment’. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52 (3), 67-­­85.

Harden, R., Lilley, P. and Patricio, M (2016) ‘The definitive guide to the OSCE’. Elsevier.


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