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Generic assessment criteria

Assessment and feedback are critical drivers of student learning. They deeply affect the quality of student-teacher interaction and are the main areas of dissatisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS) across the higher education sector.

BU’s Generic Assessment Criteria provides a framework to which academics mark and provide feedback on student work. But the tone and language of the original criteria was outdated, as they focused too much on deficits rather than strengths.

Together with colleagues from BU faculties, the students’ union, and Academic Quality (AQ), BU’s Anne Quinney has led a review and redesign of this framework, which has now been implemented for the 2016-17 academic year.

Anne, the FLIE theme leader for Innovative pedagogies, assessment and feedback, said: “The focus on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning through effective feedback and feedforward are important steps forward and will help to equip students with more information about how to go about developing further their academic and professional skills.”

The group agreed a set of principles for assessment and feedback, including:

  • Table format for greater clarity and easier comparison between grade bands
  • Neutral language
  • Refer to ‘the work’ not ‘the student’
  • Feed-forward statements, which help the student understand how to develop their academic skills
  • Develop a common language for each grade band  - ‘outstanding’ for high first, ‘excellent’ for first, ‘very good’ for upper second

The revised criteria are designed to be used by staff, students and external examiners.

Students will be able to more clearly understand the rationale for the mark/grade awarded and to have clearer expectations of how to improve future work. For External Examiners, the revised criteria clearly set out the institutional standards and expectations.