Purpose of policy
This policy is intended to enunciate principles within a standards framework that informs assessment of students’ learning within courses and coursework programs.
Application of policy
This policy applies to all staff, students and members of University decision-making or advisory bodies.
Please refer to the University’s Glossary of terms for policy and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to this policy and are critical to the effectiveness of it:
Moderation is a rigorous quality review and assurance process to confirm or modifies the task’s fitness for purpose, the consistency of the marker’s judgements and the validity, reliability and fairness of the outcome and ultimately ensures academic standards are met.
1. What is meant by assessment?
1.1 Assessment means the purposeful and systematic processes of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence produced by students to enable informed and consistent judgements to be made about their learning.
1.2 These processes serve a range of purposes, including:
a) advancement of the student’s learning
b) evaluation of the student’s knowledge, understanding, abilities or skills, and
c) identification and recording of a summary level of attainment reached at the end of each course, usually in the form of a mark or result or grade, that establishes the extent to which the student has met the required academic standards set by the University and any external bodies such as professional registration authorities
1.3 Assessment is primarily formative or summative:
a) Formative assessment is designed to identify, for both the student and assessor, the student’s strengths, and any potential gaps in the knowledge, understanding and skills expected for successful completion of a course; to assist students to learn more effectively, for example, through provision of feedback on the student’s performance and advice as to how it can be improved or maintained; and to inform teaching decisions in the next phase of learning.
b) Summative assessment is designed to indicate the extent of a student’s success in achieving specified learning outcomes for a course or coursework program; and it contributes to the student’s final grade in a course or the final grade for the coursework program as a whole.
2. Institutional framework for assessment
2.1 The Academic Board of the University will develop and implement effective operational policy or procedures for:
a) the design, documentation, approval, monitoring and review of assessment strategies for courses and coursework programs, and
b) ensuring that the assessment strategies and academic standards set for each course are appropriate for a course in a program at a specific level; are appropriate for the program as a whole, meet any requirements or standards specified by a relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body, and serve a s fixed points against which student performance is judged, and
c) ensuring that assessment promotes effective learning while maintaining academic standards.
2.2 The University will have clear requirements for qualifying for admission to an award of the University, and will make these publicly available.
2.3 The University will provide all members of teaching and research staff, including sessional teaching staff, with opportunities for staff development in assessment, including in those approaches and processes identified in the higher education literature or judged by higher education quality assurance agencies as being models of good practice.
2.4 Executive Deans and Heads of School will ensure that:
a) everyone involved in assessment within a course or coursework program, including any student peer assessors, are competent to undertake the assigned role and responsibility, and
b) all staff and external moderators involved in assessment are made aware of all relevant University policies, procedures and guidelines that pertain to assessment.
2.5 The University will have effective, clear and consistent requirements and guidelines for the membership, procedures, powers and accountabilities for assessment results’ moderation, verification and ratification, and make these publicly available.
2.6 The University will implement processes that ensure that assessment decisions are properly documented and that students are advised of the outcomes as quickly as possible and within reasonable timeframes.
2.7 The Academic Board will periodically review assessment policy, procedures to ensure that these remain fit for their purpose.
2.8 The Academic Board will periodically monitor and audit assessment practices to determine consistency and/or compliance with university policy and procedures.
3. Principles informing assessment
The following principles will inform assessment within courses and coursework programs at the University of the Sunshine Coast:
a) assessment engages students in learning
b) assessment provides high quality feedback to students on their performance and gives students an opportunity to actively improve their learning
c) assessment results are an inclusive and trustworthy representation of student achievement of academic standards
d) Institutional graduate attributes, program and course learning outcomes are aligned with learning activities, assessment products and related performance standards
e) summative assessment is a valid, fair and reliable measure of specified learning outcomes and is moderated to ensure consistent and appropriate judgements
f) assessment is designed to meet students' current and (so far as possible) future learning need, and
g) formative and summative assessment information is used by teachers to improve student learning and engagement
4. Records management
Effective systems will be in place for record-keeping and records management in relation to all assessment.