Policy

Assessment - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this policy is to establish key principles and values relating to assessment at The University of Queensland.  It is intended to be read in conjunction with a number of procedures, including PPL 3.10.02b Assessment - Procedures.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Criterion – a property or characteristic by which the quality of something may be judged.

Standard – a definite level of achievement aspired to or attained. Standards specify levels of quality (or achievement, or performance) for each criterion.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all students enrolled in, and all staff involved in the delivery of, undergraduate and postgraduate courses at The University of Queensland.

Details of the University's assessment policies in relation to research higher degree candidates are found in the PPL under section 4.60.

4. Policy Statement

Assessment is making judgements about how students’ work meets appropriate standards and drawing inferences from these judgements about students’ attainment of learning outcomes. At The University of Queensland assessment is used to achieve the following purposes:

  • engage students in productive learning;
  • inform teaching and learning decision-making;
  • provide evidence of course- and program-level learning outcomes and graduate attributes;
  • provide comprehensive, accurate, consistent and dependable certification of student achievement; and
  • maintain professional and disciplinary standards. 

The University is committed to the provision of high quality, innovative and engaging assessment practices according to the following principles: 

Assessment is a developmental learning activity: The assessment process engages students in worthwhile learning activities and develops their capacity to make independent judgements about the quality of their own and others’ work. 

Assessment involves mutual responsibility: Teachers have a responsibility to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate learning through appropriate assessment tasks and to support learning through effective feedback, as well as to orient students new to university study to university assessment methods and standards; students have a responsibility to demonstrate evidence of learning through their responses to assessment tasks and to reflect and act on feedback to improve their learning. 

Assessment is criterion-referenced: Judgements about the quality of students’ performance are made by reference to explicit or predetermined criteria and standards and not by reference to the achievement of other students. 

Assessment is transparent: Students and teachers can see that there is an explicit and logical relationship among assessment tasks; learning objectives; the criteria used as the basis of assessment judgements; and the grades associated with different levels or standards of performance. 

Assessment is credible: Assessment measures what teachers intend it to and provides a consistent or dependable indication of the quality of students’ performance. 

Assessment is fair and equitable: The content, format and conduct of assessment are designed to ensure that no individuals or groups of students are unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged. 

Assessment is a purposeful, professional activity: Assessment is integral to course and program design, review and evaluation. There is: quality assurance of assessment at program- and course-level, and within schools and faculties; collaboration with colleagues to provide the whole-of-program approaches that make assessment a coherent experience for students; and ongoing revision and enhancement of assessment practices. 

Assessment is sustainable and workable: Assessment is conducted within the provisions of current resourcing and is achievable for teachers and students with reasonable effort. 

The design and conduct of assessment according to these principles requires effective collaboration between a number of stakeholders associated with teaching and learning including members of academic and professional staff across the University.

 

Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson

Procedures

Assessment - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 3.10.02 Assessment Policy.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Academic integrity - the moral code or ethical policy of academia. This includes values such as avoidance of cheating or plagiarism; maintenance of academic standards; honesty and rigour in research and academic publishing.

Criterion – a property or characteristic by which the quality of something may be judged.

Hurdle requirement– an assessment component that must be satisfied in order to pass the course.

Moderation – a process for developing consistency or comparability of assessment judgements and applies in a range of assessment contexts.

Standard – a definite level of achievement aspired to or attained. Standards specify levels of quality (or achievement, or performance) for each criterion.

Study period – a semester, trimester, research quarter, or teaching period.

Summative assessment – assessment for the making of judgements about student learning.

3. Procedures Scope

These procedures apply to all students enrolled in, and all staff, with teaching responsibility for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

4.1 Design of assessment

4.1.1 Program-level considerations

Assessment provides systematic opportunities for students to demonstrate progress towards or achievement of program level learning outcomes, including development of graduate attributes and professional standards, where appropriate.

Assessment is mapped against program level outcomes; in the case of programs with multiple pathways, mapping is based on core courses. This is monitored through the Academic Program Review process (see section 4.6).

Where feasible, course assessment takes into account the demands (including weighting and scheduling) of assessment in parallel courses within the program.

4.1.2 Course-level considerations

Assessment is designed to maintain high standards and generate credible evidence of learning through:

  • the use of criterion-referenced assessment which makes explicit the relationships among assessment tasks; all learning objectives; the criteria used as the basis of assessment judgements; and, the grades associated with different levels or standards of performance;
     
  • a focus on the quality of learning outcomes (e.g. the quality of tutorial participation or contribution to a group outcome). Mere attendance (as distinct from attendance and participation) must not be a requirement to pass the course;
     
  • the use of a combination of two or more assessment tasks (or a multi-component, staged task such as a thesis or a project) which reflect the range and complexity of the learning objectives, with assessment tasks spread appropriately across the teaching period (see section 4.4.1).  No single assessment task (or task component) contributes more than 70% to the final grade;
     
  • the demands of the combined assessment tasks in a course being commensurate with its nominal unit value; and the relative weightings of tasks within a course being commensurate with the relative importance of the associated learning objectives; and
     
  • unless it is a hurdle requirement, assessment providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate a range of competencies in learning from minimum learning standards to learning of the highest standard.

Assessment is also designed in accordance with the availability of and appropriate allocation of resources for the course.

4.1.3 Reasonable adjustments to assessment

A reasonable adjustment or change to assessment may be made in specified circumstances to ensure all students are able to participate equitably in the academic life of the University see PPL 3.50.06 Academic Adjustments.

Adjustments are only made when the student has formal approval and the adjustment retains the essential learning objectives for the course or program.

4.2 Communication of assessment requirements

4.2.1 Provision of assessment information

The course profile for each course must include or specify the location of all required information about assessment for that course.

Assessment criteria and standards for each assessment task must be made available to students at the same time as the description of the assessment task.

4.2.2 Consistency in information

Where more than one tutor/lecturer is involved in providing information to students about assessment requirements, consistent information is provided.

4.2.3 Student engagement with assessment information

Teaching staff provide opportunities for students to engage with information about assessment including:

  • criteria and standards;
  • examination formats as provided in past or sample examination papers PPL 3.10.08  Release of Examination Papers; and 
  • students’ responsibilities in relation to assessment policies (e.g., on late submission of assessment) as listed in the course profile and in related rules and policies.

Students take responsibility for accessing and understanding the assessment information that is provided (see the Student Charter).

4.3 Academic Integrity

4.3.1 Student integrity

Teaching staff:

Students:

  • take responsibility for maintaining high standards of academic integrity (see the Student Charter);
  • complete the compulsory Academic Integrity (online module) tutorial; and
  • in submitting assessment, acknowledge that the work submitted is their own work. This acknowledgement may be reinforced by the requirement to complete a declaration of originality.

4.3.2 Examination and assessment integrity

In designing and conducting assessment, teaching staff give due regard to assessment integrity and security, minimising the possibility of impersonation and cheating.

The presumption is that assessment and examinations are the work of the student and this presumption may be reinforced by the requirement for the student to complete a declaration of originality.

Electronic submission of assignments is encouraged to provide authoritative proof of the date and time of submission and to allow for text matching including the use of plagiarism detection software.

Any form of summative assessment that takes place in a supervised environment at an approved university location and is the work of a single student and for which authentication of the student’s identity is required complies with a set of examination requirements as outlined in PPL 3.10.11b Examinations – Procedures.

Insofar as repetition of previously used assessment items (eg, examination papers or essay topics) risks the integrity of the assessment process and outcomes, assessment tasks must be substantially different at each offering. For example, in a multiple choice examination, 80% of the questions would differ at each offering.

Any student who enrols in a course must not be given exemption or partial credit from their previous attempt(s) for any individual piece of assessment. Instead, the student must successfully complete all of the learning activities and assessment items within the study period of enrolment.

4.4 Provision of feedback on assessment

4.4.1 Feedback for learning

Feedback is provided or is available on all assessment tasks, including examinations.

The timing of feedback enables feedback to be applied to further tasks within the course or program.

The form of feedback provided is appropriate to the task and context with reference to criteria and standards.

In the case of end of semester examinations, once results have been finalised, students are, on request, given:

  • an opportunity to peruse, under supervision, the examination question paper and their own answers; and
  • the marking scheme or model answers used to allocate marks or grades, or other forms of feedback from the examiner.

4.4.2 Student responsibility

Teaching staff advise students of their responsibility to incorporate feedback into their learning.

Students take responsibility for incorporating feedback into their learning (see the Student Charter).

4.5 Assessment judgements and finalisation of grades

4.5.1 The basis of judgements

Assessment judgements:

  • are made with reference to criteria and standards and not to the achievement of other students;
  • reflect the quality of the student’s performance (eg, the quality of tutorial contribution not tutorial attendance); and
  • are transparent; Negative marking in multiple choice examinations, that is, the practice of deducting marks for providing incorrect answers or formula marking to correct for guessing, is not permitted.

4.5.2 Moderation

Moderation is an important part of quality assurance.

The minimum requirement is that moderation is conducted with reference to criteria and standards to ensure consistency of judgements about the work of:

  • students within a course/group;
  • students in different classes/groups within a single course; and
  • students whose work has been peer-assessed or self-assessed within a course.

Moderation within a course may involve discussion of the way the standards have been applied to assessed work, and/or review of the application of standards prior to marking.

Moderation between students taking the same course in different semesters or years is also an important part of quality assurance processes as outlined in 4.6.

4.5.3 Avoidance of bias and conflicts of interest

Anonymous marking is undertaken where appropriate and practicable.

When a near relative or close associate is enrolled in a course for which a staff member is involved in the assessment:

  • The staff member should not participate in the marking of assessment or the determination of a final result and must inform their supervisor (e.g. head of school, executive dean) of the potential conflict at the earliest opportunity.
  • The supervisor should determine arrangements for assessment including setting examination questions, marking assessment, and the roles of other staff members involved in the course; an external examiner may be necessary in some cases. If any doubt exists, the supervisor should contact the President of the Academic Board.

4.5.4 Documentation of assessment judgements

To ensure the integrity of assessment and to enhance feedback on assessment, clear records are kept of assessment and/or the evaluation of assessment, including when the work does not generate evidence that can be referred to after the assessment. For example, for assessment in the form of a presentation, a supervised placement, or an oral assessment, two markers are used, or the presentation is recorded, or clear records are kept of performance against the criteria and standards.

4.5.5 The method of representing and aggregating results

Percentages, marks, weighted grades, verbal descriptors, or letter codes are used to represent students' levels of achievement on assessment items.

The aggregation of the results of individual tasks to determine a course grade is a deliberate process that is readily defensible and final grades are determined in accordance with grade descriptions as set in the University's grading system in PPL 3.10.07b Grading System – Procedures.

The method of weighting and aggregating individual pieces of assessment, the use of any hurdle requirements, and the method used to determine a final grade is made explicit in the course profile. Profiling of grades, use of weighted grades, or weighted marks and percentages may be used provided that details (including any cut-offs) are published in the course profile. Ad hoc variations are not made without the approval of the Associate Dean (Academic) in consultation with the Academic Registrar.

Deducting marks for failure to undertake a specified task that is not part of the summative assessment is not permitted.

4.5.6 Provision of results

University procedures are followed with respect to:

  • Finalisation of results, as set out in the General Award Rules (Part 1A - Assessment);
  • Communication of results to students on mySI-net. Where schools and faculties post marks on noticeboards including electronic noticeboards, for privacy reasons, individual results are listed by student number only; and
  • Record keeping –
    1. Schools keep appropriate records of all assessment results.
    2. Unless authorised by the President of the Academic Board, completed examination scripts and uncollected student assignments are retained for a minimum of 12 months from the date of certification of results by the appropriate certifying authority in accordance with University policy PPL 3.10.08 Release of Examination Papers.

4.5.7 Avenues for review of assessment judgements and final results

Under specific conditions outlined in PPL 3.10.10b Assessment Re-mark – Procedures, students may apply for reconsideration of a mark or grade awarded for an item of assessment.

Eligible students may be awarded supplementary assessment as set out in General Award Rules (Part 1A - Assessment) and PPL 3.10.09b – Supplementary Assessment – Procedures.

Students may also pursue assessment-related grievances in accordance with the Student Grievance Resolution Policy.

4.6 Quality assurance and quality enhancement

4.6.1 Monitoring of the effectiveness of assessment

Evidence of assessment outcomes and the effectiveness of assessment is collected and monitored to quality assure course-level and program-level considerations (see 4.1.1 and 4.1.2).

In addition:

  • students are provided with the opportunity to evaluate the quality of teaching, courses and programs, including assessment, and students are expected to provide fair and honest feedback on the quality of teaching, courses and programs, including assessment (the Student Charter); and 
  • data on assessment outcomes and the effectiveness of assessment are collected from other sources (eg, peer reviews, professional accreditation processes, audits).

Course coordinators make available to faculty and school, on request:

  • the final component marks and/or grades in the course for all students; and
  • the distribution of grades in the course and the process used to determine grade boundaries.

4.6.2 Program-level considerations

4.6.2.1 Academic Program Reviews

Assessment practices at the program level are monitored systematically through the 5-yearly Academic Program Review (APR) process which requires each program and sequence of study to be reviewed inter alia in terms of assessment.

Assessment at the program-level must be consistent with best practice guidelines:

  • Assessment tasks, when viewed across a program are selected, timed, sequenced and weighted in ways that promote achievement of the program's desired learning outcomes and development of the University's graduate attributes.
  • There should be evidence of various forms of assessment in the program; tailoring of assessment to year-level; and opportunity for the development of independent judgement.

Program Directors respond to the outcomes of the APR process in ways that enhance assessment and assessment outcomes for the program.

4.6.3 Course-level considerations

4.6.3.1 Course evaluations and Curriculum and Teaching Quality and Risk Appraisal (CTQRA)

Assessment practices at the school level are monitored on a semester-by-semester basis through review of assessment outcomes, course evaluations (SECaTS) and course grades.

Each time a course is offered, students enrolled in that course are invited to evaluate their course using one of the instruments in the SECaT. Course evaluations include the items: assessment requirements were made clear to me and I received helpful feedback on how I was going in the course.

The annual Curriculum and Teaching Quality and Risk Appraisal (CTQRA) process requires evidence-based reflection on the overall quality of the school's teaching. This includes review of student satisfaction for undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered by the school, including review of responses to the SECAT items: assessment requirements were made clear to me and I received helpful feedback on how I was going in the course and student success (eg, pass rates, completions and grade distributions).

Teaching staff respond to student performance on assessment, student evaluations of assessment and reviews of assessment and assessment outcomes (including student grades) in ways that enhance assessment and assessment outcomes for their course.

4.6.4 Chief examiners

Chief examiners play an important role in ensuring quality assurance in summative assessment PPL 3.30.01 Teaching and Learning Roles and Responsibilities.

It is mandatory that heads of schools appoint an academic staff member as chief examiner for a school, discipline or a program, as appropriate.

Chief examiners report to the Head of School, and in consultation with the School Teaching and Learning Committee, ensure:

  • school compliance with University rules, policies and procedures related to assessment; and
  • that appropriate records of all assessment results, and component parts, are kept in accordance with University policy.

In addition, the chief examiner will work with the Teaching and Learning Committee to ensure quality assurance in assessment in the school, including:

  • setting of assessment tasks;
  • moderation;
  • feedback; and
  • compilation and review of grades.

4.6.5 Institutional support for assessment

Academic staff are supported and encouraged to design innovative, engaging and sustainable assessment and to undertake appropriate professional development on assessment. They are also rewarded for excellence in assessment (eg through annual review and promotion processes and through University awards for teaching: Annual review for academic staff and PPL 3.30.08 Teaching and Learning Awards)

Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson

Guidelines

Protecting Grade Integrity - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These guidelines outline approaches to help reduce the risk of unauthorised grade manipulation, to ensure grades are protected, and to maintain grade integrity. The guidelines supplement PPL 3.10.02 Assessment – Procedures and General Award Rules Part 1A Assessment, Division 5 – results.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Blackboard Grade Centre – provides an area within the Blackboard course to store student marks.

iMark – online grade book and extensive performance and comparative statistics.

Learn.UQ – the Learning Management System for most University courses.

Phishing – describes the use of email and fraudulent web sites to perform a confidence scam so as to steal usernames and passwords, and other valuable information.

Retention and Disposal Schedules - defines the status, minimum retention periods and consequent disposal actions authorised for specific classes of records. The University is subject to two mandatory retention and disposal schedules:

Turnitin – a software tool that has functions for online assignment submission, text matching, online marking and peer marking.

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These guidelines apply to academic and professional staff involved in the recording, storage and maintenance of assessment marks and grades awarded to students.    

4. Guidelines Statement

Ensuring the accuracy of final grades is critical as final grades have a significant impact on, and value to, our students, employers and reputation. Unauthorised manipulation of grades at the University is rare but does happen. While we cannot remove every chance of unauthorised changes to University grades, we can reduce this risk.

5. Protecting Grade Integrity Guidelines

Students engage in a range of assessment practices across the diverse disciplines and activities at the University. This diversity is reflected in the breadth of systems to manage student submissions, record students’ outcomes and support the determination of course grades. These systems range from Excel files to iMark and the learn.UQ (Blackboard) grade centre. As a result, course staff have more responsibility to understand any risks of grade manipulation and use appropriate procedures to maintain grade integrity.

5.1 Staff responsibility

Staff members have responsibilities to:

  • Follow the principles in assessment policy (see PPL 3.10.02 Assessment – Policy), so that assessment is: a developmental learning activity, a mutual responsibility, criterion-referenced, transparent, credible, fair and equitable, a purposeful, professional activity, sustainable and workable.
  • Ensure marks and grades are secure, ideally:
    • password protected and backed-up assessment, marks and grades (or locked securely for physical artefacts)
    • changes to marks and grades are recorded with who made the change and when
    • verifiable with links to the assessment documents (student submissions and marking)
    • reviewed to identified potential manipulation and errors.
  • Manage records of assessment tasks, items, moderation and grading that are accessible by other staff and address the University’s record keeping policy (see PPL 1.60.04 Records Management – Policy) and responsibilities (see University Sector Retention and Disposal Schedule):
    • Keep assessment submissions completed by students until at least the end of the appeal period
    • Store records of the grade/mark of individual assessment and review, moderation and confirmation of results for two years
    • Retain assessment instructions (master set of examination papers, assignment outlines or other assessment instructions) for 15 years.

5.2 Keep assessment systems secure

5.3 Examples of good practice

Provided below are three examples of possible good practice at the University, however there are many other ways grades can be appropriately managed.

5.3.1 Manage marking and grading in learn.UQ (Blackboard) grade centre

Advantages:

  • all records are protected by University passwords and backed up
  • student feedback, grade calculations, moderation and confirmation all handled in one system
  • original copies of all assignments and marking are linked to grades
  • ITS provide logging and monitoring of grade centre data
  • records are stored and managed centrally.

Challenges:

  • some assessment types cannot be submitted in these systems (eg. central examinations and models); however, the marks, artefacts (video recordings, photos, etc.) and even the marking and feedback may be handled in these systems (see eLearning > A-Z Guides > Turnitin > Create a Turnitin assignment (no file submission))
  • the rubric and scoring systems available in Turnitin and Blackboard do not support all assessment practices used at UQ.

5.3.2 Manage marking and grading in Excel

Advantages:

  • all types of marking and grading are supported
  • encryption can be used
  • track changes can record document history
  • custom formulas, mail merge and other functionality are available.

Challenges:

  • can be difficult to link to original assessment documents to confirm grade integrity
  • manual entry of results and copying between files increases the risk of grade errors
  • no institutional back-up if the excel file or password is lost
  • burden on course staff to manage assessment records, ensure appropriate access and check for errors and manipulation.

5.3.3 Manage marking with Excel and in learn.UQ (Blackboard) grade centre

Advantages:

  • all types of marking and grading enabled
  • custom formulas, mail merge and other functionality are available
  • online records are protected by University passwords and backed up
  • ITS provide logging and monitoring of grade centre data
  • marks and grades records are managed centrally.

Challenges:

  • can be difficult to link to original assessment documents to confirm grade integrity
  • higher administrative overhead than using just the grade centre including security of local files
  • manual entry of results and copying between files increases the risk of errors.
Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson

Forms

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Extension of Progressive Assessment Application - Form

Extension of Progressive Assessment Application - Form

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Description: 

Students must complete this form to apply for an extension of progressive assessment.

Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson
Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson
Custodians
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson