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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 4.7).

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 valid 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 4.5.1). No single assessment task (or task component), including examinations but excluding research, project based assessments or thesis compulsorily 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 Timing of assessment

4.2.1 Assessment scheduling No assessment may be held or due during a revision period. Central and school-based examinations must not be held on a Sunday or public holiday. Despite, the President of the Academic Board may permit a variation to scheduling when they consider there are exceptional circumstances.

4.3 Communication of assessment requirements

4.3.1 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.

4.3.2 Consistency in information

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

4.3.3 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 policies and procedures.

Students take responsibility for evidencing submission by the due date of all assessments in the required form, unless an extension is granted e.g. retain evidence, screenshot, email, photo and copy of submitted work.

4.4 Academic Integrity

4.4.1 Student integrity

Academic integrity is a way of describing the ethical principles that underpin academia and student life. These include the values of honesty, responsibility, transparency, respect and trust.

Academic integrity forms a central part of an individual’s intellectual and personal development. Students learn how to uphold values, develop proper skills in research, thinking and writing, and how to behave in an ethical manner.

All members of the University community have a responsibility to support and uphold the University’s values and the University’s academic reputation.

4.4.2 Examination and assessment integrity

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

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 will comply with a set of examination requirements as outlined in PPL 3.10.11b Examinations – Procedures.

Insofar as repetition of previously used assessment items (e.g., 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.

4.5 Provision of feedback on assessment

4.5.1 Feedback for learning

Feedback is provided or is available on all assessment tasks, including end of semester and mid-semester 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.

4.5.2 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).

4.6 Assessment judgements and finalisation of grades

4.6.1 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 (e.g., 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.

4.6.2 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 4.7.

4.6.3 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 grade 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.

4.6.4 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.

4.6.5 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.

Post hoc variations to grade cut-offs may be permissible where there is justifiable academic reason for the change:

(i)  On the approval of the Head of School, grade cut-offs may be lowered where the change does not disadvantage students; and

(ii) In exceptional circumstances, with the approval of the Associate Dean (Academic) in consultation with the Academic Registrar, grade cut-offs may be increased.

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

4.6.6 Provision of grades

University procedures are followed with respect to:

  • Finalisation of grades, as set out in PPL 3.10.12 Finalisation of Grades;
  • Communication of grades to students on mySI-net. Where schools and faculties post results on noticeboards including electronic noticeboards, for privacy reasons, individual marks 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 grades by the appropriate certifying authority in accordance with University policy PPL 3.10.08 Release of Examination Papers.

4.6.7 Avenues for review of assessment judgements

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.

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

4.7 Quality assurance and quality enhancement

4.7.1 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 (e.g. 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.

4.7.2 Program-level considerations 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.

4.7.3 Course-level considerations 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 (e.g. 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.

4.7.4 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 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 School 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.

4.7.5 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 (e.g. 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).

Academic Registrar Mr Mark Erickson