Assessment and Feedback Design

TaLIC’s research shows that the following principles are essential for assessment and feedback quality and student satisfaction:

  • Assessment for learning (i.e., developmental assessment and feedback);​
  • Diversity in forms of assessment;​
  • Dialogue and transparency over assessment and feedback processes and marking criteria;​
  • Spacing between assessments with less clumping at the end of term;​
  • Consistency in the format and quality of feedback;
  • Student-staff partnership.

Assessment for Learning

  • Assessment and feedback should be used to feed-forward. They should inform students’ work and suggest ways they can improve.​
  • Feedback should be constructive, personalised, and developmental.
  • Consider the kind of learning climate you will set up with the assessment and feedback methods you use. Will your methods encourage independent, collaborative, self-reflective, or dialogic learning for further development? Are there opportunities for self-reflection, revisions and refinement?


Students often report that the majority of their course work were assessed by single essays at the end of term.​

What assessments are there that are not essay-based?​ The list of varied assessment methods is a great resource where you can see the range of methods you can use, such as:

  • Case studies​
  • Blogs​
  • Newspaper or popular science magazine articles ​
  • Research posters​
  • Research proposals

Dialogue & Transparency

  • Explain about moderation processes including external examiners (this emphasises fairness).​
  • Provide exemplar work and set marking exercises.​
  • Directly teach students how to use feedback. Require them to engage with feedback reflections. ​
  • Discuss with your students varied assessment and feedback methods.
  • The work students do in response to feedback is just as if not more important than the quality of the feedback itself.


Having several assessments clumped at the end of term is highly stressful and does not foster feeding forward.​

  • Avoid setting deadlines within the first week of the subsequent term.  Make sure students have time to receive academic support.​
  • Map the schedule of assessments across whole programmes and try to space them out. It is imperative that students have time to digest and reflect on feedback before the next piece of work is due.​


Students often complain that the feedback they receive is not consistent within departments. The following might be helpful to avoid inconsistencies in when and how students receive feedback.

  • Write departmental marking and feedback guidelines​.
  • Use a Marking Pro Forma.
  • Have grading calibration exercises with colleagues.


  • Involve students in the process! Design assessments together, encourage peer-to-peer and self-assessment. 
  • Identify areas to improve and highlight successes in the assessment and feedback process together with your colleagues and students. You might consider getting some student feedback informally or using anonymous questionnaires.

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