Designing Effective Assessment


5. Transparent


Transparency refers to the how clear the assessment expectations are for students. The degree of transparency can be gauged by asking:

Did students understand what was required of them to succeed in the task set for them?

Transparency can be greatly enhanced by:

  • A clear task description:
    • so students know what it is they are expected to do
  • A clear set of criteria and standards:
    • so students know what it is against which they will be assessed
  • The use of model exemplars across a range:
    • so students know the level of performance expected and what that "looks like"

Often times, as academics, our familiarity with our units and courses can act as an impediment to assessment transparency. In our estimation, the question or task seems perfectly clear and the expectations obvious. This is not so for students, for whom the area is usually new and for whom perhaps the type of assessment task may also be new or unfamiliar.

The language used for assessment tasks and criteria needs to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Even then, different students may make different interpretations.

How you as the academic interpret what is required to undertake a "critical evaluation of the current literature" can differ markedly from that of a student, particularly one for who this type of task is new.

The use of model exemplars is a useful way to help students recognise what is expected of them i.e. what a good quality piece of work should look like.

Transparent assessment clearly sets out expectations for students with clear task descriptions, criteria and standards and the use of model exemplars.