Assessment on course level

Assessment methods in the UM context

E.g. 50 multiple choice questions combined with two open questions

In a second year Bachelor’s course the purpose is to help students understand the basics of international trade and finance and the effects of various international economic policies on domestic and world welfare. The course is divided into two parts: international trade relations and international monetary relations.

The course requirements are made up of an exam and a group presentation. The written examination is of a multiple-choice type (50 questions) combined with two open-ended questions from a menu of four questions, from which one question has to be answered for International Trade and the other from International Finance. This will make up 3/4 or 75 percent of the final grade. The other 1/4 or 25 percent will come from a group presentation which intends to apply the theories students are going to learn from this course as well as from a parallel course.

The written combination exam is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • to introduce the basic economic concepts and principles in international trade and finance which was not taken up in the Micro-Macroeconomics course of the first year;
  • to apply the concepts and principles of international economics in real-life developments through a group project;
  • to inculcate in students the foundations of economic analysis that are required to understand the other economics course in year 2 of the programme.

A first year (MSc), 4-week, skills training course on qualitative interviewing provides students with an in-depth insight into the strengths and weaknesses of different types of academic interviews. It furthermore provides students a hands-on training in conducting interviews. Students will have to conduct an interview with a policy official and write a report on this interview. Students will be formally assessed on the basis of this report, their interview diary (100%) and it will be graded numerically [1-10]. The report (interview diary) will discuss the preparation of the interview, selection of the interviewee and response rate, a transcript of the interview, and a concluding reflection.

It is difficult to have an exact word length for the interview diary, since students need to include the e-mail conversation. Excluding this conversation, the interview diary counts 3000-4500 words. Submission of the interview diary via Safe Assignment. Submission of the transcript via email to the course coordinator.

The interview diary is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • To understand the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative interviewing as a research method;
  • To learn how to conduct a qualitative interview;
  • To learn how to transcribe a qualitative interview;
  • To learn how to use data from qualitative interviews.

A compulsory first year mathematics course has a large number of students from a wide range of different backgrounds.  The aim of the course is to provide all students with the necessary foundational maths skills to apply to their future studies.

In order to stimulate learning throughout the course, online assessment is employed in the form of fortnightly homework assignments. The online assessment tool used also grades the numerical and formulaic answers from the students automatically and provides students with instant feedback. As students are given multiple attempts per question, the feedback allows them to review their own learning, adapt their methods and try again when necessary.  In this way the assessment is used formatively although a nominal grade is still awarded to encourage participation (7% per homework assignment).

Information from the grades and attempts from students are also used for the tutor to identify areas of weakness to concentrate on during tutorials. Online assessment questions are similar in style to the final, high-stakes exam.

The online assessment is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

The student can:

  • …convert between complex numbers of different forms;
  • …identify which rules are functions and explain their reasoning;
  • …differentiate and integrate functions of single and multiple variables using chain, product, quotient rules, and substitution, and by parts, respectively;
  • …solve first and second order linear differential equations.

In a third year (advanced) electronics laboratory practical course, the students must build and test various electronic circuits. In order to check that the students understand what they have built and how it functions, they are asked to undergo an oral examination where they are asked about the components and the functioning of their devices.

The goals of the practical are not just for the students to be able to read schematics and correctly build the relevant circuits, but also to gain an understanding of how the components individually function, and how they work together to provide the required functionality.

Oral assessment must have more than one invigilator and as each student is examined individually, some logistical planning is required to ensure that students do not have contact with each other between assessments.  Set questions are asked to each student and a rubric is used for the grading. The oral assessment is worth a total of 30% of the student’s course grade.

In addition to oral assessment, the students are also graded on individual experimental proficiency (10%) and on lab reports (as a pair) (60%).

The oral assessment is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

The student can:

  • Apply Boolean theory to circuits built from logic gates to calculate and explain outcomes;
  • Read and use digital and analogue circuit diagrams to build and then describe the functioning of various devices including clock and counter systems, a heart rate monitor and a pacemaker;
  • Identify the different components and their functions, that are used in a given circuit;
  • Measure, describe and explain the signals generated from a circuit using an oscilloscope;
  • Work with a commercially available medical device with nothing more than a manual to summarize the workings and the results from a measured EMG.

In a four-week block, students must work in groups between 3 and 8 to complete an experimental research project. During this time they have to investigate a certain topic (specific to each group), write and submit a group project report, and give a poster or PowerPoint presentation. After this the students receive an individual performance grade from their supervisor and are also asked to give each other a peer review grade and feedback per taining to this score.

In this particular case the students are asked to review each other’s performance in the following areas:

  • Communication;
  • Academic input;
  • Practical work contribution;

Reporting is worth half of the weighting of the other topics since the report itself also receives a grade and this also reflects the performance of the students in this area.

The grades that the students award each other are kept anonymous (they are submitted online using qualtrics.com) and each individual student receives only an average grade.  However, all students are required to give individual feedback to each other during a group meeting.

Projects are run at a first year, second year and third year bachelor’s level and the ratio of the grades between supervisor and peer-review grades changes depending on the level of the group.  At first the supervisor grade is worth 35% and the peer-review 15%, then this changes to 25%:25% and finally 15%:35% in a third-year project. The report and presentation together make up the other 50% of the course grade.

Peer review is used to assess the following ILOs:

  • Communicate effectively within a project team who have set goals and deadlines to achieve;
  • Distribute and agree on workload, tasks and responsibilities within a team;
  • Critically reflect on their team’s overall performance and that of the individuals within the team;
  • Identify the contribution of each teammate and demonstrate their own abilities within a team environment;
  • Provide constructive (and justified) feedback to individuals within their team (both positive and negative);
  • Identify areas for self- and peer improvement.

A first year Master course aims at providing students with the knowledge to better understand and critically reflect on contemporary European civil society. Students are asked to submit a group assignment – a recorded BBC-style documentary (40%) (see other example) and an individual assignment – a Policy Brief (60%) for assessment, which together make up the final grade for the course.

The policy brief should contain all the relevant elements (given to the student via course book and Student Portal), including an executive summary, description of the policy problem, a discussion of policy options and policy recommendations (students also receive links to best practice examples on the EleUM pages of the course). Submission of the Policy Brief is done via Safe Assign.

The Policy brief and BBC-style documentary are used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • Acquire advanced knowledge of the role of civil society in EU policy and in the wider historical, political and social processes of European integration;
  • Choose and apply appropriate theories and concepts of civil society in function of answering a research question; Present a coherent and well-argued empirical analysis of a case study, applying advanced knowledge of civil society, and relating theoretical propositions to empirical evidence;
  • Derive meaningful conclusions from the empirical analysis: formulate balanced and informed judgments from the analysis in light of the research question;
  • Develop the advanced capacity to critically reflect on civil society in the context of relationships of power, sources of influence, modes of governance and cultural specificities in EU policy-making and the wider process of European integration;
  • Develop the enhanced skill of presenting research to a non-academic audience;
  • Demonstrating the ability to function effectively in collective problem-solving processes: contribution to collective process of developing the video-recordings; dealing with new challenges (how to do a video recording); dealing with time constraints; ability to respond to feedback (workshops and feedback on draft policy briefs).

A Master module has the objective to provide participants with insights into the polity and politics of the European Union in order to create a common point of departure for all. Moreover the aim is to lay the foundations with regard to professional skills such as presentation skills and to academic skills such as academic writing skills. Therefore, this module has a ‘quiz’ in week 3 of the 8-week course that counts for 10% of the final grade. This will encourage students to make it part of their daily routine to become acquainted with current affairs and to follow political and policy developments. The quiz will contain 20 multiple choice questions and will cover basic facts or current events in the European Union.

The quiz is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • Will demonstrate knowledge and understanding relating to aspects of the EU policy and EU politics.

On the one hand students will thus have an insight how different processes of EU integration impact on how the EU institutions work and have an insight into the key features of EU policies and EU policy-making.

A first year (MSc), 8 week, module provides students with in-depth knowledge of central driving forces, turning points, and features in the history of European integration. The students’ knowledge of conceptual issues and empirical insights related to the history of European integration will be assessed by way of a research paper. The paper is an individual output by the student and it combines empirical insights with more conceptual and theoretical reflections.

A complementary form of assessment is the oral presentation given at one of the workshops. This is done to allow candidates to work on their presentation skills (i.e. presentation and communication of their research plan, methods, and hypotheses).

The grade for the research project counts as the final grade for the module. The presentation will count for 20% of the grade; the written paper for the remaining 80%. Grading follows the rules of the Dutch system used at Maastricht University with a range of 1 to 10. The lowest passing grade is 6.0.

The research paper of 7,000-8,000 words will be submitted online via SafeAssign and sent by email to the module coordinators. The paper will be graded in terms of its overall coherence and the strength of the arguments presented and the analysis thereof (empirical and theoretical backing of the argument).

The research paper is used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • Have knowledge and understanding of the historical evolution of the European Union;
  • Are able to place these developments in the more global historical context and longer term perspective;
  • Are able to compare the history of the EU to other forms of international cooperation and integration;
  • Are able to find historical source material and can critically assess it, and use it for their own writings;
  • Can conduct their research informed by a broad range of theories and methods from history and neighboring disciplines;
  • Are able to write a paper on the history of European integration and its relevance for today.

A first year Master module aims at providing students with the knowledge to better understand and critically reflect on contemporary European civil society. Students are asked to submit a group assignment – a recorded BBC-style documentary (40%) and an individual assignment – a Policy Brief (60%) for assessment (see other example), which together make up the final grade for the course.

The BBC-style documentary is a 10-15min long video recording in which smaller groups of students (4-6 students per group) present an analysis of either an EU mechanism of participatory democracy or a social movement in Europe. In week 2, students split into two groups to prepare the documentaries. The documentaries will be presented to the tutor and course-coordinator.

[Students know what a BBC style documentary looks like and can easily ‘imitate’ the set-up and structure of the assignment. This in turn helps them to ‘adopt’ their communication to a non-academic audience and to show and apply their knowledge of the subject matter in an effective manner. BBC style documentaries also present different points of view and case studies, which help students to compare, contrast and critically reflect upon civil society in the context of EU policy-making (e.g. by featuring different expert options in their ‘documentary’, or discussing different examples of EU instruments aiming at civil society involvement). In addition, planning and putting together a documentary is a lively, interactive and multi-skills assignment, requiring students to reach out to ‘real’ experts and ‘real people’, recording in different locations outside the university, which makes this assignment a unique and exciting learning experience.]

The BBC-style documentary and Policy brief are used to assess the following types of ILOs:

  • Acquire advanced knowledge of the role of civil society in EU policy and in the wider historical, political and social processes of European integration;
  • Choose and apply appropriate theories and concepts of civil society in function of answering a research question; Present a coherent and well-argued empirical analysis of a case study, applying advanced knowledge of civil society, and relating theoretical propositions to empirical evidence;
  • Derive meaningful conclusions from the empirical analysis: formulate balanced and informed judgments from the analysis in light of the research question;
  • Develop the advanced capacity to critically reflect on civil society in the context of relationships of power, sources of influence, modes of governance and cultural specificities in EU policy-making and the wider process of European integration;
  • Develop the enhanced skill of presenting research to a non-academic audience;
  • Demonstrating the ability to function effectively in collective problem-solving processes: contribution to collective process of developing the video-recordings; dealing with new challenges (how to do a video recording); dealing with time constraints; ability to respond to feedback (workshops and feedback on draft policy briefs).

There are numerous reasons why we choose to assess students.  The institutional reasons for assessment are outlined in respectively the programme and institutional level sections of this site.

At a course level reasons may include assessment for:

  • gleaning diagnostic information
  • benchmarking purposes
  • evidence of progress
  • to provide students with feedback (to encourage and adapt future learning)
  • evaluation of teaching (and for adaptation of teaching practice)

The underlying motivation for these types of assessments are usually grouped into the following categories:

Assessment OF learning
Instructors use evidence of student learning to make judgements on student achievement against goals and standards.

Assessment AS learning
Students reflect on and monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals

Assessment FOR learning
Instructors use inferences about student progress to inform and improve teaching and learning.

It is prudent to ask yourself what exactly you wish to examine. In the section on ILOs at a course level you will have learnt how learning objectives for your courses can be created. It is these learning outcomes (or at least some of these) that you will be assessing to see if students are able to demonstrate that the ILOs have been achieved. Also think about: Is this compatible with our actions during the course?

Consider which forms of examination and questions are most compatible with the objective of the examination and the content of the course. Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives has already been referred to in the course level ILO section of this site.  This handbook offers a tool for educators to select a broad range of learning objectives for their courses, thus providing a more holistic approach to their teaching.  Bloom’s taxonomy also provides a wide range of suggested assessment tools and methods for each of the levels of complexity described in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains outlined.

And don’t forget:

  • match the assessment method to the outcome and not vice-versa;
  • different components of the assessment method(s) together determine what is assessed;
  • one size does not fit all — some methods work well for one course but not others;
  • Make conscious trade-offs between different requirements, an examination is never perfect but a consideration of factors and elements that play a role;
  • take a continuous improvement approach, allow for ongoing feedback.

Will the examination be held at the end of the course or also during the course as to encourage the students to make greater efforts during their studies? Within some UM departments there is a requirement to assess students a minimum number of times during one block/course.  This has the advantages of offering continual learning from assessment (in the case of homework or other formative means of assessment). This also spreads the workload for the students and thus reduces the pressure that may be otherwise experienced in having one final high stakes assessment at the end of a course. Finally, it provides multiple opportunities to assess students and therefore a range of assessment methods within one course can be employed.  This final motivation helps to cater for students with different preferences of learning (and therefore performance) styles.

In other UM departments a maximum number of assessment points is specified to ensure the workload and stress placed upon the students is kept within a reasonable limit (and thus proportional to the ECTS of a specific course).

At the course level the appointed examiner is responsible for the course assessment. For example, will the course coordinator make the assessment – or are the students also in some way involved in the assessment process?

Provide examples for specific cases where e.g. students are involved in e.g. designing a rubric, peer-assessment, etc.  or e.g. using peer- and self- assessment in assessing participation and refer to ECs responsibility to appoint examiners.

Assessing Employability ILOs

Employability

  • Academic expertise and skills: post-discussion, examination
  • Self-awareness: formative feedback, reflection paper
  • Adaptability: mock sessions, simulations
  • Social responsibility: team presentation, team paper, participation grade

Earl, L.M. , & Manitoba School Programs Division (2006). Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind: Assessment for learning, assessment as learning, assessment of learning. Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth.

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