Designing assessment

Assessment tasks should comprise of an authentic representation of the course intended learning outcomes (ILO). The tasks set must align with the learning activities and learning outcomes provided for students within the course descriptor. Designing an assessment task to achieve the intended learning outcomes is more than just choosing an assessment tool.

Download a copy of the CLIPP Student Workload Guidelines (PDF, 158kb).

When designing an assessment task for your course, consider the following:

  • Alignment with intended learning outcomes - Does the assessment task address some/all of the course learning outcomes? Clearly state within your marking guide or rubric which criteria align with which ILO.
  • Evidenced-based best practice - What evidence do you have that this assessment task is considered best practice in choice of task for learning outcome? There is a plethora of research available to support certain types of assessment achieving more successful intended learning outcomes than others. You can even provide students with a brief rationale for the use of the tools selected with support from literature.
  • Process of implementation – What instructions or resources are to be provided to support students in undertaking the process of successfully completing the assessment task? Do students require support for the use of various technologies? Is there a plan or pathway students are expected to create or follow in order to gain maximum learning outcomes? Ensure you seek independent interpretation and clarification of your instructions and process PRIOR to running the assessment task.
  • Process of providing formative and summative feedback – Are the processes of providing formative and summative feedback clearly identified and within a reasonable timeframe? Clearly state in your Course Descriptor what type of feedback students will receive for which tasks and when. Consider the sequencing and timeline of assessment tasks to support the scaffolding of learning,
  • Marking criteria – Does the marking criteria within the marking guide or rubrics clearly differentiate the various elements required to achieve varying levels of learning? Provide students with a clear understanding of what is considered unsatisfactory, mildly satisfactory, quite satisfactory, highly satisfactory and demonstrating the best understanding.

    Teaching and Learning Activities- These can be teacher controlled, peer-controlled or self-controlled. Curriculum Outcomes- A: The very best understanding B: Highly satisfactory C: Quite satisfactory D: Just a pass. Assessment Tasks- Marking the criteria need to differentiate between these levels. This can be achieved by using verbs associated with the higher levels of learning taxonomy.

Assessment 2020

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council supported a project developed by staff at the University of Technology Sydney to provide stimulus for the redevelopment of assessment practices in higher education. Entitled Assessment 2020, it highlighted seven propositions for assessment reform in higher education. Assessment has most effect when…

  • Assessment is used to engage student in learning that is productive
  • Feedback is used to actively improve student learning
  • Students and teachers become responsible partners in learning and assessment
  • Students are inducted into the assessment practices and cultures of higher education
  • Assessment for learning is placed at the centre of the subject and program design
  • Assessment for learning is a focus for staff and institutional development, and
  • Assessment provides inclusive and trustworthy representation of student achievement

View a full copy of the report (PDF, 231kb).

Internationalisation of the curriculum

All courses are required to embed elements of the university's graduate attributes. Internationalising your assessment practices ensures your students are given opportunities to develop intercultural skills reflects the graduate attribute of engaged citizenship. Take a look at the Internationalisation of the Curriculum help sheet (pdf, 79kb) as it provides examples of assessment tasks that incorporate methods for measuring the students' skills, knowledge and attitudes related to global citizenship and inter-cultural competence.

Where can I get support?

Each faculty has their own embedded course design contacts and/or Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching who can provide advice and assistance in designing the right assessment process for your course. Alternatively, CLIPP staff can provide help.

Additional information


  • Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York (4thed.) Chapters 10-12.