4.2 Assessment criteria

Linked to the question of which criteria to apply when assessing the project tasks, is the question of whether the students need to be successful as regards their solution/product or if they can get good grades even though their product fails.

The terms “assessment criteria” and “grading criteria” are similar in meaning and can often be used interchangeably. In Sweden the assessment criteria should be related to the ILOs. The learning outcomes identify the essential learning to be achieved to merit the award of credit and the assessment criteria should specify how satisfactory performances of the learning outcomes are to be demonstrated.

The purpose of assessment criteria is to establish clear and unambiguous standards of achievement in respect to each learning outcome. They should describe what the learner is expected to do, in order to demonstrate that the learning outcome has been achieved. The assessment criteria are expressed as qualitative levels of achievement in respect to the learning outcomes. Preferably the levels should be discrete, but sometimes it is necessary to use adjectives or adverbs describing the quality in a continuous scale, for example satisfactory, good, and excellent. The number of different levels of each criterion should be adapted to the different learning outcomes, which standards are suitable to put on them and how they could be assessed. The number of levels may well be lower than the number of different grades.

Besides the grading criteria, a formula or matrix describing how the final grades depend on the achieved levels, according to the grading criteria, has to be defined. Assessment criteria should encourage learning at the appropriate level, by making the requirements clear. They are valuable for the teacher when constructing and marking assessments. They also define what the teacher thinks are the main points of the course, which will help the teacher when describing what is important in the course when talking to students or colleagues.

Comment from a teacher in Lightweight Design/Naval Design: As a teacher you should of course not ignore whether the product is successful or not, but you have to think about why things are going well or poorly. Sometimes the product is successful because of luck, or because of individuals who have done well, rather than due to a successful process. There are lots of other things that affect, such as relations and conflicts in teams. Students often see the product as the most essential part of the course, but the product is only one part of a course that covers several other aspects such as project methodology and learning outcomes.

The terms “assessment criteria” and “grading criteria” are similar in meaning and can often be used interchangeably. In Sweden the assessment criteria should be related to the ILOs.  The learning outcomes identify the essential learning to be achieved to merit the award of credit.  The assessment criteria should specify how satisfactory performances of the learning outcomes are to be demonstrated.

The purpose of assessment criteria is to establish clear and unambiguous standards of achievement in respect to each learning outcome. They should describe what the learner is expected to do, in order to demonstrate that the learning outcome has been achieved. The assessment criteria are expressed as qualitative levels of achievement in respect to the learning outcomes. Preferably the levels should be discrete, but sometimes it is necessary to use adjectives or adverbs describing the quality in a continuous scale, for example "satisfactory, good, and excellent".  The number of different levels of each criterion should be adapted to the different learning outcomes, which standards are suitable to put on them and how they could be assessed.  The number of levels may well be lower than the number of different grades.

Besides the grading criteria, a formula or matrix describing how the final grades depend on the achieved levels, according to the grading criteria, has to be defined. Assessment criteria should encourage learning at the appropriate level, by making the requirements clear. They are valuable for the teacher when constructing and marking assessments. They are also define what the teacher thinks are the main points of the course, which will help the teacher when describing what is important in the course when talking to students or colleagues.

Example of assessment criteria from Electronics design:
We use assessment criteria both to assess but also to guide the students. There are seven criteria in total: 1 - be able to participate in and conduct project groups, 2 - show analytic ability by dividing a problem into smaller sub problems, 3 - show ability to use relevant prerequisites to solve the task, 4 - show ability to independently search or ask for relevant information to solve the task, 5 - orally present a technical product and discuss the work, 6 - be able to produce a well-disposed technical report with good linguistic and scientific quality, and 7 - show ability to review your own and others work. In each of the criteria, there is a table showing what has to be done to reach a certain level, e.g. as regards criteria 5 - Orally present a technical product and discuss the work:

Excellent:      Shows good ability to orally present with clear arguments and analysis. Shows good ability to discuss the work.

Good:            Shows good ability to present and discuss the work.

Sufficient:      Shows ability to orally present the work.

Insufficient:    Lacks the ability to orally present or discuss the work.

As regards the 7th criteria, to show ability to review own and others work, the following is stated in the instructions: To reach this aim for reviewing your own and others work, the following instructions are valid. During the project work the student should keep a diary and time report (optional). These should be available for the examiner to read. The interval depends on the length of the course. Notes should be taken every 15-20 hours or at least once a week. This is to minimize the risk that important information will be lost. The diary should contain the following (not everything every time): 1. Project progress and project work: Actual performed work, Collaborative partner, who did I work with?, What progress is done?, What problems do I experience in the group?, Have we solved any problems lately?, 2. Analytical ability: Why did I do this? How does it fit into the total project, the final prototype?, What problems are unsolved?.

As a student said: “The assessment criteria helped us understand the course and what we were supposed to do in the projects. The criteria also made it possible to check if we were going in the right direction and what aspects we have to be aware of to pass the course.”

AssessmentCriteriaforMedicalEngineering.pdf

An Example of an evaluation committee in the course Degree Project in Biotechnology:
In this course several supervisors are involved supporting and supervising the project teams, including  senior faculty and doctoral students. These supervisors form a “supervisor team” and seven of them are included in our evaluation committee in which we discuss the students’ grades. The advantage of having a teacher/supervisor team is that it gives us a space for discussing our teaching and for assisting each other if there are problems in the project teams, e.g. conflicts or other issues. We also offer a course on supervising to our doctoral students to make them prepared for the task.

For additional information on assessment criteria, see: David Gosling and Jenny Moon: "How to Use Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria", http://www.seec.org.uk/publications/how-use-learning-outcomes-and-assessment-criteria

Suggestion: In order to make the assessment and grading of the students appropriate make use of assessment criteria based on the intended learning outcomes. 

Administrator Oskar Bergman created page 18 July 2014

Administrator Marie Magnell changed the permissions 27 January 2015

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