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Written Exam: Form for Assessment and Feedback

Teacher's motivation    

The idea was conceived because I had the feeling that the way in which I assessed assignments was too random. In addition, I often missed having notes when I sat with co-examiners - and when I gave the students any feedback.

The form can be used by both examiner and co-examiner, but I have most experience of using it as an examiner.

Description of the activity

The preliminary work for the assessment form is that you make clear to yourself and the students what it is you will assess in an assignment. You cannot assess assignments if you do not precisely know what it is you should/will be looking for. An 'intuition for academic work' or 'knowledge of genre' is much too loose. In my case the work of making and continuously adapting the form has helped me to reflect on my assessment criteria. This is, however, a separate and extensive issue.

1. I adapt the assessment form so that it matches the current subjects and the current exam. Enclosed appendix is adapted to the Studium Generale; General Studies course, in the way that I have held it at Media Studies for some years. The assessment form contains fields for all the elements that I deem to be significant for the assessment of the exam in question. During the teaching I have clearly communicated what I/we emphasise in the assessment. It is all about so-called alignment.

2. I print the assessment form’s three pages in A3 and fold it in the middle. In this way the form also functions as the cover of an exam assignment.

3. During the reading of an exam assignment I regularly fill in the form’s fields. It is important that I write something in all of the fields - regardless of the qualities of the assignment. The form therefore functions as a checklist, which ensures that I relate to the same (and the correct) criteria when I assess the assignment.

The form is designed so that page 1 is essentially filled out on an on-going basis, while pages 2 and 3 are to a greater extent filled out as a summing up once I have read the assignment. I make a particular, effort with page 3, where it is important to include everything. Both minor issues and the general outlines. The merits and minuses must be assessed qualitatively for the grading.

Some of the fields contain a grading that matches the grading scale. The rectangle next to the frowning smiley corresponds to 02 on the grading scale, while the rectangle next to the happy smiley is equivalent to 12. I think it is easier to assess the overall qualities of the assignment once I have given 'grades' to the individual chapters or elements, but this is probably a matter of preference.

4. During the grading process with a co-examiner I use the summary of the strengths and weaknesses on page 3 as a basis for the dialogue. I have made sure that I have both graded strengths and weaknesses.

5. During any feedback I use the form in the same way. In fact, I can provide feedback solely by reading my summarising comments on page 3. This is possible because I have been very careful to take notes while reading the assignment.

Outcome of the activity

It is first and foremost about creating increased quality in the assessment work. The form has the following advantages:

  • It provides uniformity in the criteria for assessment.
  • Which grade I give to different assignments becomes less random. It becomes much easier to lay down a 'line' so that assignments from the same subject submitted in the same semester become to a greater degree comparable with regard to the grade.
  • It forces me to read the assignments thoroughly, because I need to have something qualified to write in all of the form’s fields.
  • It places a routine (and often boring) activity in a fixed framework, which in part makes it clearer and in part ensures that the boredom does not affect the quality. In fact, filling in the form meticulously becomes a bit of a sport.
  • This makes grading easier and it makes it much easier to find the root of any disagreements with a co-examiner relating to the qualities of the assignment.
  • This makes work with feedback easier.

Worth considering  

It takes more time to assess assignments with a list like this (or similar) compared to just reading/skimming an assignment and giving a grade based on intuition or using a few scattered notes. Quality in assessment work 'has a price'. You cannot have high quality without investing the hours. That said, there is actually a rationalisation gain in a procedure such as this, which means that the additional work is in the final analysis probably not that great in spite of everything.


    Examples of practice

      Basic information

      • Faculty: Arts
      • Degree Programme: Media Studies
      • Course: Studium Generale; General Studies, Media, Cultural and Societal Theories, and the Academic Process and Communication
      • Study level: All
      • Course size: All
      • Teaching method: Small class teaching
      • Extent: Activity
      • Primary type of activity: Acquisition 

      Links and materials

      Assessment Form, which is filled out during the reading of the exam assignments, and which can subsequently be used for the grading and in any feedback to the student.

      The content of this page was developed by Anders Foss, former employee at Aarhus Universitet.