Purposes and principles of assessment

It is important to clarify some of the fundamental principles and issues which need to be applied to the design of any assessment strategies for any module or programme. For this purpose, let us define assessment as evaluation or appraisal; it is about making a judgment, identifying the strengths and weaknesses, the good and the bad, and the right and the wrong in some cases. It is more than simply giving marks or grades, although that may well be a part of it. And because it involves making a judgment it will almost always inevitably include an element of subjectivity by the assessor. However, we should strive to make assessment as objective, fair and transparent as possible.

Assessment plays a crucial role in the education process: it determines much of the work students undertake (possibly all in the case of the most strategic student), affects their approach to learning and, it can be argued, is an indication of which aspects of the course are valued most highly.