Assessment Design: types of assessment task


What is it?

Students might be asked to produce an article for a real or imaginary newsletter, magazine or newspaper. This kind of writing is not academic in style and would not be expected to contain the breadth and depth of analysis of a more traditional academic piece. However, there is a skill to writing well and communicating complex ideas clearly in such a style and some marks could be allocated for this as well as for content.

Recommended levels:

3 – 7

Suitable for groups?


Things to think about

The choice of publication could be something related to the subject (eg ‘an update on latest thinking on medieval soldiers for History Today’), linked to a particular community (‘Advice on managing back pain for the Hulme News’) or company (‘What we are doing to gain IiP status’ or ‘an explanation of our new strategic aims’ for the CompanyY Newsletter), or of general interest (‘Write a critique of current school health and safety guidance suitable for The Times’). The selection of publication will depend on the level of study and the skills to be developed. You could specify the title of the article or ask students to select something appropriate for themselves. If they are selecting a title themselves, then allow time in the assignment planning and add a formative submission for you to check the suitability of the title.

The article itself could be accompanied with a short piece which links the article to the work done on the unit, and provides the academic sources used in the article. This kind of assignment could also be accompanied by an annotated bibliography.

The article could also have an appendix which explains how the student went about doing the analysis and summarisation. At level 4, this commentary could be fairly simple and might be worth 20-25% of the total marks for the submission, but you might expect a student at level 6 or 7 to perform a sophisticated reflective analysis of their work which might be worth up to 50%.

Consider whether this must be a written piece, or whether you could consider a choice of written, audio, video or drawn submissions. Alternatives may make this more accessible for students with mild to moderate specific learning disabilities. You need to be confident that the submission types are comparable in difficulty and that you can mark them using the same criteria.

Assignment length

The length of the piece and the level of language use should reflect the usual house style of a similar publication.

Group work

Students could complete this work in pairs or small groups. In that situation, they could be encouraged to allocate different types of task (eg background research, interviews, field visit and photography) to contribute to the final product. The length and degree of polish of the final submission would reflect the number of contributors. If the ability to work in a group is being assessed, then the group could also complete a short submission which explains how roles were allocated and how each contributed to the finished article. They could also peer assess each others’ contributions to the task.

Plagiarism issues

The use of Turnitin is recommended for this kind of assignment.


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