Assessment Design: types of assessment task


What is it?

A bibliography as a separate assessment task usually consists of a set of references with annotations which explains why each source has been selected. It may be also be appropriate to ask students to explain how they went about finding each source.

It can be used as a key part of preparation for producing more substantive pieces of academic work. It is useful at levels 3 or 4 on its own or at higher levels as a first assignment in a unit, giving you the opportunity to monitor progress before a piece of writing is submitted at the end of the unit, for instance.

Recommended levels:

3 – 7

Suitable for groups?


Things to think about

You should set the same parameters, such as the number of items you want students to find, the kinds of sources which are acceptable (Peer reviewed only? Popular culture? Websites? Newspapers and magazines? Primary sources?) and the location of such sources (will you refuse items which aren’t in our library, or which have been published in a certain country?).

You need to be prepared to check the references selected and this is a good reason for setting clear rules about the scope of the bibliography.

You will find it helpful to consult with your subject librarian before putting the final details of such an assignment together.

Assignment length

To determine the length of the assignment, think about how roughly long it would take students to find an individual high quality source and write something meaningful about it in relation to the unit content. As a rule of thumb, assignments should take students around 75 hours for a 30 credit unit. If the bibliography is worth, say, 30% of the credit, students should be spending around 22 hours searching, reading and analysing the findings, writing the annotations and selecting a final list. Level 4 students might get 6-10 good quality sources in that time, and level 6 students might be able to manage more, but much depends on the subject area and the level of challenge you have set for the scope.

Group work

The obvious approach would be for students to divide up the work into a number of references each – if the total number of references remains the same, then a more detailed analysis would be expected, together with an overall commentary on how the work was done in the group and what the overall conclusions are.

Plagiarism issues

The rationale for selection of each source should be personal and difficult to plagiarise. If using Turnitin, you will need to exclude references from the comparison when you set up the assignment.


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