Assessment Design: types of assessment task


What is it?

Posters are a well-established way of communicating information, particularly at scientific conferences. In that context, posters can be used as a way of initiating discussion on early results and encouraging discussion and debate which will help with subsequent research. In order to be effective, posters need to catch the attention, summarise a few ideas succinctly and identify the main issues for debate, discussion or refinement. Like oral presentations, they offer an opportunity for students to present their work to others and to receive rapid feedback from a wider range of people, because you can involve the whole class in feedback, as well as inviting in other members of staff to get a snapshot of progress and interact usefully with students without putting an onerous marking burden on colleagues.

Recommended levels:

5 – 7

Suitable for groups?


Things to think about

Students can work in groups or on their own to prepare a poster to be displayed on a particular day, on which students will talk about it and answer questions. Feedback can be collected from the whole class or a small subgroup can comment on each poster. It can be an excellent formative assessment with students getting an opportunity to demonstrate and test out their ideas in a supportive atmosphere without a huge marking burden being incurred. Usually, it’s an enjoyable experience and everyone gets a lot out of it.

A key decision is whether you are marking artistic or presentational skills as well as the contents of the poster.

With large classes it can be logistically difficult to present the posters (but no more so than organising oral presentations), and you have to be very disciplined to make sure that you see all the posters – as with all event-based activity it is a good idea to work with a colleague and compare notes afterwards.

Students may not have encountered this kind of assessment before, and will need to be briefed on the task and resources available to them such as a reprographics service. You will need to book a suitable room where the posters can be put up and viewed comfortably and provide material for displaying the posters (eg Blutak or display boards with Velcro or drawing pins).

The session needs to be planned carefully; one way is to divide the poster presenters into two or three groups. One group stands by its posters while the tutor(s) and the other groups tour the room, talking to the students about the individual posters. After a set time the groups swap round so that another group stands by the posters while the first group gets to go round the others, and so on.

Assignment length

You can specify a size of poster (eg A1) and a maximum amount of text (eg 500 words) and then leave the rest to them.

Group work

This is very suitable for a group task, as there are different roles which can be played (data collection, analysis, design) but on which everyone may have a clear opinion.

Plagiarism issues

If you use topical subjects plagiarism is difficult, particularly if you ask questions about the poster. Remind students about copyright restrictions on the use of images, though.


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