Quick start

Why assess?

  • Assessment drives learning. From a student's perspective, the assessment always defines the curriculum - ‘what do I need to do to show the learning I have acquired?’ Assessment should be constructed as meaningful tasks that allow a learner to demonstrate their learning.

  • Assessment measures learning. Tasks provide valuable information to the student and the educator about where a student is at in their learning at a particular point of time.
  • Assessment generates marks/grades for certification and credentialing. To have credibility with students and professional bodies, assessment needs to be meaningful and as valid, reliable and accurate as it can be.

  • Assessment prepares students for learning beyond the unit. It helps students to develop and benchmark skills and knowledge for future activities, careers and situations.

  • Assessment allows students to develop evaluative judgement. It enables students to understand criteria and standards and evaluate their own skills and knowledge and those of their peers.

See the How-to section for more information on choosing the right assessment tasks.

Assessment Terminology

There are a number of different ways to refer to assessment. The main purpose of assessment is to establish where learners are in their learning at the time of assessment (Masters, 2013), but terminology may vary according to context.

Types of assessment tasks

Once you know what you are trying to assess and how you are going to assess it, you then need to identify the assessment type you will use to collect that data.

The sections below cover some, but not all assessment types, but they should provide a good overview of the main methods for assessment used at Monash.

When considering the purpose of assessment and communicating this to students, it may be useful to refer to the Assessment in Higher Education Framework (Thomas et al, 2018). The below formats are not an exhaustive list but indicate some of the more common assessments. Click on the drop downs below the image to see further examples of tasks for each assessment type.

Descriptive tasks

Analytical tasks

Reflective tasks

Persuasive tasks

Use instructions such as describe, record, summarise, define to ask students to provide information or facts related to learning content (e.g., descriptive essay, article, abstract).

Use instructions such as analyse, report, relate, compare, synthesise to ask students to unpack and organize information (e.g., critical review, report, viva voce, case study)

Use instructions such as reflect, respond, react to ask students to explore personal experiences, opinions, events and learning (e.g., interview, journal, presentation).

Use instructions such as argue, persuade, defend, discuss to ask students to present perspectives to persuade (e.g., persuasive essay, presentation, article, report).

Creative tasks

Responsive tasks

Design-based tasks

Engagement-based tasks

Use instructions such as narrate, recount, imagine to ask students to create original, imaginary responses (e.g. performance, portfolio, artefact, project).

Use instructions such as respond, apply, review to ask students to respond to hypothetical scenarios (e.g., report, journal, case study)

Use instructions such as design, plan, create, build to ask students to design or plan a new text, resource or solution (e.g., portfolio, performance, demonstration)

Use instructions such as prepare, share, practice, learn to ask students to engage in opportunities and experiences (e.g., debate, role-play, placement, teamwork)


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