Design Principles

Sheffield Hallam’s assessment regulations create a firm structure for assessment. Using design principles should enable anyone to make good judgements about effective practice. The principles below used to support good assessment design have been adapted from REAP’s principles of good formative assessment and feedback, which in turn are based on the research on assessment (including Gibbs and Simpson, 2004; Nicol and McFarlane-Dick, 2006; Nicol and Draper, 2009). Used individually or collectively, the principles support the design and implementation of effective assessment strategies. They are also represented in the Viewpoints Project – Viewpoints Toolkit which can be used to guide design discussions with course teams.

Assessment Design Principles
REAP Principles

Good assessment and feedback practice should:

  1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria and standards) – provide opportunities for learners to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task.
  2. Encourage time and effort on challenging learning tasks – design assessment tasks which encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than surface learning.
  3. Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct – ensure the feedback given helps learners self-assess and self-correct
  4. Provide opportunities to act on feedback (to close any gap between current and desired performance) – build in opportunities for learners to reflect and act on the feedback they receive.
  5. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer and teacher-learner) – provide opportunities for feedback dialogue between teacher and learners and between peers.
  6. Facilitate the development of self-assessment and relfection in the learning – create formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment and peer assessment.
  7. Give choice in the topic, method, criteria, weighting or timing of assessments – build in opportunities for learners to exercise choice.
  8. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem – design assessment tasks and adopt feedback methods that activtate learners’ motivation to learn and be successful.
  9. Provide feedback to help shape future teaching – explore how assessment and feedback information can be exploited to inform and shape future learning, teaching and assessment activity.

See the Viewpoints Workshop Toolkit for further practical information on applying the Assesment Design Principles.

Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C. (2004). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), 3-31. Nicol, D, J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218.
Nicol, D., & Draper, S. (2009). A blueprint for transformational organisational change in higher education:
REAP as a case study. In: Mayes, T., Morrison, D., Meller, H., Bullen, P., and Oliver, M. (eds) Education through technology-enhanced learning. Higher Education Academy.