Assessment is important for course design and the learning process, helping to achieve constructive alignment. Effective assessment provides both a measure of learning as well as a motivation and mechanism for learning.

Assessment should be designed so that it can provide assurance that a student has achieved the course learning outcomes. Once you have chosen the right assessment type for your course, you need to write clear and cohesive instructions, develop the performance criteria and marking requirements, and establish a feedback process. These elements are discussed below.

As you develop your assessment, you should familiarise yourself with Lincoln University’s policies and procedures related to assessment including, but not limited to:

Assessment design considerations

When designing the assessment in your course, you need to consider the course learning outcomes that you are assessing to ensure there is constructive alignment. This helps to ensure your assessment is valid. Good assessment should also be fair, transparent, reliable, feasible and have educational impact. The use of authentic assessment helps students to develop work-ready skills as well as helping maintain academic integrity and reduce the possibilities for cheating.

Authentic assessment can include the use of scenario-based questions which require learners to apply what they have learned to realistic situations. These types of questions often test knowledge better than simple questions and can be used with different assessment formats including multiple-choice questions. 

Also think about the number of assessment items you have, the sequencing of the assessment items and the scheduling of the assessment items. For each assessment item, consider whether the assessment will be formative or summative, and the assessment type (eg written assignment, project, test). Other considerations include the use of:

Assessment instructions

When developing the assessment, consideration should be given to how the assessment minimises the potential for plagiarism – both deliberate and inadvertent. Assessment should be interesting and challenging for students. The assessment name as well as the assessment instructions needs to be clear and specific. Instructions should be made available to students as early as possible – ideally at the start of the course.

Key information to include in the instructions is:

Assessment types and formats

Assessment types include:

  • Descriptive – provide information of facts related to learning content
  • Analytical – unpack and organise information in multiple sources
  • Reflective – reflect on personal experiences, opinions, events and learning
  • Persuasive – present one or more perspective(s) on a topic to persuade others
  • Creative – create original, imaginary responses to narratives
  • Responsive – respond to hypothetical situations or scenarios; often taking on a vocational role
  • Design-based – design or plan a new text, resource or solution
  • Engagement-based – engage in learning opportunities (eg attend group meetings, contribute to group discussions)

Each assessment type has several possible assessment formats, and it is important to be specific in your choice of format and assessment name to avoid confusion. This article by Michael D. Sankey provides examples of some of the assessment formats that can be used to assess student learning. It is not an exhaustive list and other assessment formats can, and are, used in Lincoln University courses.

Akoraka | Learn has several activities that can be used for different assessment formats. Many of the Akoraka | Learn activities can be used for group assessment, however some are more suited than others. For more guidance on using Akoraka | Learn for assessment see Ākona te Akoraka | Learn about Learn. Other teaching tools can also be used for assessment.

Performance criteria and marking rubrics

All assessment tasks should be designed and marked against criteria that is linked to the course learning outcomes.

One approach to use to help identify your performance criteria is to think about the best and worst student work and identify the specific characteristics that made it that way – eg clarity, originality, organisation, formatting, use of evidence.

It is important to clearly articulate to students prior to submission the performance criteria for each assessment item. This will help to avoid unnecessary confusion about expectations, set the standard for students to meet, motivate students to improve their performance, enable students to self-assess and review their work as they complete the assessment, and help you to clarify your assessment instructions. At a minimum, the criterion, the expected qualities and the marks allocated should be specified. However, the best approach is to provide students with the full marking rubric.

A marking rubric describes, for each performance criterion, the expected qualities and characteristics at different levels of performance. Cells in the marking rubric should contain a description of the characteristics expected at that level and the marks allocated. This provides students with clarity about the expected depth and breadth of the knowledge and skills to be demonstrated.

If you are using a team of markers, a marking rubric should be used. The lead marker should discuss the marking rubric with the marking team, prior to the marking, to reach agreement on the interpretation of the characteristics for each level of performance. It is also important that the lead marker undertake a moderation exercise by independently assessing a sample of assessments and discussing the outcome with the appointed marker, and by comparing a sample of the first items assessed with the last items assessed.

There are many formats for marking rubrics – ask your students for feedback on your marking rubric.


Moderation is a process whereby another party reviews assessment activities for, inter alia, appropriateness of content consistent with learning outcomes, levels, clarity of assessment instructions, marking criteria, marking guidelines or marking rubrics.

Moderators are responsible for assessing whether the proposed assessment item is:

  • consistent with the assessed learning outcomes, at the level of the course.
  • achievable in the context of the assessment event
  • unambiguous and clearly conveys what is required in the response.

Moderation may be performed internally (within the University) or externally (by parties external to the University). Internal moderation must be undertaken on all assessments worth 10% or more of the course grade prior to the assessment becoming available to students. Smaller assessments may also be moderated, and this may be required depending on the Faculty/Division or programme of study that your course contributes to. External moderation is a form of benchmarking involving an outside party, sometimes required for the University’s accreditation. External moderation may be undertaken after the assessment task has been completed and may also include a review of student work and marking. 


Feedback is a mechanism for informing students of how well they have demonstrated competence in the performance criteria. Feedback should assist students with their learning and help them improve their performance. To do so, feedback needs to be more than whether the answer was correct or incorrect – explain what the correct answer is and why, or redirect students to where they can find the correct answer.

Feedback can be provided through the marks allocated, the marking rubric, provision of model answers, markers comments on individual student work and overall feedback to all students in the course. The nature of feedback will depend on the assessment task, its timing and its weighting. Feedback is often provided in written format, but you could use audio or video to share your thoughts with your students.

It is important to try to provide feedback on all pieces of in-term assessment in such a way that it facilitates student learning. Try to provide feedback as soon as possible, normally within three weeks of the date of submission, so that it can be of use for subsequent assessment items both in your course and in other courses.