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Week 7: assessment (notes)

Two core functions of assessment:.

1) organisational assurance: we want to know if they know what we think they should know, and we want to know if they know it at a certain level. That is a lot of ‘knowing’.

2) student-centred. Do students know what they know, and do they know what they don’t (currently) know.

These two core functions don’t always work well together and indeed must be balanced. An over-emphasis of one will likely detract from the other. An over-emphasis on organisational assurance will likely have a negative impact on transactional distance. An over-emphasis on the student-centred learning, at least in its extreme, might pull away from engaged learning communities and engaged online teaching. There is a balance to be had here.

Linking assessment to a coherent and authentic context is critical. Authentic assessments “are based on tasks that require students to demonstrate practices, behaviours, and skills that are required of professional practitioners” (James & Casidy, 2016, 3).

The online medium itself lends itself to a variety of assessment forms, all of which should “focus academic development and course design around building exceptional learning experiences” rather than merely measuring performance. Audio, video, text on the course site or on individual blogs are all available to you. For the sake of reflection, could any of the following be meaningfully applied to your discipline? Do these have any impact on transactional distance? Can you suggest an alternative or two? Post to the discussion board with some initial thoughts. 

  • An online portfolio of student’s work collected at intervals over the duration of the course submitted with a covering letter discussing the rationale for its design: we could do that for the portfolio of translations. 
  • A Padlet or Thinglink as a mindmap of course concepts and emerging thinking along with a design rationale: could do that for the main course on theories? Or for option courses?
  • Using Mediahopper to host student podcasts created as assessments: perhaps for some of the option courses (TS2 or Translation and Creativity).

Other ways:

  • A simulation where students must make a series of choices through a decision tree with feedback provided at each decision.
  • A multiple-choice quiz weekly or at the end of each section during the course.
  • Wikipedia entry on a new topic.
  • An Open Educational Resource (OER) group authored on a blog around a topic of immediate relevance to a local community.
  • A defined research proposal for submission to a PhD programme.


Length of assessment: ‘Consider strict word limits or equivalent metrics, ones that skew lower than what has traditionally been the case at the University of Edinburgh. These are not meant to constrain the student unnecessarily, but to indicate what is expected, clearly and unequivocally. Clear grading criteria, even if not numeric, is expected as well. Use a small number of categories as criteria; iterate each time you teach the course’


Criteria for peer- assessment:

Generic categories:

Communication (are ideas effectively communicated?), Criticality (are ideas critically examined?), Academic Structure (are ideas supported with evidence or research?), and Innovation, Creativity, or Multimodality (are ideas presented with originality?).


2 replies to “Week 7: assessment (notes)”

  1. Michael Gallagher says:

    Hello there Charlotte. All very well thought out here.

    “Communication (are ideas effectively communicated?), Criticality (are ideas critically examined?), Academic Structure (are ideas supported with evidence or research?), and Innovation, Creativity, or Multimodality (are ideas presented with originality?).”

    Those are some great idea, I think. Even if imperfect, if done repeatedly a feedback literacy emerges here. I might consider a simple rubric template that the peer can feed into (or maybe even audio recording of their feedback against these criteria.)

  2. cbosseau says:

    Thank you Michael!

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