Teaching & Learning

Writing Assessment Criteria

Purpose of Criteria

Assessment criteria provide students with information about the qualities, characteristics and aspects of an assessment task that will be used to measure their attainment of each of the learning outcomes. Criteria make it clear to students what factors will be taken into account when making judgements about their performance. It could be argued that the most direct way students experience what is needed to achieve the unit's learning outcomes is through the assessment criteria.

Therefore, the number of criteria for a single task needs to be suitably small in order to enable students to clearly understand what is expected of them. Criteria define the characteristics of the work or performance, but they do not define how well students must demonstrate those characteristics - that is the job of the standards descriptors.

Examples of a Criterion

  • Advise a client about the options available to them within the civil justice and dispute resolution landscape.
  • Analyse how you apply your teaching beliefs in practice in higher education.
  • Apply user experience techniques and interface design practices to web development.
  • Describe the economic, political and social dimensions of climate change.
  • Discuss the operation of key biochemical pathways in health and disease using appropriate terminology.
  • Explain how the specified use of technology is appropriate for your context, students and discipline.
  • Interpret data from your lab experiment.
  • Justify the theoretical elements and practical strategies of the plan in a rationale that explains your thinking and demonstrates connections to relevant theory and research.
  • Reflect on the relevance of the content to your creative practice.
  • Reflect on your personal beliefs about teaching and learning, within the wider context of higher education.

Elements of a Criterion

From these examples, it is clear that each criterion starts with a verb. This verb indicates to students the level of cognition that is being looked for. The rest of the criterion is similar in many respects to a learning outcome in that it typically provides content (what students should be doing something with) and context. The key to a well-written criterion is that it works as an instruction to students, helping them to understand what they need to do and include in any assessment task (including exams) to meet expectations. When taken together as a group, the set of assessment criteria for any task could be read by anyone and they would have a reasonable level of clarity about what the task involves.

Assessment criteria provide for students the answer to the question, "What do I have to do?", and the standards descriptors provide the answer to the question, "How do I do that?".

The standards descriptors provide further information, in more detail, about what would be required to demonstrate achievement at the different levels. In this way, the pass description explains what students need to do to demonstrate that they meet the learning outcome (as measured by the criterion). The other levels describe a higher level of achievement than is required.

Desktop Guides and other support resources to help you set up and use a rubric in MyLO are available from the MyLO Staff Guides - search using the key word 'rubric'.