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
  • 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
  • Interpret and analyse data from your lab experiment
  • Apply knowledge of the concept of osmosis to the membrane structure
  • Outline the likelihood and impact of risks
  • Explain how the specified use of technology is appropriate for your context, students and discipline

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 University Repositories tool in MyLO - search using the key word 'rubric'. Further information about using MyLO for assessment can be found in the MyLO site Teaching Online in MyLO.