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Educational assessment is the systematic process of collecting and documenting information about student performance and achievement with an aim to improve on learning and teaching quality. At PolyU, it is an integral part of learning and teaching under the outcome-based education.

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Assessment Methods

Assessment Method_What

What assessment methods do we use?

Many different types of assessment methods could be used in higher education. For each subject or programme, teachers are encouraged to design an assessment plan that employs a variety of assessment activities at different times throughout the semester. The assessment methods chosen should be aligned to both the learning outcomes and the learning activities of the subject or programme.

What do we use assessment for?

Serving a formative assessment purpose:
Assessments that provide information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses, such that it becomes an ongoing part of the whole teaching and learning process.

Serving a summative purpose:
Assessments that provide information about a student’s knowledge and evaluate how much the student has learned after the course.

Click/Tap here for a comparison between formative and summative assessments

Rubric Assessment in Outcome-Based Education (OBE)


What is the role of rubrics in OBE?

Rubrics are used for assessment under the outcome-based approach to learning and teaching. They are criterion-referenced and evaluate how well students have met the assessment criteria of the intended learning outcomes rather than how well they perform compared to their peers. As such, rubrics play a pivotal role in aligning what outcomes to achieve in learning, teaching, and assessment activities.

How do rubrics help with quality assurance?

A rubric provides subject grade qualitative descriptions of student academic standards, which forms a basis for comparing the subject intended learning outcomes offered by similar levels of subjects within the department, as well as in other institutions.

What is PolyU’s Policy on Rubric?

As stated in the Handbook on Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes, Section C1, 4:

Rubrics must be specified for all ‘major’ assessment items [or components/ tasks] at the subject level, made available to students before the assessment, and used for grading the assessment. Departments have the flexibility to determine what is ‘major’. As a rule of thumb:
  • For subjects without examinations, rubrics should be required for single assessment items with a weighting of 30% or above of the subject’s overall assessment.
  • For subjects with examinations, rubrics should be required for single assessment items with a weighting of 20% or above of the subject’s overall assessment.

Click or tap here to access the Handbook on Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes (updated July 2022)


What is an Institutional Level Subject Grade Descriptor (ILSGD)?

An Institutional Level Subject Grade Descriptor (ILSGD) is established to ensure consistency of standards across subjects. It can be used to guide the marking process and assignment of the overall subject grades, as well as clarify expectations for students. The standards to be achieved for each grade should be well aligned among ILSGD, Programme Level Grade Descriptors, Course Level Grade Descriptors and assessment rubrics for grade consistency.

Click or tap here for the ILSGD published in Handbook on Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes (July 2022)

Developing and Evaluating Rubrics


What is a rubric?

A rubric is a tool that conveys expectations of work quality by means of a coherent set of criteria when assessing students’ work. It usually consists of a task description, performance criteria, a rating scale or levels of performance, and grade descriptors.

Why do we use rubrics?

A rubric shows how well students are performing against the criteria set. It also helps to scaffold the development of students’ knowledge and skills in achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Teaching with Rubrics


Why do we teach with rubrics?

Assessment is an integral part of learning and teaching under the outcome-based approach to education. Accordingly, criterion-referenced and performance-based assessment that promotes the use of formative assessment for provision of feedback and that of summative assessment for final evaluation of the quality of student work is encouraged. Rubrics are, among all others, the most commonly adopted criterion-referenced assessment tool in higher education.

Further readings:

Dawson, P. (2017). Assessment rubrics: towards clearer and more replicable design, research and practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42(3), 347-360.

Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448.

Gantt, L. T. (2010). Using the Clark simulation evaluation rubric with associate degree and baccalaureate nursing students. Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(2), 101-105.

Grade Integrity and Grade Consistency


What is grade integrity and grade consistency?

Grade integrity refers to the extent to which the grades are true representations of students’ academic achievement. It requires that grades are awarded based on the students’ achievement of the learning outcomes alone and nothing else.

Grade consistency refers to the degree of agreement in the meaning of the grades assigned to students’ work across assessments, assessors, and assessment contexts. This means that the standard that a grade represents is always the same (within the University) and that students achieving the same academic standards should get the same grades.

Grade integrity and consistency are fundamental to the robust and fair assessment of student learning and the credibility of academic qualifications.


What are some ways to enhance grade integrity and consistency?

To ensure equitable and consistent marking of assessments among all markers, the following strategies could be adopted:

  • Designing assessments that are valid and purposeful (see Assessment Methods)
  • Establishing transparent, clear, and objective assessment criteria and standards (please see Rubrics)
  • Promoting alignment in interpretation and application of assessment criteria and standards across markers/assessors through processes like moderation (See Moderation)
  • Developing consistent and collaborative feedback approaches among assessors (see Feedback)
Grade_Integrity4_Appendix A

What is Moderation?

Moderation involves teachers (and sometimes external experts) in checking, reviewing and/or discussing the design, implementation (or practice) and outcomes of assessment, to ensure that assessments are designed appropriately and marked consistently and fairly. It is a quality assurance process as it helps to ensure:

  • validity and reliability of assessment tasks, criteria, and standards
  • consistency, appropriateness, and fairness of assessment judgments

  • Moderation can also be a professional learning activity for teachers as it encourages:
  • reflection and discussion which deepen teachers’ understanding and knowledge of assessment qualities and standards
  • professional development by setting goals to enhance assessment and grading practices, as well as teaching practices to enhance student learning
Click/tap here for types of moderation (Appendix A)
Click/tap here for examples of moderation activities (Appendix B)
Grade_Integrity5_Appendix C

How important is feedback?

Feedback has a significant impact on students’ learning. It aims to:

  • Recognise and acknowledge specific qualities in student work
  • Provide constructive guidance for students on how to improve their academic performance/ standards
  • Enhance students’ ability to monitor and evaluate their own learning
  • Clarify/elaborate on how students gain/lose marks on each criterion of the assessment rubrics

Click/tap here for principles of giving effective feedback (Appendix C)
Click/tap here for giving feedback at different stages of an assessment (Appendix D)


  • Adie, L., & Klenowski, V. (2016). Moderation and Assessment. In Peters, Michael A. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Springer.
  • Baird, J. A., Greatorex, J., & Bell, J. F. (2004). What makes marking reliable? Experiments with UK examinations. Assessment in education: Principles, policy & practice, 11(3), 331–348.
  • Beaumont, C., O’Doherty, M., & Shannon, L. (2011). Reconceptualising assessment feedback: A key to improving student learning? Studies in Higher Education, 36(6), 671–687.
  • Crimmins, G., Nash, G., Oprescu, F., Alla, K., Brock, G., Hickson-Jamieson, B., & Noakes, C. (2016). Can a systematic assessment moderation process assure the quality and integrity of assessment practice while supporting the professional development of casual academics? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 427-441.
  • Monash University. (2023). Assessment: Marking and Grading. Learning and Teaching: Teach HQ.
  • Ragupathi, K., & Lee, A. (2020). Beyond fairness and consistency in grading: The role of rubrics in higher education. Diversity and inclusion in global higher education: Lessons from across Asia, 73-95.
  • Sadler, D. R. (2010). Fidelity as a precondition for integrity in grading academic achievement. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(6), 727–743.
  • University of New South Wales. (2023). Giving Assessment Feedback. Teaching Practice.
  • Zahra, D., Robinson, I., Roberts, M., Coombes, L., Cockerill, J., & Burr, S. (2017). Rigour in moderation processes is more important than the choice of method. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42(7), 1159–1167.




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