Co-creating Assessment with Students: ‘Backward Design’, Agency and Assessment Clarity


by Dr Richard Wallis and Dr Ashley Woodfall


It’s that time of year when, as teaching staff, we’re working to bring student understanding of unit assessment to the fore. There are many things that can cloud that understanding. Sometimes we might feel that student disengagement is at play, and however many times we point students toward the brief (RTM!) they just don’t pay attention. There might though be issues in terms of clarity within the briefs themselves? Perhaps they are cluttered and overcomplicated (the outcome of accretion over the years)? And problematically perhaps, the assessment design may not actually be as well aligned to the aims and intended learning outcomes (ILOs) of the unit as it might?

In addressing these questions, a group of cross-faculty colleagues and undergraduate students came together for an exploratory workshop. Drawing on principles of ‘backward design’, our collective aim was to consider ways in which the co-creation of unit assessment could ensure that assessment is aligned to the actual ILOs, but also to encourage student understanding of, and agency within, assessment and the assessment processes.

Thanks to a CEL Innovation Award, Fiona Cusack, Tom Davis, Kathryn McDonald, Richard Wallis (joint PI) and Ashley Woodfall (joint PI), from across SciTech, HSS, and FMC, spent a day with students examining a series of units from each of our faculties. This process was captured by a team of BA Media Production students.  To see their work, and to find out more about the project, go to

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