Preparing assessments and examinations. Common errors and good practice.

Laurence Leonard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Assessment forms an important part of the student learning experience and students place a high value on the quality of feedback that they receive from academic staff on where they might improve on their examinations or assignments. However while feedback is important the quality of the actual assessment itself before students undertake an examination or commence writing an assignment is also important. It is imperative that students are clear in their understanding of what is expected of them in order to achieve a particular grade and that there is lack of ambiguity in examinations or assignments. Biggs (2003) highlighted the importance of clarity in what students are expected to be able to do at the end of a unit of study, and that intended learning outcomes should be clearly aligned to the assessment and communicated to students so that they can structure their learning activities to optimize their assessment performance. However as Rust (2002) highlighted there are often inconsistencies in assessment practices ranging from a mis-match of assessment and learning outcomes to the inclusion of additional learning criteria and lack of clarity in the instructions. Such inconsistencies and unacceptable errors in examination papers can undermine student confidence in the assessment process
In order to try and minimise such inconsistencies an internal assessment group was set up October 2013 within the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queens University Belfast, consisting of representative academic staff from across the range of undergraduate and post graduate courses in nursing and midwifery. The assessment group was to be a point of reference for all school examinations with a particular remit to develop an assessment strategy for all nursing and midwifery programmes and to ensure that all assessments comply with current best practice and with Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requirements.
This paper aims to highlight some examples of good practice and common errors that were found in assignments and examinations that were submitted to the assessment group for review.

Biggs. J. (2003) Teaching for Quality Learning at University – What the Student Does 2nd Edition SRHE / Open University Press, Buckingham.
Rust, C.( 2002) The impact of assessment on student learning, Active Learning in Higher education Vol3(2):145-158
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2016
EventRCN International Education conference - Tedford, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Mar 201616 Mar 2016


ConferenceRCN International Education conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions(all)


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