Assessment is a core academic activity and an essential component of the learning and teaching process.
- design and specification of activities or tasks that students undertake to support their learning;
- provision of feedback as guidance for students' learning;
- moderation of assessment activities;
- award of marks or grades; and
- determination and award of final result grades.
This policy sets out the principles that underpin ACU’s approach to assessment.
This policy applies to:
- all coursework units offered by ACU, including professional experience units, off-shore units and those coursework units completed as part of an honours or research degree;
- students undertaking such units;
- academic and/or professional staff with responsibility for designing, administering or making decisions relating to assessment.
The Policy does not apply to examination of research theses to which the High Degree Research Regulations apply.
Terms used in this policy and the associated procedures are consistent with the ACU Glossary of Terms. In addition, the following words and expressions have the meanings listed below:
Assessment: Assessment is the process of evaluating students’ performance to ascertain the extent to which they have met the prescribed learning outcomes of the task (and thus contribute to the achievement of the learning outcomes of the unit and the course). Assessment enables students to monitor their progress and determines the academic results in a unit of study.
Assessment schedule: The series of assessment tasks comprising the total assessment for a unit.
Assessment tasks: The single components of an assessment schedule.
Criterion-referenced assessment: Assessment based on pre-determined and clearly articulated criteria which are directly drawn from the unit learning outcomes.
Due date: The date and time by which an assessment task must be submitted.
Graded Hurdles: Graded hurdles are generally larger more complex tasks than ungraded hurdles. These larger tasks are most appropriately assessed in a graded way so that the marks accrued intentionally contribute to the overall mark and grade for the unit. In this way, the overall unit mark and overall unit grade reflect the student’s standard of performance across all graded tasks. Graded hurdle tasks include, in whole or in part, a component that must be completed to above a minimum standard in order to pass the unit as a whole.
Hurdle task: A task or activity (i.e something a student has to do), that is related to the assessment of students' achievement of one or more Learning Outcomes of the unit, and in which a student must achieve at least a passing standard in order to pass the unit.
Learning outcomes: Learning outcomes are the expression of the set of knowledge, skills and the application of the knowledge and skills a person has acquired and is able to demonstrate as a result of learning.
Moderation (of assessment): A quality review and assurance process which supports assessment design and marking activities. It involves confirmation that the assessment tasks and marking are valid, equitable and reliable.
Rubric: A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work.
Standards: A framework which explains what can be expected at different levels of achievement of a learning outcome.
Ungraded Hurdles: Ungraded hurdles are generally small discrete tasks that are most appropriately assessed as pass or fail. Examples are: the correct calculation of a drug dose; or undertaking a specific technique that must be completed in a specific way (usually for safety reasons).
Assessment must be designed to contribute to high quality student learning and underpin the development, delivery and quality assurance of units and courses. Assessment should both help students learn (assessment for learning) and measure explicit evidence of their learning (assessment of learning).
- must be standards-based and provide evidence of the level of achievement with respect to learning outcomes and graduate attributes;
- must be a transparent process carried out with honesty, integrity and confidentiality in line with the Mission of the University;
- is integral to pedagogically informed learning and teaching;
- must comprise a variety of tasks which are reasonably achievable by students; and
- must be fair, inclusive and equitable for all students.
5.1 Standards based, criterion-referenced assessment
Assessment marking and grading will be criterion-referenced and will use standard-based grading. Criteria and standards of achievement are set in advance of teaching and assessment. Student performance is evaluated according to those criteria and set standards.
5.2 Number and weighting of assessment tasks
The assessment schedule for any one 10 credit point unit must be limited to a maximum of three summative assessment tasks. Thus, an ungraded hurdle does not count in the 3, a graded hurdle task does. Unless justified and approved by the relevant Committee, no individual assessment task should have a weighting of more than 50 percent of the total assessment in a unit. "Relevant Committee" is usually a Faculty Board (or equivalent). For the Core Curriculum it is the "Core Curriculum Steering Committee".
5.3 Hurdle tasks
A hurdle task may be included within individual units as a compulsory requisite that must be met in order to pass the unit. Where used, hurdle tasks are to be justified by inclusion of an explanation that appears in the “Assessment strategy and rationale” section of the Generic Unit Outline and within the “Requirements to achieve a pass” section of the Extended Unit Outline.
Hurdle tasks can either be marked on a pass/fail basis (ungraded hurdle) or given a numerical mark (graded hurdle).
Ungraded hurdle tasks carry zero marks and therefore do not contribute either to the overall unit mark or to the overall unit grade to be awarded.
Graded hurdle tasks carry a number of marks that must be designated in the extended unit outline. If a graded hurdle is passed, then the number of marks awarded contributes to the overall mark and grade for the unit. When graded hurdles are used, the pass mark must be specified in the extended unit outline. This will normally be a minimum of 50%.
Examples of graded hurdle tasks are:
- undertaking a therapeutic technique which itself can be graded, but which must at least be undertaken in a manner that is safe;
- completing an assignment that is the only assignment to assess one or more of the learning outcomes of a unit;
- completing an assignment that is the final assessment of a unit when that assessment is superordinate to all preceding assessments and the standard of achievement on that assessment alone must exceed a minimum threshold of student capability.
Students are allowed one attempt at each graded hurdle task. One additional attempt may be offered under conditions specified in the university’s assessment procedures document accompanying this policy.
All hurdle tasks must be used sparingly, particularly graded hurdles that cannot be repeated. Hurdle tasks must only be used when a compelling rationale to justify the hurdle is provided in the extended unit outline.
Hurdle tasks are not to be confused with “Compulsory requirements” or “Inherent requirements”. These each have specific definitions within ACU policy.
5.4 Requirements to achieve a pass
To pass a unit, students must demonstrate that they have achieved each and every learning outcomes to a minimum passing standard or better, and passed any hurdle tasks. This may or may not require students to complete every assessment item. The “requirements to achieve a pass” section in the extended unit outline must explain to students the minimum assessment requirements necessary for this determination to be reliably and validly made. A student cannot pass a unit if they have not demonstrated achievement of one or more learning outcomes to a minimum passing standard.
When an assignment is the only assignment to assess a particular learning outcome in a unit then it must be passed for the student to achieve a pass in the unit. Otherwise, achievement of a pass in all individual assessment tasks in a unit (other than hurdle requirements), is not normally a prerequisite for passing in the unit overall.
However, when the assessment regime as a whole relates to the assessment of required discipline specific competency standards, the requirement to pass specific individual items of assessment in order to pass the unit must be clearly stated in the Extended Unit Outline.
Quality assurance of assessment should occur at both the course and the unit level. Faculties are responsible for establishing a quality assurance regime for the assessment in courses and units. This will include both internal and external moderation and benchmarking of assessment.
6.1 Quality assurance of assessment must be maintained at every stage of the assessment cycle.
6.2 Assessment tasks must be subject to routine assessment moderation processes and review through consensus moderation practices, including peer review, to ensure that they reflect appropriate assessment design and grading.
6.3 As part of the ACU Quality Management Policy professional development opportunities that are related to design, implementation and moderation of assessment should be provided to staff.
7.1 Assessment tasks, including marking criteria, must be clearly communicated to students in the Extended Unit Outline at the commencement of the study period in which the unit is being undertaken.
7.2 Changes to the assessment tasks after a Unit Outline has been published are only permitted with the written permission of the National Head of School or their delegate. Students will be notified via LEO and/or student email by the National Head of School or delegate.
8.1 Marks are not awarded for attendance.
8.2 Compulsory or minimum levels of attendance may be prescribed for any professional experience or community experience program or any practical, laboratory or skill-based classes in which attendance is integral to achievement of the learning outcomes of the unit.
8.3 In any case where compulsory or minimum levels of attendance are prescribed in accordance with Section 8.2, the attendance requirements must be clearly stated in the Unit Outline, together with the reasons why attendance is required, the consequences of not meeting those requirements and the procedures to be followed should a student fail to attend any required class due to illness and/or personal circumstances beyond their control.
8.4 The Lecturer in Charge must keep attendance records for all classes in units where a compulsory or minimum attendance level is prescribed.
9.1 Students must be advised of submission requirements for assessment tasks via the Unit Outline.
9.2 Following formal submission, students may not resubmit an assessment task in an attempt to improve the result in that assessment task.
9.3 Penalties will be applied for late submission of assessment tasks.
10.1 Special provision may be made in cases of disability, long and short term illness, chronic and temporary illness or other major disruptions to study which affect a student’s ability to submit an assessment task.
10.2 Special provision may be made in cases of cultural leave for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students which affect a student’s ability to submit an assessment task.
10.3 Special provisions may include extension of submission date, alternative assessment, examination adjustments, deferred examinations or other special adjustments.
10.4 Applications for special provisions must be made using the prescribed form and include any required supporting evidence in accordance with the Assessment Procedures.
Refer to Assessment Procedures (Table 2) for further details.
11.1 A student can request clarification of their results for an assessment task or final result in a unit from the Lecturer in Charge.
11.2 A decision made on the performance of a student in any component of assessment which is based on academic or professional judgement cannot be subject to a formal review or appeal.
11.3 Where there has been an alleged failure to comply with the requirements of this Policy or Procedures, a student may request a formal review or appeal in accordance with the Student Appeals Policy.
Faculties may develop faculty-level protocols on assessment to further define expectations relevant to professional accreditation or disciplinary practices or to clarify normal operational parameters.
Any such Faculty assessment protocols must be:
- consistent with and subordinate to the University Assessment Policy and Assessment Procedures; and
- published and communicated to students prior to the commencement of the study period in which the unit is being undertaken and must remain in place for the study period in which the unit is being offered.
The following table (Table 1) represents the University final grade descriptors for units in a course of study. They represent the overall achievement of the student in that unit. For a full description of all available grades, including administrative grades, see Academic Regulations.
Table 1. University final grade descriptors for units
| Final Result|
|Grade Point Value||Descriptors|
|High Distinction||HD||85-100||7||The student provided an exceptionally high quality of performance and through this demonstrated an exceptionally high standard of learning achievement in relation to the unit learning outcomes.|
|Distinction||DI||75-84||6||The student provided a high quality of performance and through this demonstrated a high standard of learning achievement in relation to the unit learning outcomes.|
|Credit||CR||65-74||5||The student provided a sound quality of performance and through this demonstrated a sound standard of learning achievement in relation to the unit learning outcomes.|
|Pass||PA||50-64||4||The student provided an acceptable quality of performance and through this demonstrated an acceptable standard of learning achievement in relation to the unit learning outcomes.|
|Pass Ungraded||PS||The student provided a quality of performance that demonstrated thorough achievement of the unit learning outcomes.|
|Fail Hurdle||NH||49||0||The student provided a quality of performance that demonstrated achievement of some of the learning outcomes, but did not demonstrate achievement of a hurdle requirement. Where a student has failed a hurdle task, but the aggregate mark from all summative items, including graded hurdles, was >50%, the grade to be awarded will be NH and the mark awarded will be re-set to 49%. Where a student has failed a hurdle task, but the aggregate mark was below 50% from all summative items, including graded hurdles, was below 50%, refer to the Fail Grade (NN).|
|Fail Ungraded||NU||0||The student failed to provide a quality of performance that demonstrated thorough achievement of the unit learning outcomes.|
|Fail||NN||0-49||0||The student did not provide a quality of performance that demonstrated an acceptable standard of learning achievement in relation to the unit learning outcomes.|
- Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy, Academic Misconduct Procedures, Framework for Academic Integrity and Promotion of Academic Integrity Procedures
- Academic Regulations
- Assessment Procedures
- English Language Policy
- Examination Policy
- Graduate Attributes
- Research Ethics Policy
- Students with Disabilities Policy and Procedures
- Learning and Teaching Policy
- Student Conduct and Discipline Policy and Procedures
- Supplementary Assessment Guidelines and Information for Students and Staff
Page last updated: 2019-09-30
Short url: https://handbook.acu.edu.au/2315741