Prepare for it!

What are you being asked to do?

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Your assessments are an opportunity, not just to demonstrate your skills and knowledge, but to learn new ways of thinking and communicating, and to get feedback on these. This is an interactive process, involving you in dialogue with your tutors and peers. For example, during an assessment you may develop your approach to analysing evidence and forming conclusions. Your tutor will give you a mark and feedback that tells you which analyses and conclusion worked well, and which could be further developed. Feedback is, therefore, an essential, ongoing part of the learning process - helping you develop confidence and academic skills and practices for future learning.

Do I understand what is expected of me for this assignment and how it will be assessed?

The first step in preparing for an assessment is to understand what is expected of you. This is also important for understanding the feedback you receive. Doing 'well' will depend on you working out and understanding the following:

  • What is the assignment really asking you to do?
  • What further research will you need to do?
  • What would a 'good' assignment look like in terms of focus, evidence, presentation?
  • What particular themes would you focus on and why?
  • If there are particular sections (e.g. in a formal report), what will you need to do well in each section?

Find all the relevant information you can about the assessment - such as the assessment brief or instructions, assessment criteria, and other helpful guidance about format, structure and referencing styles in your discipline. These are likely to be found under 'Materials and Activities' or 'Assessments'  on your Blackboard Modules. You may additionally receive informal verbal guidance within lectures or tutorials - so listen out for it! Lastly, try to find an example of what you are trying to produce, for example:

  • If you are writing an essay, you could look at literature reviews, opinion pieces or dissertations within your discipline.
  • If you are writing a scientific report, you could look at comparable research articles.
  • If you are creating a poster, you could identify examples of academic posters in your discipline.
  • If you are producing a more unusual or specific form of writing, such as an Object Study or a blog, you could try to look for examples of these instead.


How will I receive feedback and what do I do with it?

Feedback comes in a variety of forms. In fact, any situation where you put forward your ideas, and someone gives you comments on those ideas, is feedback - and you can learn from this! Feedback doesn't just come on a sheet marked 'Assignment Feedback' - it can be spoken, a discussion, given by friends, demonstrators, it can be general feedback to a whole class, or it can be electronic.Often feedback can take the following forms:

  • SUMMATIVE: Measuring the level of success with a grade for a whole module or assignment.
  • FORMATIVE:Qualitative comments that focus on aspects such as the content, structure and organisation of the work that are used to improve future performance.
  • ORAL FEEDBACK: One-to-one feedback with staff; group discussion in tutorials, seminars, lectures and labs.
  • WHOLE CLASS EXAM FEEDBACK: Exam feedback and review sessions; written feedback.
  • PEER REVIEW AND SELF-ASSESSMENT: Peer marking and discussion; reflecting on your own progress.

Notice when you're given feedback, make sure you can access it, and make use of it!

How will you access the feedback?

Find out how to access feedback on Blackboard.

But - you might be given in feedback in other forms, even written cover-sheets, so it's important you find out how you can get hold of it. If you still can't access your feedback contact your module convener for further help.


Feedback as dialogue

Discussion with friends, lecturers and advisers is a great way to help you understand an area in more detail - this also applies to preparing for an assignment and preparing for feedback. Have a chat with someone about what the assignment is really asking you to do, and what the marking criteria mean. You can also discuss your plan of how you will approach your assignment, and how long you might spend on each stage of writing. They may have a different way of looking at things, which can be a valuable insight.


Next: Understand it >>

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