Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.


Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience.


In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

Using Blackboard Tests:

Research shows that tests and quizzes dramatically improve students’ learning. They are also particularly useful for ascertaining students’ comprehension and understanding of their teaching material.

In this practical session, we will introduce you to the steps involved in creating a test or quiz in your module, talking you through assessment and question design, as well as providing guidance on the appropriate questions to select.

Designing out Plagiarism:

Plagiarism and unacceptable academic practice are areas of concern for both staff and students in HE. Recent media coverage of topics such as essay mills has raised the issue on a wider scale.

This session will give participants a chance to discuss how to develop assessments which ‘design out plagiarism’. We will look at different types of assessment which are harder for students to ‘cut and paste’ information from other sources.

Strategies for engaging students with feedback and feedback design:

Ensuring that students engage with their feedback is key to their progression and development. In this workshop, we will be looking at strategies for feedback linked to assessment design. For Naomi Winstone, “even the highest-quality feedback on students’ work will not have an impact on their development unless students actively engage with and implement the advice” (2020).  

This workshop is comprised of 3 parts:

  1. Part 1 will ask participants to reflect on the topics from Naomi’s presentation
  2. Part 2 gives participants the opportunity to evaluate examples of feedback
  3. Part 3 will ask participants to consider their own feedback practices and establish an action plan

Grading Efficiency and Reliability – Designing Blackboard and Turnitin Rubrics:

Rubrics have been shown to improve grading reliability (Oakleaf, 2009; Thaler, Kazemi, & Huscher, 2009, Timmerman, Strickland, Johnson, & Payne, 2011) as well as make it easier for students to understand their performance and develop self-assessment skills (Reddy & Andrade, 2010).

This session presents a rationale for using grading rubrics and introduces Blackboard rubric tools which can be used for marking Blackboard assignment, wikis, discussion board, tests and other tools. It also includes ‘rubric workshop’ time allowing teaching staff to design or revisit their rubrics based on the principles of good practice presented.

Aligned Teaching and Assessment Design:

Aligned teaching is high on the agenda for HE in the UK, as noted in QAA’s UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance: Assessment (2018). Our interactive workshop builds on these principles as developed by Brown and Sambell and gives you the opportunity to apply them to your own modules. In order to get the most out of this session, you will need to do a short preparation task.

We will compile your learning outcomes, revise them as necessary, and use them as the basis for a live collaborative activity. During the session, the whole group will choose from the list of outcomes and design aligned assessments with ideas for marking criteria.

Designing Anxiety-free Assessments

Assessment anxiety is linked to a reduction in performance and more importantly can be detrimental to students’ mental health. A recent review of the literature concerning anxiety for education assessments indicated that features of the assessment itself can impact the degree of anxiety experienced by students (Howard, 2020).

In this session, we will look at the causes of assessment anxiety and ways in which they could be addressed in assessment design and implementation. By the end of the session, each participant will be able to make small changes to their existing and future assessments to reduce students’ anxiety. 

Using Panopto for Assignments:

In this session we will cover the process of setting up assignments in Panopto and their effective deployment and management in Blackboard. We will also explore assignment design considerations.

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