Assessment literacy

Assessment literacy is a student’s ability to understand assessment guidelines and judge the quality of their own work. It is a core attribute of an independent and self-regulated learner.

What is it?

Assessment literacy is a student’s capacity to understand assessment instructions and assess the appropriateness of their response to an assessment task. This quality in students can be fostered through a robust assessment design. It is critical that students have opportunities to receive formative feedback before submitting their work for summative grading. For example, a considered inclusion of self-assessment and peer review will give students opportunities to better understand assessment criteria and be better equipped to track their progress and evaluate the quality of their own work. To ensure effectiveness, exercises like this need to be based on a set of clear and relevant criteria. Assessment rubrics can be particularly helpful in structuring self-assessment and peer-review tasks. Active and purposeful engagement with assessment exemplars can also be helpful in making assessment expectations and criteria explicit to students and help them understand and implement feedback. Regular activities to foster assessment literacy will help students develop evaluative judgement and become self-regulated learners.

Why is it useful?

Benefits for students

  • Builds students’ capacity to self-assess and prompts independent learning
  • Develops evaluative judgment through engagement in metacognition
  • Supports students in receiving and implementing formative feedback.

Benefits for educators

  • Reinforces assessment instructions and criteria
  • Facilitates an effective feedback loop between you and your students.

How do I implement it?

To develop your students’ assessment literacy, try these strategies:

  • Engage students in social annotation of assignment exemplars. Be sure to correct any misunderstandings apparent in students’ annotations. This and similar tasks can be set up as hurdles to ensure that all students are on the same page.
  • Promote metacognition through rubric-based and structured self-assessment and peer review exercises. For example, you can set up three-stage assessments where students first assess themselves, then assess their peers before they are assessed by you. This way self-assessment and peer review will offer opportunities for formative feedback and a chance for students to improve their work before the final submission.
  • Create opportunities for students to receive formative feedback and ask questions about their feedback. Developmental and nested assessment designs, where one task leads to the next, facilitate an effective feedback loop between you and your students. This type of assessment design gives students a clear path to use formative feedback and prompts questions about their progress in developing relevant skills and competencies.
  • Submit a ServiceNow request to add the Assessment Literacy Tool to your LMS site. The Assessment Literacy Tool gets students to mark an exemplar assignment and compare their rubric selections and justifications with the responses from the teaching team. Students can engage with this tool as part of a hurdle requirement to not only develop an in-depth understanding of the assignment task but also engage in metacognition and build evaluative judgment.

Supporting technologies

  • FeedbackFruits can facilitate rubric-based self-assessment and peer review. In FeedbackFruits, you can set up feedback criteria through rubrics, scale ratings or free-form comments or use a combination of these tools within a single assessment task. Interactive document tool in FeedbackFruits can also be used to collaboratively annotate assessment exemplars. Both you and students can add in-line questions and start discussion threads within a written document. Interactive video and audio tools can also be used for annotations of video and audio assessment exemplars.
  • Cadmus is an online assessment environment that offers assessment templates for the most common written assignment types. The assessment templates include checklists that guide students through the assessment process and keep them on track and focused on the task at hand. In addition, Cadmus allows submission of assignment drafts, which you can then use to provide cohort-level feedback before the final submission for summative grading.
  • The University’s own Assessment Literacy Tool is an online platform for students to engage with sample assignments and compare their marking decisions with the evaluations provided by the teaching team. The tool allows you to upload a rubric for students to assess a sample assignment against. Importantly, the tool also gets students to justify their selection, thinking through which will help develop their evaluative judgment. Upon providing their justifications and rubric selections, students can compare their responses to the teaching team’s assessment. Submit a ServiceNow request to add the tool to your subject’s LMS site.


This page was last updated on 17 Oct 2022.

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