Good Practice Guides

B2. Assessment Criteria

General Principles:

The University's Code of Practice-Teaching and Assessment requires that clear criteria be developed for marking each assessment task and be made available to students (refer Section 5.1.4)

Criteria for assessment should be:

  • specific to each task
  • clear and sufficiently detailed so as to provide guidance to students undertaking assessment task
  • transparent (i.e. stated in advance – refer section below)
  • justifiable (i.e. linked to learning objectives) and achievable
  • appropriate to weightings
  • where appropriate, supported by a verbal or written statement about what constitutes the various levels of performance (refer example on p. 15).

Specific issues:

Stating Assessment Criteria:

Criteria can be stated in many ways. These depend on the type of assessment task. Sometimes specific criteria for assessment cannot be stated in advance without defeating the purpose of the assessment (by informing the learner of what is to be tested). However, it is desirable that the criteria should be made explicit at some stage (e.g. after the work has been marked). For example, if an examination requires the solving of a mathematical problem, the examiner may require the use of logical methods or particular processes. Students should know this, preferably before, but at least after, they have sat for the examination. If an essay is intended to test a student's ability to organise an argument logically, this should be stated and preferably a statement about what constitutes the various levels of performance should be provided.

How much detail?
The question of how detailed assessment criteria should be is a matter of judgement. It seems that students find very general statements such as 'advanced analytical skills' of little use. On the other hand, as discussed above, it is reductive and counter-productive to try to pin everything down. Nevertheless, general statements may provide a useful guide. They can indicate, for instance, that grammar and spelling will be taken into account, or that a certain range of reference to sources is expected. It is probably helpful to look at some examples from colleagues.

Using Criteria as a basis for standardising marking:

Assessment criteria are the basis for marking. When more than one marker is involved, subject co-ordinators should be mindful that other markers may not necessarily share a common understanding of the assessment question. Clear and specific assessment criteria and discussion of marking schemes will be required in advance.

Linking to Learning Outcomes and Performance Levels:

In drafting assessment criteria, it is important to refer to the student learning outcomes and to give some thought as to how the criteria can be justified and how it will inform feedback to students . When designing criteria, it is also important to check that the performance levels are achievable by students undertaking the subject.

Making all Criteria Explicit:

It is essential that students are made aware that there are global criteria listed in the subject outline that apply to all tasks (eg. penalties for lateness, word lengths, etc). In addition, there may be criteria that are commonly assumed by academics that need to be clearly communicated to students. Examples would include:

  • presentation style: font size, line spacing, margins;
  • mode of expression: grammar, syntax, spelling (when not already documented);
  • ways of referencing.

It is also recommended practice that these criteria are consistently observed, and students be given feedback accordingly. In some instances it may be helpful to have a discussion with students about these kinds of factors which influence an assessment of their work.

Examples of Good Practice


Example from Graduate School of Public Health GHMD924

Assignment 1 :

Analysis and critique of a Health Information System

Due date:

Week 5




Up to 1500 words

Students are required to prepare a report, which critiques one health information system that has been implemented (eg. CHIME, EDIS, DOHRS, AN-SNAP, Acute Episode Funding, Inpatient Statistics Collection, Waiting Times Data Collection, Outpatient Booking System, Midwives Data Collection, Residential Aged Care Collection, Virtual Case Conference) in terms of:

  • conformance with health information standards (ie. vocabulary, structure/content, messaging and security) and
  • the extent to which the use of the health information system links with recent health reforms.

Marking Criteria




Report content

Addresses the questions [30]

Critical use of readings/literature [25]

Evidence of synthesis and use of unifying concepts [20]

Justification of conclusions [10]


Style and organisation of report

Presentation and structure 5%

(Spelling, grammar, introduction and conclusion; the structure, organization and presentation of ideas; the appropriate use of tables, figures and charts; and referencing)



Assessment Criteria

Grading of assignments will be according to the following criteria.

Criterion Range of performance
Marginal Good Excellent
Addresses the questions
Responsiveness to questions/ issues Does not focus on question Generally focussed Interprets question innovatively and maintains focus throughout
Use of readings
Evidence of awareness of key ideas or facts brought out in readings Little or no mention of ideas from readings Mentions key ideas or thoughts from the readings Discusses and critically analyses ideas and theories as applied to assignment (citations helpful)
Justification of conclusions
Conclusions clearly linked to concepts developed within paper Little logic between conclusions and content of paper Conclusions mainly summarise issues raised in paper Conclusions draw main concepts of paper together in a unifying manner; expressed succinctly; makes recommendations for further action
Presentation and structure
Organisation and presentation of ideas. Difficult to follow. Sequence hard to see Clear, crisp logical response. Innovative organisation. Use of charts, diagrams and other materials.

[Adapted from: Jayasuriya R., GHMD924 subject outline]

Last reviewed: 1 March, 2012