New assessment resources: assessment briefs and programme perspectives

We have recently added two new assessment resources to the Effective Practice branch of our Teaching and Learning site.

Both of these draw on the outputs and findings from our Assessment and Feedback Sprints. These brought together student, academic and PS colleagues to tackle common issues that student experience with assessment.

In this post we’ll fill you in on the background to new resources.

Assessment briefs

Sprint 4 was all about Student Transitions – highlighting the real differences between assessment at school and the expectations of University. One of the sprint team’s outputs was student facing poster comparing the differences between these two settings. We set out to explore the University perspective – what can we do to make assessment clearer to students. Under Sarah Graham’s oversight we gathered together LTDS and Library colleagues to find out what we could do when presenting and writing assessments to make it easier for students.

  • Michelle kept us on track, checked in with scholarship and drafted principles
  • Matt and Glen delved into our Stage 1 Canvas modules to find examples of good assessment briefs and to detail key things we could learn from these.
  • Module leaders responded generously to our requests to share examples. (It was great to see some that derived from templates agreed at school level.)
  • Maddie and Matt created a Canvas assessment template with placeholders to act as prompts. If all goes well, we’ll be using this as a starting point in conversations around the 2024/25 Canvas Blueprints.
  • Gemma looked over the common concerns that students brought to the Academic Skills Team and flipped this to describe how to author assessment tasks and avoid these stress inducing pitfalls.

Although our initial focus had been transitioning students we realised that what we had created was pertinent at all levels – hence we’ve published this as a generic resource!

View the resource: Writing an Effective Assessment Brief | Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle | Newcastle University (

As a final step, we drafted an outline for a workshop that we could deliver to programme teams and academic schools.

Programme Focussed Assessment

Our modular degree programmes bring flexibility and efficiency, but can lead to a compartmentalised approach to learning where students struggle to see the connections between their learning across modules. It was this issue that we wrestled with in Sprint 5:

How do we articulate a meaningful programme experience that ensures a cohesive assessment journey for all our students?

Problem Statement

NB: You may already have seen two of the outputs from this sprint already on our blog: visualising programme assessment and enabling students to plan and reflect on programme level assessment

Our second web resource zooms out to take a programme level view of assessment, starting with six principles and then offering practical suggestions on how to review assessments from a programme perspective.

Key principles

  1. Assessments at module level contribute to programme level learning outcomes. 
  2. The linkage between assessment tasks across the stage and programme are clear to students. 
  3. The assessment mix supports student skill development – assessments are authentic, relevant and diverse.  
  4. The assessment workload for students is manageable over each stage.  
  5. Assessments are spaced so that students have opportunities to act on feedback.   
  6. The programme team negotiate shared feedback practices.  

To find out more go to Programme Focussed Assessment | Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle | Newcastle University (

Get in touch

Do get in touch with your feedback, talk to us about workshop and facilitation plans and about running sessions in your school.

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