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The importance of clarity in written assessment instructions
journal contributionposted on 2019-07-10, 00:00 authored by Sherre RoySherre Roy, Colin BeerColin Beer, Celeste LawsonCeleste Lawson
Much of the contemporary literature around assessment practices in higher education focuses on assessment quality and its fitness for purpose. However, there is limited research around student comprehension of written assessment task descriptions and their understanding of the task itself. The purpose of this study was to examine a number of assessment task descriptions in a higher education institution to ascertain their degree of readability, which is key to student understanding of the assessment task. Three readability indexes were used to assess the readability of assessment task descriptions across 37 large-enrolment higher education units. It was found that the readability of the assessment task descriptions of 20 of the 37 units was poor. This study found a statistically significant correlation between the readability of assessment task descriptions and student satisfaction in post-unit evaluation surveys. No correlation was found between assessment task readability and student success. Student satisfaction for units where the readability of assessment tasks was good, scored higher on average than units where the readability was poor. The implications of this study suggest that universities need to pay more attention to ensuring that assessment task descriptions are understandable by the target audience. © 2018, © 2018 UCU.
Number of Pages13