Text over an image of the Bristol skyline. BILT Case Study. Bex Pike, Sheila Amici-Dargan, Rose Murray. School of Biological Sciences.
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Improving assessment literacy – introducing am online interactive Assessment & Feedback Portfolio to the School of Biological Science

A case study created as part of a Education Development Project with BILT in 2022/23.

The Practice 

Assessment is one of the key drivers of student learning. However, assessment and feedback continue to burden the higher education sector with low opinion from the student body e.g. NSS scores.  

The focus of our project is to improve student and staff assessment literacy and student engagement with feedback. If the project is successful in its aims, then we will be attempting to tackle one of the most critical areas of higher education practice in the sector.  

To do this, we co-created with student partners an online interactive Assessment and Feedback Portfolio (AFP) (See Figure 1) which we introduced to the School of Biological Sciences in the Autumn of 2021. 

Figure 1. Infographic showing the suggested workflow for using the tools within the Assessment and Feedback Portfolio. 

The AFP is a collection of tools within three sections: 

Assessment Overview. 

  • An Assessment Landscape (Figure 2) – a visual tool providing with information on assessments including: the respective weighting of assessments, an assessment timeline with key dates of when assessments are released/due, the skills being tested in each assessment, and links to the marking criteria and examples of the feedback students can expect. This allows students to plan their workload and see how long they have to apply formative feedback to summative feedback. 
  • Assessment journey map (Figure 3) – An infographic which helps students see which core and specialist skills are developed for different kinds of assessment within the mandatory units in years 1-4. 

Understanding the Skills Involved. 

  • A Glossary of key ‘core’ and ‘specialist’ skills students are to develop with linked resources to allow students to self-regulate their learning (Figure 4). 
  • An infographic demonstrating which assessments students are to apply skills (Figure 5). 

Feedback Reflection and Engagement. 

  • An Interactive Feedback Logbook (IFL) for students to collate and engage with their feedback and track their skill development. 
  • Feedback Cafe – A regular opportunity for students to discuss their assessment and feedback in depth with academic staff, study skills advisors and student study skills advocates.  
  • Feedback Handbook and Feedback Analysis Tool to support students to self-understand their feedback and how to feedforward.  

The AFP and Feedback Cafe initiatives have been built with published research in mind, from work on assessment and feedback literacy, Boud’s double duty of assessment, to Naomi Winstone’s DEFT tool kit and FEATS project.  

The AFP is an important addition to our offering within the School as it develops assessment literacy by enabling students to take responsibility for organizing their own learning and to self-understand assessments and feedback.  

The AFP is available to students electronically through Blackboard at the onset of their degree programme and throughout. 

The use of the AFP was open to all students within the School and was voluntary to engage with. Student groups were introduced to the AFP through lectures, emails, posters and through the tutorial programme. 

The creation and management of the AFP was possible due to small grants to employ students as partners. Students co-designed the AFP and it’s tools. Time is required at the beginning of the academic year to update the information within the AFP which is a workload cost for those managing the AFP. Staff were required to provide information regarding assessments and feedback within their unit which was collected using a short online form. This was a small, but additional workload cost to staff. 

The Impact 

We evaluated the impact of the AFP through a series of voluntary online surveys and focus groups.  

The use of the tools within the AFP was mixed with some students reporting they used the tools to their full advantage whilst others were unaware the tools were available. For those that used the tools they used them often and found them helpful in understanding their assessments and understanding their main strengths and weaknesses more clearly by reviewing multiple pieces of feedback together. Students reported the assessment landscape and the glossary of skills definitions to be the more useful tools within the AFP. 

Next Steps 

A barrier to the use of the AFP was the visibility of the tools on Blackboard and student awareness. For the coming academic year, we will further embed the use of the AFP within the tutorial programme and have embedded the use of the AFP within the curriculum, as part of a summative assessment in third-year. We hope these changes will increase the use and therefore the impact of the tools, given that they have been found to be useful for students that do engage. 

So far the AFP been adopted by a postgraduate programme and the Feedback Café has been adopted by other Schools within the University. The project is being shared as a case study within the ERASMUS+ EAT project in hopes reach a wider and international audience. 

The principle design of the AFP is easily transferable and would be able to be employed by any programme to improve assessment & feedback literacy for their students and staff. 


Dr Bex Pike (Senior Lecturer), Dr Sheila Amici-Dargan (Associate Professor), Dr Rose Murray (Senior Lecturer) in the School of Biological Sciences, UoB. 

Additional Figures (see description below).

Top row, fig. Figure 2. (a), (b), (c): Assessment landscape for Teaching Block 1 of Year 1. Each assessment landscape contains: (a) An overview, (b) A page for each unit including the Intended Learning Outcomes for the unit, assessment weightings and graphic of skills required for each assessment, (c) A page for each individual assesmsment including the marking criteria, example of the feedback to expect, a suggested workflow, the skills being assessed, information about the assessment including the format, word limit, release date and deadline, advice on feedback to revist and apply to the assessment, and opportunities to feedforward.

Middle row, left, centre: Figure 3. Assessment Journey Map infographic.

Middle row, right: Figure 4. A Glossary of key ‘core’ and ‘specialist’ skills students are to develop with linked resources to allow students to self-regulate their learning

Bottom image: Figure 5. An infographic demonstrating which assessments students are to apply skills

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