Aarhus Universitets segl

Info about assessment

There are a number of considerations when designing assessments/exams for a course module.  

Purpose of assessment

Assessments have three main functions (From Carless, 2015)

  1.  To support student learning by:
           a. Facilitating that students are engaged
           b. Involving students in appropriate and purposeful learning activities
           c. Providing timely feedback
           d. Helping students to apply and understand standards and quality with in the discipline
  2. To judge the quality of student achievements by assigning grades/marks
  3. To satisfy the needs or demands of accountability of the course module or programme in relation to external partners

 Carless, D., 2015. Excellence in University Assessment. Routledge. London

Planning assessments

The planning of assessments can be approached from several points of departure. Here the focus is on your considerations regarding the course you are teaching.

Questions to be consider for you as course lecturer when planning course assessment could be the following.

Is the assessment:

  1. testing all the course learning outcomes?
  2. testing the learning outcomes at the right point in time (continuous or final assessment)?
  3. reflecting the teaching methods used during the course?
  4. engaging students in purposeful activities and supporting student learning?
  5. providing feedback to students about their learning and how to improve their learning?
  6. providing feedback to you about student learning and the effectiveness of the teaching?
  7. time efficient for the students and/or the course lecturer?
  8. sufficiently enabled/supported by technology?
  9. fair and reliable?

Assessment regulation and guidelines

Formal requirements for assessment

The assessment for a specific course is described in the academic regulations and/or in the course catalogue (guidelines at Nat and Tech, AU – only in Danish).

The assessments should follow the “Ministerial order on university examination and grading” and the “Ministerial order on the grading system”



The Ministerial order on University examination/assessment is brief and to the point.

  • Exam assesses students’ achievement of learning outcomes of the course
  • A programme should contain a variety of exam/assessment forms
  • Assessments should reflect content and working methods of the course
  • Written assignments, oral presentation etc. performed during the course can contribute to the final grade (Ministerial order form 30. June 2016, only in Danish)


Assessment must be in alignment with the learning outcomes and the ongoing teaching and learning activities. An aligned assessment could for instance be the following: You teach programming in computer science (or other practical skills) and you assess your students on their actual practical programming skills and not on their ability to write about how they would program. Teaching and learning activities also train the students’ programming skills and allow the students to get feedback.  

Core concepts in assessment

It is valuable to be familiar with a few core concepts. Assessment is summative when the purpose is to grade student achievements. Summative assessment is normally a final assessment/exam. For many Danish teachers, it is the most natural way to assess, as it concludes about the students’ achievements of the course in its whole. For the student though, it represents a ‘high stakes’ test situation, and is does not directly support their learning through the semester. That is why some teachers reach out for continuous assessment, which means that some teaching and learning activities during the course module are assessed and thus “count” with or without a final assessment. A summative assessment has validity when it measures whether students achieve the intended learning outcomes and reliability when it’s judgments are fair and objective.

Assessment can however also be formative, when it is used to provide feedback to the  students on how they are doing and how they can improve.