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Course Design Blueprint

What is the meaning of progressive assessment? 

Assessment strategies (compromising the types and numbers of assessment components, the associated workload, and the support provided to students as they engage with the assessment) at each level of courses will reflect the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy's model of learning, with students expected to take more responsibility for the learning and activity involved in assessment at higher levels of study.

Progressive assessment descriptions

At level four, assessment tasks are precisely structured to enable students to understand exactly what is expected of them, with any resources they require to complete the work clearly signposted. Reflecting the transitional nature of level four studies, the amount of summative assessment set for students, particularly within the earlier parts of the year, are limited. This is to enable students to develop resilience and confidence before facing significant formal, assessment challenges. Students are provided with clear guidance and support on how to complete assessment components, along with opportunities to practice and gain feedback on the essential skills and attributes required to complete the assessments, prior to employing them in earnest in summative assessment tasks. /div>
At level five, assessments involve students employing theory and its practical application in combination, typically in tackling detailed and involved scenarios. While the learning outcomes for modules may require multiple assessment components to be set, students will get the opportunity to tackle more involved assessment components counting for the whole weighting of a 20 credit module. Students take some responsibility in determining how their work should be completed and presented, while being able to access advice and support to inform their decision making. However, whenever new types of assessment are introduced to students, they have signposted opportunities to gain support and developmental feedback to enable them to achieve to the best of their ability.
At level six, assessments involve the analysis of complex and sophisticated problems and scenarios in order to develop solutions or recommendations. It is normal for a 20 credit module to incorporate a single assessment component. Students are responsible for determining how they complete their assessment tasks, according to any broad parameters provided. The exploration and discussion of the processes involved in tackling such assessment tasks form an essential element of the students’ learning and they have the opportunity to do this with tutors through scheduled sessions or tutorial opportunities.

What does progressive assessment look like at different levels?

As students progress through their course, they should encounter assessments that are aligned with the level of study they are at.  Course teams need to consider the means by which they will enable students to develop the abilities to complete the more demanding assessment tasks set to demonstrate their achievement of final year learning outcomes.  


Assessment approach




Level four: Guided

smaller assessments that give students insight and practice in the fundamental subject specialist, academic, and/or generic skills

concise academic writing tasks such as literature reviews, …

Presentation of facts or ideas to peers

Single issue case study summary drawing out key points and linking to theory

Level five: Negotiated

involved assessments that require students to choose and employ skills in combination, to address real scenarios, and evaluate their proficiency and effectiveness

3000 word essay

Presentation of case study with personal analysis, with question and answer defence.

Multiple issue case study analysis discussing links between theory and practice

Level six: Independent

Substantial assessment in which students demonstrate critical proficiency in selecting and applying skills to address ill-defined scenarios in a professional and work ready manner

Dissertation or capstone project report

Presentation to professionals exploring either cutting edge research or practice improvement along with practical implications.

Ill-defined or complex case study review reflecting multiple theoretical standpoints and providing carefully justified conclusions and recommendations.

Assessment through partial completion

One approach to developing progressive assessment strategies is to require students work on partial assessment components rather than complete pieces.  While this approach is often most suited to formative assessments, it could be used in summative assessment:

  • We could provide a part completed item for the students to complete
    • Students take notes while someone completes a lab task, then have to produce the lab report individually.
    • A part written essay is provided and students are required to write an introduction and a conclusion.
  • We could ask students to take some pre-prepared analysis, work to develop a solution, but not formally write up the solution.