Following an application process that involved a senior steering group led by VP Dr Sue Rigby and a working group including all colleges working together with IS and IAD, an Edinburgh bid to participate in an HEA scheme to develop improved assessment practice was successful. The Scheme named “Transforming Assessment Pilot” or TAP aims to test the efficacy of a review tool and process that the HEA have designed to help institutions collaboratively assess their assessment practices in order to target improvement, and have assigned modest funds for participating institutions.

Key drivers for The University of Edinburgh however include the opportunity to collaborate and to review current practice in specific schools, to engage students within the process and ultimately help improve student satisfaction and learning outcomes. The team, which includes EUSA’s VPAA representative, aims to place a strong emphasis on student participation throughout.

Work is expected to provide online guidance materials; case study evidence and templates that will be written with a view to helping other schools adapt and adopt good practice. The pilot will continue until May 2014.

Further background information and archive documentation is available via the team wiki:


Who is involved

The working group aims to work closely with senior sponsors, VP Dr Sue Rigby, AP Prof Ian Pirie, and VP Prof Jeff Haywood, will dovetail where possible with the existing Enhancing Student Support (ESS) project.


Working group members currently include:

Mark Wetton (IS)

Fiona Littleton (IS)

Nora Mogey (IAD)


Prof Susan Rhind (Royal ‘Dick’ School of Veterinary Studies – R(D)SVS)

Dr Nick Adams (Divinity)

Ross Galloway (Physics)

Heather McQueen (Biology)

LInda Kirstein (Geoscience)


Main objectives:

Consultation amongst the senior sponsor’s group helped to identify specific areas where this University would welcome improved assessment practice. The group recommended focus upon three areas:

  • Developing improved assessment literacy for the majority of staff and students
  • Developing consistent consideration to programme level assessment as a complement to course level assessment.
  • Delivering a re-balance in favour of formative assessment, in particular in reducing reliance upon re-sit exams.


The Main Deliverables

Strand A:(Lead Mark Wetton and Nora Mogey) Aim: The Institutions staff and students will recognize and understand the need for good assessment practice and the benefits of its adoption through shared assessment literacy.

The team’s intention is to deliver a concise online guide to good practice, and associated resources. A set of guiding principles, an implementation checklist and ‘buddy’ support will be key features. In addition an assessment conference and student guide will be delivered.


Strand B:(Lead Mark Wetton initially)

Aim: The College of Science and Engineering will participate in the TAP development scheme. This strand has been achieved and is closed.


Strand C:(Lead Dr Nick Adams & Prof Susan Rhind)

Aim: Students will be provided examples of ‘model’ assessments (including essays, tests etc.) to supplement any assessment criteria.

Past assignments will be annotated and made available to show students, highlighting characteristics where they evidence a deeper understanding/learning and meet particular assessment criteria.


Strand D:(Lead Fiona Littleton)

Aim: Specific schools involved with the TAP initiative will expand good practice in peer and self assessment and explore means by which students can be supported in gaining diverse quality feedback and a higher level of engagement with their subject matter.

An important element will be in better understanding proposed approaches to self and peer assessment from the student’s perspective.

Resources will be developed with the intention of piloting workshops within participating schools as a trial for wider implementation. Workshops will be recorded and provided as a resource to others.

Strand E:(Lead Prof Susan Rhind)

Aim: The University will plan and communicate a need to reduce reliance upon re-sit exams.

This work will dovetail with the Enhancing Student Support project. The R(D)SVS will submit plans to the TAP working group and to Prof Pirie regarding how they plan to avoid re-sit exams and to record how successful their efforts in this endeavour have been.


Strand F: (Lead Dr Nick Adams, Dr Linda Kirstein)

Aim: The University will routinely consider assessment at a programme level for UG studies.

The Programme Director will review and craft programme level learning outcomes. Work should consider the need for continuous intervention throughout the student lifecycle and the differing contexts within a programme. Work will actively engage students in the design process. The School of Divinity will:

(a) Review programme-level learning outcomes

(b) Canvass students' views

(c) Record changes to assessment made as a result of (a) and (b).

Linda is looking more holistically at programme content that transcends courses, and aims to provide an example programme structure to demonstarte the approach in a re-usable way.

Strand G: (Lead AP Prof Ian Pirie and Fiona Littleton)

Explore the use of tools that aid in the visualization of programme and course structure with embedded assessments.

Consider the potential development of Map My Programme through piloting in MSc Dig Ed.  

Strand H: (Lead Nora Mogey with support from VP Prof Ian Pirie)

Aim: VP Sue Rigby and AP Ian Pirie are leading activities and conversations to consider how course and programme design processes can be enhanced.  Nora Mogey in IAD is liaising with those wider discussions on behalf of the TAP team.


Work will to deliver the template for A/Y 2014/15 and will be supported by Strand A above. There is a staff and student element as students need to engage with any formative assessment if they are going to complete it, in part by knowing why an assessment has been set and what the assessment is trying to achieve.

Student involvement in course design and assessment plans will be part of the information provided to boards of studies.

Over the coming year the working group will be provided support from the HEA, and will work alongside and in collaboration with other participating institutions. The team aims to learn from those institutions within the UK HE community that in particular have experience of student centred assessment process improvement. We aim to work with Schools and with the elearning@ed community to hold an assessment focused event to help communicate findings and share our experience.

The team propose to provide brief updates to the Learning and Teaching Committee and LTAG throughout the coming year, and would welcome any support that these committees can afforded in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcomes for the University and its students as a whole.


Project Info

Transforming Assessment Practice (TAP)
ISG - Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)
Project Manager
Mark Wetton
Project Sponsor
Ian Pirie
Current Stage
Start Date
Planning Date
Delivery Date
Close Date


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