Assessment Design

Approved Curriculum - Module Assessment Methods and Weightings

Details of all examinations (online equivalent) as outlined in the Book of Modules must be confirmed and conveyed to the SREO ( to facilitate examination scheduling, DMIS mark return and appropriate application of Marks and Standards.

Types of Assessment

While assessment types and styles can change dramatically depending on individual teaching style and disciplinary requirements, there are some general patterns in the types of summative assessment used at UCC. These assessment types include:

  • Essays (e.g. a longer piece of work submitted at a set time)
  • Projects (e.g. presentation, multimedia work, etc. submitted at a set time)
  • Timed Exams (e.g. short answer/quiz-type questions, essays, etc. delivered on Canvas with a strict time limit)
  • Take-home exams (open-book essay format with extended submission times)

For anyone using Canvas for the first time, here are some popular question types in Canvas Quizzes that could be used in a timed exam with links to the relevant Canvas Instructor Guide:

For more general supports, see the Canvas Training sessions from the CDE, the Teaching with Technology Canvas course (including content on Canvas, Teams, and Panopto from IT Services, the CDE, and AVMS), or the Canvas Instructor Guides. If you're having technical issues with Canvas, remember that all UCC staff have access to 24/7 support (just click the help link while logged into Canvas) or ask in the Teaching with Technology Team. And if all else fails, book a consultation with someone from the Centre for Digital Education.

Principles and Guidelines for Good Assessment Design

Online assessment follows the same principles of standard assessment design in that it should align with the learning outcomes of the module and programme, and enable the students to demonstrate their understanding. When designing online assessments, staff are reminded that all assessment must be consistent with the approved curriculum and mark allocation as published in the 2020-21 Book of Modules even if the mode of delivery is now different.

Online assessment differs somewhat in that students will need to master the submission approach and will need a practice run to troubleshoot any concerns or issues with the process.

We differentiate between formative and summative modes of assessment. 

Summative assessment includes assessments where the focus is on evaluating student learning; these can include continuous assessments such as MCQs, and end of term exams or projects. Summative assessment is the main focus here.

Formative assessment is focussed on giving a non-graded indication to the student on how well they are doing in a course. This can include in-class quizzes, classroom polls, lesson exit tickets to see what students have learned etc. Online teaching is particularly well suited to using formative assessment modes to keep students engaged in live online classes. Other forms include the two stage essay submission, where students submit a draft of an essay for feedback which they then incorporate into the final submission.

When designing your assessment, the assessment approach should align with the desired learning outcome. The Canvas VLE provides a multitude of short answer question options that would work well for assessments based on factual recall.

In essay-type exams, the design of the question is crucial to ensure students are being assessed on the application of their knowledge rather than simple recall. Guidance should be provided on the extent to which the exam is seen as ‘open-book’ and an appropriate, light-touch referencing approach should be encouraged.

If decide to do an open book exam then you might consider how to advise students with regard to referencing their sources, what resources they could limit themselves to and consider revisiting your marking criteria to reflect students’ access to other resources, i.e. less marks on recall tasks and more on how students apply their knowledge.


Key Steps in Assessment Design

  1. familiarise yourself with deadlines and UCC policies
  2. agree on an assessment SOP with your colleagues
  3. design the assessment
  4. pick the tools
  5. build the exam
  6. post clear instructions for completing the exam to Canvas (ideally in both a page and an announcement)

Click here to read more about the key steps in assessment design.


The Assessment Process

Based on learning from the summer exams and good practice in the area, the following 5P’s provide guidance on how to coordinate a successful assessment.

  1. Prepare students and practice
  2. Plagiarism
  3. Presence during exams
  4. Plan B for submission
  5. Post exam check

Click here to read more about the 5P's for Assessment.

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