How can I use creating output for external audiences?

How does it align with the module learning outcomes? Does it assess skills and knowledge that are key to the discipline?

Consider your learning outcomes. Creating work for an external audience can often more explicitly meet a range of learning outcomes in terms of communication that traditional exams and essays cannot.

Will it be formative or summative? If summative, how will I give opportunities for practice? When will it occur in the term / module? What will the weighting be?

Such assignments can be used formatively or summatively. Because these types of tasks require a lot of effort on the part of students and some organisation on the part of the department, its optimal use is in summative assessment.

Consider the weighting carefully. A low-weighting can frustrate students if they have directed intellectual and emotional efforts towards its completion.

Because students may not be familiar with particular types of assignment, exemplars are useful. You could stagger the task so students have opportunity for practice throughout the module (see two stage assignments). 

Deconstructing or analysing different types of texts could form part of a formative task to help students gain practice with different genres.

Consider students’ workload across the programme. Tasks which lend themselves to ‘events’ such as conferences, presentations etc, would need to be conducted before the end of the module rather than setting a deadline for some weeks after the module as is possible with essays and exams.

Some tasks could be part of an interdisciplinary programme as they emphasise communication between different audiences and fields.

How will I mark it? What criteria will I use? How will I give feedback?

The Quality Assurance Agency requirements for final year UG programmes often require a longer term project, which this type of task can fulfil.

Criteria and rubrics appropriate to the task should be developed. Generic criteria are unlikely to take into account particular skills and aspects of such as film-making or blogging.

These tasks lend themselves well to using peer evaluation activities or even peer marking, where a portion of the grade comes from judgment of others in the group.

Departmental discussions are needed as to the parity between, say, a traditional 2000 word essay, a documentary film, and a website (for example).

Moderation and standardisation are more important than with traditional essays, because markers might have very different interpretations of success in a particular genre. This King’s Academy resource can be used as guidance for models of standardisation: Standardisation

For some example rubrics, see Collaborative writing: Blogs and Wikis.


How can I address potential challenges?

Do I need to make any modifications for accessibility / inclusivity? Can I build these into the design?

If students are unfamiliar with the task, give practice opportunities and / or feedback on draft work.

Students could be given the option of choosing from a range of different assignments to suit their particular strengths. This allows for students with different abilities to not be disadvantaged.

For digital tasks such as blogging and film-making, students will need to understand how the technology works (this should not be assumed). As with Podcasts and Videos, working in groups allows students to pool and share skills. Well-facilitated group work can give students an opportunity to connect with each other, build their confidence, sustain their energies and boost their ambitions. For considerations, see Team and Group Work in this resource.

In this video, students talk about working with peers for an assessed task (Vogel, 2017).

Do I need to make any modifications for large cohort sizes? Will it be time consuming to set up or mark? Is there anything I can do to modify it to address this?

You could set smaller assignments more frequently to avoid a high volume of end of term marking,

Extensive feedback is not currently a requirement for end-of-module assessment but the level of effort and authenticity of the task means that the students are likely to be disappointed if they do not receive some level of feedback.

How can I set it up?

Some types of assignment may be less practicable in certain departments. Consider the resources you will need, such as KEATS help, AV help and any volunteers.

If you have partnerships with real external audiences, it is important to manage expectations of both the partners and the students, especially being clear what roles and responsibilities are of both parties.

It is maybe better to start small. For example if your course currently uses 100% exams or essays, perhaps introduce a formative task (blogging, case studies, critical reviews or a video presentation) for one aspect rather than reworking the whole module. This allows for trialing and modifications to address arising challenges. The teacher, students and department need to build their confidence in using different types of assessments.  

How can I  introduce this to students?

Students might have anxiety about a new form of assessment and be unsure about how it will be marked.

When introducing the assignment, talk through with students the purpose and how it relates to the learning outcomes and authentic skills that are required in the world of work and research.

Consider discussing the criteria with students, so that there is a shared understanding about how they will be interpreted. A guided marking exercise using examples may be helpful here.