Type of Powerful Assessment - Field-based assesment



  • A small group research exercise which involves identifying relevant newspaper articles and critiquing them against the management accounting principles taught in the course.


  • Students have to find a current newspaper article (this stops plagiarism) and apply the theory learnt in class to the claims made in the article– this shows the relevance of theory and practice and tests students can actually make the application link. Students hand in a draft for formative feedback in week nine – exemplars from work on earlier articles are shown. When this assessment was introduced student satisfaction scores went up significantly.



  • Overseas placement in a developing country. Each student works with a local team in-country on an actual strategic problem a firm is having and presents and discusses a relevant, feasible solution that has been undertaken in partnership with local students in-country. The assessment requires them to reflect on what they learnt about the country, the people, themselves, the problem addressed and effective change management and capacity-building in that cultural context. In this way the assessment task integrates technical skill with personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities with a particular focus on developing capability to work productively with diversity.


Community & Social Work

  • Use of ePortfolios and reflective journals against a good practice framework when on placement in an NGO.


  • Third year university students mentor school students to build interest in STEM (via a community service subject which assesses their ability to relate to the school students, the quality of their strategy, student response and a self-evaluation of this against a set of effective engagement and learning checkpoints discussed in class).


  • A not-for-profit organisation provides a real world challenge and students work over a semester on a feasible, justified and practical solution. Each person is allocated to write up a section of the total report against a rubric focused on evidence that the solution is relevant and feasible which is discussed at the start of the subject to assure valid and reliable assessment.


  • In a final year community-based service project students work for 2 semesters with a community group on one of its key development priorities and have to demonstrate their ability to work constructively with the client, respond to their needs, develop a relevant and workable plan of action on an improvement area and commence the process of implementation.


Creative Industries, Arts & Design

  • Design students are taken to a Community Centre to intentionally meet professionals outside their own area – the focus is on an assignment that looks at the benefits of thinking in an interdisciplinary way. In one version of this task an exhibition and a book have been produced on the collective findings.


  • Students are to scan ads using a range of media and contact networks for potentially relevant jobs in their professional area. They are to select one job and outline and justify how they would ‘pitch’ for it. They then have to locate a request for tender and have to write a bid for the tender with a business plan. Assessment includes a focus on the effectiveness of search, the quality and justification of the ‘pitch’ and the relevance of the tender.



  • Clinical performance assessment using a good practice rubric with a set of criteria and standards that are discussed in class in advance of the clinical placement – both student self-reflection and self assessment and the tutor’s formative and then summative feedback are used for the written report. The focus is on patient-oriented care, effective patient management, accurate diagnosis, the appropriate and effective use of technical (psychomotor) skills and professionalism. In this program this approach takes place from year one.



  • Capstones involving real world projects in particular schools.


  • Primary Education: ‘learning stations’ are created and implemented with students. For assessment students are to identify how successful the implementation was, using checkpoints discussed earlier in the course to guide their evaluation and then the extent to which the strategy improved student performance on their assessment. Key lessons for improving the approach are then to be identified.


  • Bed Primary: practicum – evidence is gathered in to demonstrate that the student is meeting the AISTL standards on inclusive assessment – the results are included in a hard copy of an ePortfolio. Students can choose how they would like to be assessed: 1:1 assessment by the lecturer or by a panel made up on a university staff member/the principal & an early career teacher. The practicum is supported by provision of video exemplars of students undertaking the task in earlier years with a commentary on how they handled any unexpected outcomes. Grading is pass/fail.


  • The development of a visual arts diary built into weekly activity and using unit input with the aim of producing a resource to take out onto the first practicum. Assessment includes a reflection on how the resource was developed, evidence that it engaged students (using the key student engagement tests identified in the course as a guide) and key lessons for next time.


  • Education Social Studies (first year): This assessment task involves students in addressing historical and geographically located themes with a view to producing a childrens’ book on an interesting aspect of local (social) history. A key focus is on achieving the ‘feeling of place’. Students can pursue a selection of themes including the lives of the original inhabitants, the lives of migrants, what children did for entertainment in the area in earlier times etc. Students are required to locate and use primary resources and write the book at a language level suited to the child audience. They not only produce the book but submit notes on how they did it and a critical appraisal of the feedback received, relating this to the checkpoints on effective writing for the age group concerned discussed in class.


  • Capstone in Education: final year students design, run and evaluate the effectiveness of a ‘conference’ in which they bring together all that they have learnt and how they are going to manage the transition into teaching with keynote speakers that include successful early career teachers and other leaders in education.


  • Actual examples of a range of different student work in math are given to trainee teachers with notes on the backgrounds of students – each trainee is to analyse what the student work is saying about how they are thinking, what the gaps in their skills/understanding are/what is the best aspect of each case and what most needs improvement. They are then to identify a strategy for addressing this ‘diagnosis’. Students come together in small groups to compare and contrast their diagnoses. They then implement their plan and evaluate the outcomes. Why is this powerful? It tests the ability to ‘read’ the student background and their performance and ‘match’ the most fitting response. It is authentic (the work is actually from real students). Students learn how to learn from each other, confirm their diagnosis and formulate a better response. It emphasises how the effective teacher needs to ‘read’ the unique situation and capabilities of each student and custom-tailor a response. Added to this are ‘killer moment’ scenarios – e.g. when a trainee says, “I’ll get one of my best students to help a weaker one.” To deepen the dialogue, she is asked, “What do you do if the parent of the bright student comes in and says, ‘Why are you using my daughter as a tutor when you should be giving her more advanced work so her chances of getting into an Ivy League University are optimized?" (Dominican University of California).


  • Using the samples of five 3rd grade students’ class work on addition and subtraction provided on the course moodle LMS site, in this assignment the trainee teachers have to:
  • Correct these math worksheets
  • Analyze the student work
    • What do the students know
    • With what concepts and procedures are they struggling
    • What does the class know about math collectively
    • What concepts and procedures are a struggle for many of these students
  • Create a responsive lesson plan for the next school day
    • Create learning outcomes based on their analysis.
    • Describe exactly what they would do the next day to teach and reach all of these students in a 90 minute math time. (Dominican University of California).




  • Engineering team project: embedded strategically in Engineering practice units across all levels. Teams are to design, build and demonstrate a product or process to meet a client need. This tests the ability to synthesise discipline knowledge and skills to meet a particular brief; self regulation; decisiveness; commitment; ability to positively influence others, project management capabilities and the ability to communicate in a clear and responsive way with both one’s team and the client. This project demonstrates both relevance and the importance of ‘reading’ what is going to be most appropriate and feasible and being able to then ‘matching’ the right, fit-for-purpose response. To date the assessment focus has been more on the quality of the product but increased attention is now being given the above process factors as well.


  • Engineering students go to schools to talk to the students about the excitement of engineering, what their senior researchers are working on and are evaluated by their supervisor, teacher and students. This task is undertaken 6 times during the course.


  • Design-directed engineering education and technology entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University. Here we study what it means to be an engineer using an open-ended design problem that covers all that we need to learn. The assignment (100 students) covers the following:
    • Customer needs and product specs
    • Refinement of these
    • Translation to a relevant and feasible spec
    • Success indicators
    • Info gathering and use
    • Building, testing refining the prototype

For assessment the team must hand in a report on each of above plus the different designs they came up with, along with evidence that they have benchmarked against what others done, and that their preferred design works.

(Simon Fraser University)

Entrepreneurship & invention courses

  • Internships in successful enterprises – students observe and interview the entrepreneur and staff during a project and compare what they identify against the theory discussed in class on what makes for a successful enterprise.



  • In a public health nutrition program students undertake a community-based research project from go to whoa. They have to work with their allocated provider on key areas for development and then develop a relevant and feasible solution with reference to key principles taught in the course.


Hotel management

  • Capstones involving real world projects undertaken in conjunction with a placement. Criteria include the ability to diagnose what lies behind the improvement area chosen and to develop plan to address it which is demonstrably relevant, feasible and aligned with what has been taught in the course.


  • Industry placements evaluated against a set of specified capabilities and competencies.


ICT and software engineering


  • Capstones involving real world projects with a university partner.


  • Assessment of performance in sandwich programs/courses against a specific set of required graduate capabilities and skills.



  • At the start of their law course students are to locate and attend a selection of local court sessions and spend four hours observing 3 cases and processes. They are to make notes on this, then write up an analysis and relate this to the key points made in the course. This tests personal capabilities – including the ability to find appropriate cases, get to court, be proactive; and interpersonal capabilities including the ability to relate to court staff, along with cognitive capabilities including the ability to diagnose and then make sense of what has been observed using key course content and theory.



  • The development of business marketing plans commissioned by local tourism businesses. The criteria include how well the needs of the local business are identified and met, the relevance and feasibility of what is proposed, the clarity of its explanation to the client and the results when implemented.


Media and Arts

  • Successful programming in the university’s radio/TV station.



  • Third year medical students on placement discuss the typical issues to expect upfront. Then, when they are on site, they are to select a patient, develop a case, get peer review and write up the case for assessment against the input of the specialist who supervises them.



  • Music – first year: students are to contact three well known industry professionals and undertake an interview focused on a set of key questions – including questions about the highlights and lowlights of the interviewee’s career; what aspects of tertiary studies were most beneficial, how s/he managed financial survival, and the key advice they would give to a first year music student – this builds networks and helps show why the course is focusing on the program level outcomes it is emphasizing.



  • First year nursing: the nurse has to explain a diagnosis to a patient and translate complex jargon into plain English. The patient is then asked to explain what was said back to the supervisor for assessment of clarity, understanding and impact.


  • 2nd year nursing: develop an intervention with someone who has a developmental delay – a case history is provided and the student must diagnose, assess and establish a plan of support – another student then role plays the client – feedback is given by peers, the tutor, and an experienced fourth year student who is already working in the field with clients like this.


  • Read the latest literature on midwifery and develop a brief on it for a local maternity unit. Assessment includes a review of the data gathered in a short survey on the quality of the briefing by the maternity unit staff.


  • Students do a presentation for a group of early career nurses on a key issue with assessment focused on the outcomes sought and the process against a set of good practice checkpoints.



  • Lab quality management – students check the lab for compliance against key quality assurance and safety checkpoints and then their work is evaluated by the external team of auditors they will actually have to satisfy when in the workforce.


  • General science: students link up with an early career researcher and are asked to describe in plain English to school students what the research is about, why it is relevant to them, what is being discovered and why it is so engaging to do this sort of experimental work – as a way to encourage more high school students to consider enrolling in STEM and as away to encourage UG students to consider this career path. Evaluated using a community service subject rubric.


Sustainable social, cultural, economic & environmental development


  • Education for Sustainability at Western Sydney University: Developing ‘sustainability literacy’ requires the development and assessment of new ways of thinking and learning that enable us to recognise the connections between environmental concerns, social patterns and individual actions… and builds skills for inquiry, analysis and creative action. It promotes personal and social change, develops civic values and empowers learners to be leaders for a sustainable future.


  • A public health MSc at the University of Worcester which
    • Brings together Public Health, sustainability and climate change
    • Involves a case study – focused on the ecosystem of services in a particular community with a focus on improving public health
    • Students have to identify (diagnose) a hot issue in a particular site (e.g. air pollution in Beijing, floods and illness) and then determine (invent) how best to address it
    • In some cases virtual field work using 3D headsets is used.
    • Why ‘powerful’?
      • Addresses ability to emphasise, diagnose and read and match
      • Aims to overcome professional silos.


  • Developing and delivering ‘Go green’ week at the University of Worcester
  • One week of sustainability awareness developed for and by students
  • Five themes:
    • Nature – Nature on Campus, Sustainability Fair, community litter-pick
    • Health & food – Local food fair, cooking demo, food bank, Quz
    • Travel - pedi-cab rides, sus-trans, bike security
    • Re-use - repair cafe
    • Energy – home energy advice, cob oven demo, energy competition, pedicab challenge
  • Students have to plan, take into account their audience, deliver the week’s activities, handle unexpected implementation challenges, demonstrate clearly positive outcomes
  • Why ‘powerful’?
  • Real life
  • A bit ‘scary’
  • Reflective
  • Requires reflectiveness and responsiveness, ability to ‘read and match’
  • Adaptive
  • Students can cite what they did and achieved when applying for jobs.


  • Semester in dialogue & the city studio - The city is the classroom. This involves:
    • Dialogue about hot issues: e.g local food. The students host the dialogue and run the class – the guests have different positions – e.g. green food vs the local buyer for a large supermarket chain. Others are business people, community leaders
    • Major assignment – plan, host, deliver, evaluate a community dialogue – with a focus on its aim, outcomes, how it connects to what is being learnt in class, logistics, recruitment, delivery, problem solving. Capabilities tested: how to listen; how to both influence and respond emphatheticaly to others; ability to read what might work best and match then deliver the right strategy; ability to reflect in action and solve ongoing challenges; ability apply the key lessons on effective collaboration.

(Simon Fraser University)

  • Interdisciplinary real-world sustainable development project in a developing country – Shelter in Bangladesh
    In order to create sustainable solutions to the world’s most important challenges, global development professionals must reach beyond the traditional boundaries of their field of expertise combining scientific/technological, business, and social ideas in an approach known as integrated innovation. In this project-based course, students from multiple disciplines (engineering, management, health and social sciences) work together – using participatory methods with an international partner – to address a locally relevant challenge.
    The final team report for the course is a proposal that addresses the real-world global challenge and context issues. Elements must demonstrate the integration of various knowledge sets in the overall scope of the proposed solution.
    Proposed solutions (final presentation and report) are evaluated according to the following criteria: Interdisciplinary Cooperation, Innovation, Relevance and Significance, Execution and Evaluation, Sustainability and Ethics & Equity. Projects are also evaluated based on idea development/refinement from previous assignments. (e.g. how well was feedback acted upon and incorporated?)
    Several individual reflections and class participation evaluations are also incorporated in the assessment of the course.

(University of Toronto)

  • Solar energy engineering and commercialisation at Arizona State University, at https://engineering.asu.edu/semte/Solar_Courses.html


    •  Creating Sustainable Organisations. For assessment students are required to conduct independent research to develop a case study of a company that professes to be ‘sustainable’. The focus of this investigation involves addressing the following question: “Can this company make a business case for sustainability? If yes, what are the grounds for this business case?” The research report should include the following sections: introduction; the company; findings; analysis; conclusion; references (Western Sydney University) (At: http://handbook.westernsydney.edu.au/hbook/unit.aspx?unit=200853.1)



    • Ecumenical dialogue: students are to engage in a 2 way dialogue with someone from a quite different ecumenical tradition – The focus is on the quality of listening and the ability to draw out commonalities and then discuss this in the light of the previous 13 weeks of studying theology.


    Tourism & Hospitality

    • Field research on tourist behaviour with a report that makes sense of what is found against the research and theory taught in the subject with a set of suggested ways to take this into account provided and justified by the student (Field/PBL).
    • Promotional videos and brochures custom-tailored to the particular needs and contexts of a range of island hotels and resorts.


    • Review of attractions and destinations tourism behavior through design of a tool or survey (group project), implementation with tourists and recommendations in the light of observation and interview – real project (tests key personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities in combination).


    Transdisciplinary studies

    • Engineering and Accounting: students in groups interview a successful early career performer at work on the capabilities that count and the key challenges they encounter and how they handle them. Students report this to the class and their report is evaluated against an agreed rubric that covers a set of checkpoints on effective practice.