The USask Assessment Principles describe assessment practices that are supportive of students’ learning and likely to generate trustworthy representations of how well students have learned.

USask Assessment Principles

Effective assessment of students:

1. Is aligned with learning outcomes and instructional strategies (assessment of learning).

2. Is inclusive and transparent, so students have equitable opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

3. Gives students multiple opportunities to learn through practice and feedback, so they have sufficient time and support to reflect and improve (assessment for learning).

4. Develops student's ability to learn effectively and prepares students to be self-directed, reflective, and engaged learners (assessment as learning).

5. Is designed so students apply disciplinary learning under authentic, or as close to authentic as possible, circumstances.

6. Is designed and sequenced to optimize students' success.

Effective assessment is embedded in departments, colleges/schools, and system-wide when it:

7. Provides a valid and trustworthy representation of student achievement that students, educators, disciplines, accrediting bodies, and employers can have confidence in.

8. Is manageable and sustainable for educators, and appropriately facilitated by policy and resourcing.

9. Provides useful information for ongoing course and program enhancement.

10. Forms an integral part of program design, aligning with what programs of study are aiming to achieve within disciplinary communities.

Using the Assessment Principles in a course

With TLARC's adoption of the USask Assessment Principles, there are some key changes to pay attention to in each course, as outlined by the Academic Courses Policy.

Educators should:

  1. Calculate grades so they represent student achievement of course outcomes.
  2. Explain how the assignments create a course grade by describing either the value or weight of each assignment, or the value or weight of each outcome or competency.
  3. Provide timely feedback to students early in the course, enabling them to implement it and improve throughout the duration of the course.
  4. Offer clear information about what each assessment is looking for, not just a description of the required parts or structure.
  5. Choose the type of final assessment. If there is a final exam, a form is needed to schedule it. See this webpage for more information.

Discussing college, school, and departmental assessment practices and policies

In addition to choices made by educators, assessment practices come from disciplinary traditions and expectations in colleges, schools and departments.

It is important to have conversations about Principles 7-10 to ensure your department or school policies and procedures are consistent with the new principles. Facilitation support and workshops tailored for your department are available through the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL).

Get Support

  • Attend workshops to learn about a specific assessment principle and how to use it for your course.
  • Design a full assessment consistent with the assessment principles for your course. 
  • Get a one-to-one consultation.

Development and implementation of the Principles

In the 2021-22 academic year, TLARC completed a review of common assessment practices in Higher Education globally and changes to assessment theory. The review determined there were four key reasons to consider changes:

1. Research: A large body of research evidence now describes the impact of outcomes-based and formative assessment practices on the quality of learning in Higher Education. Strong consensus has developed that these newer assessment practices yield higher level learning outcomes.

2. Accreditation Requirements: Practices are changing in some colleges, particularly externally accredited ones, where common competencies exist that need to be assessed by faculty members for the college to remain accredited. These common competencies often have outcomes and competency levels that are the same in all programs across an entire country, or even globally, and require outcomes-based or competency-based assessment processes.

3. Strong Graduates: Employers prioritize graduates who can describe and demonstrate their competency in complex problem solving, collaborating, digital literacies, etc. Newer forms of assessment tend to provide learning tasks and assessments that teach and grade those skills, and support students in being able to describe their own competence in them, making graduates more successful.

4. Unconscious Bias/EDI: Institutions of higher education are seeking to become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. Many conventional approaches to assessment present systemic barriers to first-in-family and equity seeking students. Processes of accommodation and an understanding of socially constructed narratives of disability are also shifting how and what we assess.
  • TLARC and APC struck a joint working group that also included student and staff representatives to examine assessment policy and process on campus relative to the principles. The group completed an initial update to Academic Courses Policy in 2022-23.
  • Academic leaders were invited to consider implications of the principles for their colleges and schools.
  • TLARC directed the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL) to start working with individual departments on assessment based on departmental interest and direction from their academic leaders.
  • TLARC directed GMCTL to offer a series of workshops related to the Assessment Principles.