Criterion referenced assessment as a form of feedback: Student and staff perceptions in the initial stages of a new law degree


Criterion referenced assessment (CRA) has become the preferred method of grading in higher education institutions in recent years. There has been a substantial amount of academic literature over recent years that has attempted to advocate, explain or outline best practice for CRA.

This paper explores academic and student participants' perceptions of CRA and related marking practices based on a study focused on assessment practices in a new Australian regional law school. Existing research proposes two broad rationales for the use of CRA: to increase the reliability and validity of assessment practices; and to provide greater transparency within grading of assessment items for students.

The aim of the research discussed here was to discover whether the stated rationales for CRA in the literature aligned with the perceptions of and uses by academic staff and students.

Preliminary findings are based on a small, qualitative sample of staff and students. They suggest that, whilst academic participants' valuing of CRA does echo some of the researched rationales, they more strongly value this practice because of the time efficiencies that the use of CRA and marking rubrics can achieve for the provision of feedback. This finding is important because it stands in possible conflict with perceptions of students in our study, who appeared to perceive criteria sheets or marking rubrics as being distinct from individualised feedback. Implications of our findings are discussed.


Toni Chardon
Faculty of Business and Law, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba QLD

Pauline Collins
Faculty of Business and Law, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba QLD

Sara Hammer
Learning and Teaching Services, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD

Caroline Hart
Faculty of Business and Law, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba QLD


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criterion referenced assessment; law education; staff perceptions; student perceptions


PP: 232 - 242

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