Marks Should Not Be the Focus of Assessment – But How Can Change Be Achieved?


  • Darrall G Thompson University of Technology Sydney



This paper attempts to address the possibility of real change after a hundred years of exam-based assessments that produce a single mark or grade as feedback on students’ progress and abilities. It uses design thinking and a reframing of the assessment space to foreground an attribute-based approach that retains the diversity of aspects of a student’s performance across subject boundaries. There are a number of rationales and concepts built into this approach that aim to divert staff and student focus from marks, content delivery, and retention, towards the development of knowledge literacies, conceptual frameworks, and a broad range of personal qualities and skills. Web-based software (REVIEW) developed and refined for more than a decade to facilitate this approach retains categorised student progress data through the day-to-day criterion-referenced marking of assignments and exams. Education research cited proposes that institutions should engage students as a partner in their personal and professional development rather than as a customer buying a degree. It is suggested and illustrated in this paper that the use of self-assessment and visual feedback on different categories of progress is part of the key to forming such a partnership.

Author Biography

Darrall G Thompson, University of Technology Sydney

Senior Lecturer, Learning Futures Fellow, School of Design, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building


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How to Cite

Thompson, D. G. (2016). Marks Should Not Be the Focus of Assessment – But How Can Change Be Achieved?. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(2), 193-212.



Special section: Learning Analytics for 21st Century Competencies