Hei Timatanga / Introduction

The University of Waikato is aiming to establish a set of high-level principles that articulate, for all Schools, Faculties and Divisions, our position on quality assessment. The intent of these Principles is to provide guidance and support to students and teachers/educators in developing quality assessment relative to the standards and expectations of their discipline.

Te take / Rationale

One of the strategic goals of the University of Waikato is to deliver “teaching and research programmes distinguished by academic excellence and relevance”. This includes adopting Principles of Assessment that aim to lift student achievement and enhance learner outcomes. We are committed to offering assessment of and for learning that meets the education needs of all our learners, in all our communities irrespective of ethnicity, gender, religion, socio-economic status or disability. The Principles of Assessment will, with supporting resources, act as an overarching guide for quality assessment at the University of Waikato.

Te kōrero tāhuhu / Background

In 2019 a discussion document was drafted that sought to prompt thinking and discussion about assessment.  The White Paper on Assessment was initially considered by Faculty Boards, Education Committee, Curriculum Committee and Academic Board during July and August 2019.  Student consultation was also undertaken in October 2019.  In addition, information and an invitation for feedback was included in the Official Circular.

The feedback from these discussions was compiled, considered, and in February 2020, a revised version of the White Paper on Assessment was discussed by the Law and Engineering Boards of Studies, the Divisional Boards, the Māori Academic Board of Studies and Curriculum Committee.

Consideration of the White Paper on Assessment was then put on hold due the disruption of Covid-19 and the need to focus attention on the University’s response. The changes necessitated by our Covid-19 response did, however, provide a valuable opportunity to explore some new practices and ways of working. This, in turn, may have stimulated new ways of thinking in relation to assessment practices. The White Paper on Assessment was, therefore, revised to incorporate both the previous feedback received and the new reflections on recent experiences.

The revised White Paper on Assessment included 20 recommendations and was considered by boards and committees throughout March 2021. Following these meetings, a decision was taken by the DVCA and PVC Teaching & Learning to establish, and seek agreement on, a set of Principles of Assessment. These are listed below.

Six Principles of Assessment

Principle 1: Assessment should have an explicit purpose that is communicated clearly to all involved. That purpose may be formative and/or summative.

Rationale: The purpose of each assessment needs to be explicit – why it has been set, who will be assessed, what will be assessed, how it provides opportunities for learners to demonstrate that they meet relevant learning outcomes, how the result will support student learning, when the assessment will be given, and feedback and grades made available, what can be done to ensure students benefit from the assessment process and results


Principle 2: Assessment should be designed in ways that consider the diversity of learners and the ways in which they learn.  Students’ entitlement to submit work in te Reo Māori should be upheld.

Rationale: Assessment practices that are flexible, equitable and inclusive help to ensure that every student is provided with an opportunity to demonstrate their learning to the highest degree


Principle 3: Assessment should be designed in a way that helps students learn and/or measures their achievement in respect of learning objectives or outcomes.

Rationale: Assessments should transparently and explicitly align with the stated learning objectives or outcomes for a paper, and with the graduate attributes for a programme


Principle 4: Assessment should generate productive dialogues amongst and between educators and students

Rationale: Reflection on assessments can inform improvements to teaching and learning and encourage students to reflect and communicate about their process


Principle 5: Assessment should enable educators to recognise the effectiveness of their curriculum and teaching and shape their practices accordingly

Rationale: Assessments provide educators with the most direct data about the effectiveness of their teaching approaches and crucial information about how students are understanding specific content


Principle 6: Assessment should involve judgements on progress and achievement that are based on reliable evidence

Rationale: Assessments should reliably reflect student achievement so that educators, community partners and students themselves can be confident that assessment provides a reliable indication of a student’s achievement and is a result of their own work.


Professor Robyn Longhurst  Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Associate Professor Tracy Bowell Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching & Learning