Criterion-Referenced Assessment
5.0 Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Criterion-Referenced Assessment (CRA) has been widely adopted in recent times because it seeks a fairer and more accountable assessment practice than Norm-Referencing Assessment (NRA). CRA is the process of evaluating and grading students’ learning against a set of pre-specified criteria without reference to the achievement of others. By performing CRA means that academic staff evaluates students achievement based on a set of criteria that clearly illustrates descriptors indicates mastery of learning outcomes in accordance with established standards. Descriptor refers to a required quality or dimension which will determine the level of students’ achievements. In practice, the selection of criteria are very dependent on the type of assignment as well as the required level of knowledge and skills of a course. Criteria evaluated may also include generic skills such as communication skills, problem solving skills, team working skills, entrepreneurial, lifelong learning and information management skills, leadership and others.

5.1 Benefits of Using CRA

Implementing CRA benefits all students and academic staff. These include;

i. guiding and enhancing student’s focus on the task of learning
ii. assisting learning as the use of standards and criteria can explain the mastery of content and skills required in each task.
iii. motivating students to improve through effective feedback
iv. ensuring students’ grades are determine based on clear standards and criteria.
v . increasing transparency in assigning grades that students earn for their work.

5.2 Effective Implementation of CRA

Generally, CRA uses a measurement tool called rubric.

i. Rubric containing the standards and assessment criteria is used consistently with the course objectives.
ii. Assessment rubric must meet the assessment criteria. Inconsistency and ambiguity in the selection of evaluation criteria will cause confusion in
deciding on the grades.
iii. Each assessment criteria in the rubric must be measured based on the weighted raw scores or based on the percentage of the total score.
iv. The same rubric is applied consistently for all programs offered at the faculty to facilitate comparisons made between courses and programs.

6.0 Rubric

Rubric is a marking guidance that helps academic staff in making valuable decisions, high reliability of learning evidence (achievement / performance / product). It is also a guide for the students to do self-assessment. Clear and detailed rubric allows students to identify expected outcomes / performance that must be proven to achieve a grade. When that culture is nurtured / implemented consistently in all graduate programs, students should be able to build more effective learning progress plan based on the needs assessment described in the rubric. The rubric also serves as a tool to address specific formative feedback to promote learning which is focused and persistent.

6.1 The Roles of Rubric

Rubric plays a specific role in the three phases of assessment.

i. Pre-Assessment
The rubric serves as a guide in describing the expected achievements / performance to be achieved by students on the assignment. Thus, the rubric
serves as a tool of reflection before the assignment is submitted.

ii. Assessment
The rubric helps examiners to carry out measurement of students’ assignments focusing on standards / criteria determined by high degree of

iii. Post-Assessment
Students are given feedback on the achievement / performance based on clear and detailed scoring guide. Thus, it can enhance strength and overcome weakness.

6.2 Benefits of Using Rubric in Assessment

The advantages of using rubric in assessment include;

i. promote objective and consistent assessment practices.
ii. facilitate academic staff in defining specific criteria.
iii. clearly explain to students the assessment implementation process and expected outcomes based on each assignment.
iv. raise awareness among students in relation to evaluation criteria that can be used in peer assessment.
v. provide useful feedback to academic staff about the effectiveness of teaching through self-reflection.

6.3 Components of Rubric

There are many ways to build a rubric; however all rubrics contain the same attributes including;
i. the main focus is the evaluation of the three domains of learning outcomes namely; cognitive, affective and psychomotor.
ii. select the best criteria to be evaluated using;

a. analytic rubric
Rubric that contains a specific set of criteria and students’ assignments are evaluated individually based on these criteria. Scores are recorded on each
criterion and combined to produce a composite score for the related task.

This scoring is referred to as analytical scoring.

b. holistic rubric
Rubric that contains a set of descriptors that evaluate students’ assignments in general by producing an overall score for a given task. This scoring is
referred to as a holistic scoring.

iii. using standard (numerical / category) to assess achievement / performance of students.
iv. contains specific criteria for measuring the domains tested for an assignment with the level of achievement / performance is expressed in stages.

v. each criterion is specified by a descriptor with a clear definition together with appropriate examples.

Generally, there are three main components in a rubric (See Figure 1) namely;
i. criteria (show quality which students need to achieve based on statement of learning outcomes).
ii. standard (scale : numerical / category).
iii. descriptor (describing evidence to be shown in the assignments of students depending on a criteria of a certain standard)