Prince Sultan University PSU
Policy Management System
Student Assessment Policy

Policy Code: TL0005
Policy Name: Student Assessment Policy
Handler: Teaching & Learning Center (TLC)
Date Created: 15 August 2020
Date of Current Review: 15 August 2020
Approved by: University Council
Date of Approval:


Assessment practices in higher education are important in the teaching and learning process. They are linked to the learning outcomes and the teaching strategies that are used in the classroom and the quality of the learning process inside the classroom. The course instructors should become familiar with the Rules and Regulations of Undergraduate Study and Examinations issued by the Deanship of Admission and Registration for the grading system of student achievement (grades) and the Program Assessment Policy for assessment of learning outcomes. Furthermore, it is to be noted that for the purpose of this policy assessment has two roles:

  • grades, which are a numeric score that is linked to student performance in that course, and they “represent the extent to which a student has successfully met the faculty member’s requirements and expectations for a course” (Rogers, 2003, p.1).
  • Outcomes assessment, the focus is on providing evidence that students can demonstrate their knowledge or skills that are directly linked to specific outcomes both at the course and program levels (Rogers, 2003).


The main purpose of the PSU assessment policy is to implement and simplify effective student learning and assessment processes in order to assure stakeholders and constituencies that PSU degrees are based on valid and reliable assessment practices in line with national and international standards. All formative and summative assessments should mainly focus on assessing the domains of learning in the standards of the National Center for Academic for Assessment and Accreditation (NCAAA), which are aligned with the learning outcomes from the course, program, and institutional levels.


This policy is applicable to all courses within each academic department at PSU, including both undergraduate and graduate courses.


* Assessment: It is an all-encompassing term that entails the routine classroom assessment as well as external testing. Assessment is also the opportunity to improve the teaching and learning processes (Cheng & Fox, 2017). Assessment is also a term that involves the method by which data is collected to measure what students know (knowledge) and are able to do (skills) in connection to the learning outcomes at specific points during their learning activities, course, or program of study (Retrieved from

  1. Assessment for Learning: It is continuous & sustained assessment throughout the learning process. The teacher monitors the progress made by students in relation to their learning needs and indicates to the students their growth & progress. It is seen to be as interactive (Cheng & Fox, 2017).
  2. Assessment as Learning: It focuses on fostering and supporting students’ development as they learn to monitor, reflect on their own learning, and take charge of it (Dann, R. 2014). This is important because the students’ role is key: ”as active, engaged and critical assessors, can make sense of the information, relate it to prior knowledge, and master the skills involved” (Earl, 2003: 23-26).
  3. Assessment of Learning: It is cumulative in nature and used to confirm what students already know and what they can do in relation to learning outcomes. It is more teacher-centered than assessment for learning and takes place at specific times after learning has occurred to determine if learning has happened like achievement tests. It is judgmental, and the results are expressed as grades (Cheng & Fox, 2017).
  4. Evaluation: It is the process of making judgments based on criteria and evidence.
  5. Feedback: It is “a process through which students learn how well they are achieving and what they need to do to improve their performance. Successful feedback should be two-way, with learners acting upon the feedback they are given” (Isaacs et al., 2013, p. 61).
  6. Testing: It is one type of assessment and examines the students’ knowledge of something to determine what he/she know or has learned. It assesses the level of skill or knowledge that has been reached at a specific point in time in the students’ learning (The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, 1999).
  7. Validity: It is the extent to which any assessment task measures what it has been designed to do (Isaacs et al., 2013). It is the extent to which the assessment fulfills its planned outcomes, (i.e., being fair in assessment and making certain they are linked to the outcomes), and the extent to which the tasks guide and motivate student learning.
  8. Reliability: It is the extent to which scores from a test or assessment task show consistency and dependability. Reliability includes the ones taking the assessment, those who are grading the assessment, and the design of the assessment itself (Isaacs et al., 2013).
  9. Manageability: It is the extent to which the assessment practices are both practical and controllable for both faculty members and students in terms of workload and available resources.
  10. Formative assessment: It is the continuous feedback given to students about their learning, which in turn helps to guide the teaching strategies to use in class. It is meant to guide them through their journey of learning through all of the learning activities during class or online via MOODLE at PSU.
  11. Summative assessment: It is a form of assessment used to measure student learning and usually counts in determining the student’s grade, like on exams and quizzes. Achievement tests are instruments used for summative assessment.
  12. Standards-based or criterion-referenced assessment: It is a type of measurement that uses a set of descriptive criteria to describe knowledge, skill, or performance. The results are provided to measure a student’s achievement in relation to a set of standards irrespective of the performance of other students (Cheng & Fox, 2017).
  13. Norm-referenced assessment: It is a form of assessment that organizes individuals across a range of skills. The scores of individuals are compared against those of a larger group that is of the norming group or larger group (Isaacs et al., 2013).
  14. Learning outcome: It is a statement that clearly identifies the knowledge, skills, and/or competencies that a student will be able to exhibit as a result of successfully finishing a course or program of study. Learning outcomes reflect what a student should be able to do upon successful completion of a course or program.
  15. Rubric: A rubric has four components: criteria, standards, feedback, and outcomes. “It is a guideline for raters or teachers that define scores (e.g., scores, points) or describe levels, which are awarded for test-taker/student performances, behaviors, or work” (Cheng & Fox, 2017, p.228).


The PSU Student Assessment Policy is informed by research and best practice models found in higher education. It is expected that each program and its specialized tracks will formulate different models of assessment for their specific fields to assess student achievement effectively using both formative and summative assessment methods.

Principles of Assessment (adapted from Principles of Assessment from the University of Sheffield)

Principle 1 - The assigned assessments should be valid.

Principle 2 – The assigned assessments should be reliable and consistent.

Principle 3 – The assigned assessments should be clear, transparent, and feedback is given to students.

Principle 4 – The assigned assessments should not compromise the academic standards expected across the different disciplines and are fair for all students.

Principle 5 – The assigned assessments are to be aligned with the course and program learning outcomes and provide feedback for continuous improvement of the program. The assessments should also be correlated with the respective academic discipline or subject as well as 21st Century Skills.

Principle 6 – The assigned assessments across the program need to be manageable by both faculty members and students alike. They should serve as a source of valid and reliable achievement of learning without overloading them.

Principle 7 – The assessments should include a combination of both formative and summative assessments across all disciplines. Diagnostic assessments can be used depending on the academic discipline.

Principle 8 – Providing feedback in a timely manner, promotes learning, and supports continuous improvement is required. All students are entitled to receive feedback for both formative and summative assessment tasks. All information related to the scheduled assessments should be included in the Institutional Course Syllabus and announced at the start of the semester.

Principle 9 – Professional development should be included in the action planning for all of this involved in the assessment of students to help guarantee the quality of assessment inside the different academic programs offered.


The guidelines are mandated to be adhered by the course instructor in different phases of assessment:

Planning of Assessment:

  1. Faculty and students must be fully aware of all university policies, college practices, and procedures in relation to student assessment. Refer to the Faculty and Student Code of Conduct Policies.
  2. Assessment must reflect the values of effective learning and teaching that have been identified in PSU’s Strategic Plan, TLQF, and comply with the current by-laws, and university policy and procedures on privacy.
  3. All courses are divided into two parts: coursework 60% and a final exam 40%. Any modifications to this model have to have written approval from the Vice-Rector of the Academic Affairs office.
  4. All assessments need to be communicated to students at the beginning of the semester.
  5. Course instructors are required to inform the students in the first week of every academic semester about the types and schedules of assessments and their grade distribution through the Institutional Course Syllabus as well as on the LMS(Moodle), which is in compliance with PSU’s Course Syllabus Acknowledgement Form. It is recommended that all rubrics for assessment also be shared at this time.
  6. Students must be provided with clear guidelines in the course syllabus and through workshops about academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and the consequences that can be faced by a student in case an event of academic dishonesty is suspected. It is the responsibility of faculty members and PSU academic authorities to ensure that the consequences and implications of academic dishonesty are communicated to students.
  7. Courses that involve symposia, research, lab work, tutorials, practicums, or involve fieldwork (COOP) may be excluded from the rules mentioned in parts b and c based on a decision made by the College Council and the recommendation of the department council teaching the course. The College Council may specify alternate ways to evaluate student achievement in such courses.

Implementation of Assessment

  1. Academic integrity is an integral part of the assessment process, which should be adhered to by the faculty and the students. The course instructors should conduct all assessments ethically, honestly, and with integrity.
  2. Assessments should focus on the evaluation of domains of learning in the standards of the National Center for Academic for Assessment and Accreditation (NCAAA)
  3. All forms of assessment have been aligned with the course learning outcomes for the course.
  4. Assessments should be aligned with the learning outcomes at the course level.
  5. Assessment should follow Blooms’ taxonomy (or a combination of low and high order thinking questions).
  6. Assessments are based on an answer scheme or rubric. The grading scale should be consistent within a program and adhered to by all of the examiners within the program.
  7. Formative and summative assessments should be used to facilitate and reward student learning and maximize the validity and reliability of the PSU grading system and awards.
  8. Assessments need to be based on a reasonable workload that can be covered and revised before the assessment task.
  9. The number of assessment tasks counting towards a final course grade must not exceed college guidelines. Assessment tasks must be related to the size and duration of the course and linked to the learning outcomes of the course and program.
  10. The weightings given to different assessment tasks must be decided by the course instructors and the course leaders to best describe students’ capabilities and performance at the end of the course and should be related to the amount of work involved in each task and the relative importance of each learning outcome. Any modifications need to go through the approval process.
  11. Based on the recommendations of the respective department council and college council, the Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs is entitled to permit the inclusion of practical or oral tests in the final examination of any course and to specify the proportion of the final score for the course that is assigned to these tests.
  12. The student must complete the course requirements by the end of the following regular semester.
  13. The classwork score out of 60 can be divided into different assessments, for example:
    • At least one written examination, plus part or all of the following: oral and practical examinations, research papers, projects, or other class activities.
    • At least two written examinations.
      - The grades earned by students in each course are calculated as follows:
      Percentage Grade Significance Grade code GPA (out of 4.0)
      95 – 100 Exceptional A+ 4.00
      90 – 94 Excellent A 3.75
      85 – 89 Superior B+ 3.50
      80 – 84 Very Good B 3.00
      75 – 79 Above Average C+ 2.50
      70 – 74 Good C 2.00
      65 – 69 High Pass D+ 1.50
      60 – 64 Pass D 1.00
      A Students’ scores are classified according to the above nine levels, and the final grades are calculated on the basis of this classification. The Admission and Registration Deanship will be informed of students’ final grades, according to the forms prepared for this purpose.
      - The time for submitting home assignments and practical work should be reasonable, and preferably other student commitments should be taken into consideration.

Reflection on Assessment results

  1. Student feedback should be constructive and done in a timely manner (e.g., 1-2 weeks maximum for all course work; final exams follow the university policy that states that the grades have to be submitted within 48 hours or 72 hours depending on the nature of the course and the students do not see their feedback on the final).
  2. Providing informative feedback and the appropriate use of rubrics should be implemented across all colleges.
  3. Final course grades must indicate demonstrated achievement of the students at the end of the course through an accumulation of appropriate pieces of evidence from coursework, various assessments during the semester, and the final examination.
  4. Every assessment should evaluate students’ achievement based on his/her own merits (standards-based) rather than judged normatively (i.e., by ranking students’ achievement).
  5. The grading scale should be consistent within a program and adhered to by all the examiners within that program.
  6. Assessed course work must be shown to students, normally within two weeks of the date of the test or assignment, or within two weeks of the date on which it was submitted. The work will be accompanied by sufficient oral or written feedback (this could be in the form of student-specific comments, a rubric, a model answer, and/or a general commentary on common errors demonstrated by the class) to allow the students to form an accurate appraisal of their performance. If possible, all assessed work should be returned to students before the final examination or test so that feedback may be utilized in revision for the final exam or test.
  7. Final exams and grades are not shown to students according to the University’s by-laws.
  8. Student Assessment of the COOP, which runs for 7 months, results in the student receiving a grade of IP after 4.5 months, and then a grade alteration is completed once the 7 months have been completed and all assignments have been submitted.
  9. Any student caught cheating during exams will be penalized based on the student code of conduct policy.
  10. There has to be a clear process for verifying and reviewing student assessments (major exams and final exams). The process of verification of final examinations by all colleges and academic deanships should be consistently conducted within PSU.
  11. Records of assessment practices and samples of students’ answers must be maintained for accountability purposes. These documents are to be included in the Course Portfolio that is maintained electronically using PSU’s storage system within each program on campus.


Cheng, L. & Fox, J. (2017). Assessment in the Language Classroom. McMillan Education; Palgrave: London, UK.

Dann, R. (2014) Assessment as learning: blurring the boundaries of assessment and learning for theory, policy, and practice. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, Vol. 21, No. 2, 149–166,

Earl, L. (2003, 2013). Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximize Student Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press Isaacs, T., Zara, C., Herbert, G., Coombs, S.J., & Smith, C. (2013). Key Concepts in Educational Assessment. London, UK: Sage Publications.

Rogers, G. (October 2003). Assessment 101: Assessment Tips with Gloria Rogers, Ph.D. Do Grades Make the Grade for Program Assessment? Retrieved from: The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (1999). Retrieved from

The University of Sheffield, Principles of Assessment. Retrieved from!/file/Principles_of_Assessment.pdf