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Undergraduate Research in Australia

Assessment of Student Work

When undergraduate research is done outside the curriculum, assessment is likely to be done informally by other researchers through peer reviewed publications, poster and other conference presentations and the use of the products of the research where appropriate.

The carrying forward of an undergraduate student's ideas, data, findings etc., into further research proposals or into the work of graduates or post-doctoral fellows, also constitutes a kind of informal assessment of that work.

When undergraduate research is carried out inside the curriculum, it will normally also need to be assessed in some way. Assessment then becomes formal.

Boud (2000) suggests that any assessment carried out in higher education should bear in mind whether it prepares students to assess their own and their colleagues work in later life, i.e. when they are working as a professional after the degree. He suggests that assessment for longer-term learning assumes that:

  • it must contribute to students' learning in a positive way,
  • it needs to take account of how the student is to take forward what is learnt into the future, i.e. when the course, or unit of study is over,
  • it should develop students ability to judge what constitutes good work,
  • students must be active learners,
  • students must be engaged in some form of practice.

Undergraduate research and inquiry in the curriculum lends itself to this kind of assessment. Essentially research is a process and the research process should be as much about the assessment as the learning. In other words, assessment must be authentic; i.e. it must match, or be consistent with the process of research.

So assessment might be through written abstracts or articles or critical bibliographies which are research-based activities, not through examinations and multiple choice tests which contradict the spirit of undergraduates engaging in research and inquiry.

View examples and resources to assist in designing assessment of undergraduate research and inquiry.

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If you wish to pursue ideas about assessment further go to

Further discussion of some of the ideas can be found in:
Boud, D. (2000) Sustainable assessment: rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education, 22, 2: 151-167.