Reflection Toolkit

Assessing activities

Reflective activities can be a great method for engaging your students in different ways. Below are considerations to make if you have chosen to assess the activities.


Term How it is used in this section
Assessment Refers to when one or more people judge how well a completed task meets specific criteria. This can include self-assessment, peer-assessment and assessment performed by staff.  In ‘for completion’ assessment, the only criteria for assessment is whether or not the task has been completed; the quality of completion is not judged.
Activity Refers to any task completed during contact hours such as reflective discussions, group work, journal writing, or presentations.  These may or may not be assessed.
Assignment Refers to any task completed outside of contact hours such as reflective projects, essays, or journals.  These may or may not be assessed. 

Reflective activities can be included quite easily both in a tutorial/workshop and in lectures. For instance, you can ask a series of reflective questions for students to think about and answer either alone or in groups. This sort of brief reflective activity does not need to include any form of assessment. If you decide you want to assess your reflective activity, possible ways of doing so are highlighted below.

Assigning marks or assessing a reflective activity can be quite challenging, however it is possible to do. You can choose to assess the reflective process or the product of the reflective activity. Moreover, assessing activities can be a great opportunity for both self- and peer-assessment.


Assessing the output of a reflective activity

Choosing to ask the participants of a reflective activity to produce an output (for instance, written reflection, presentation, video, etc.) can be an easy way to ensure people will participate. It is then possible to assess the output as a proxy for the effectiveness of the reflective activity.

If you choose to mark the output, the process and considerations are in essence similar to that of assessing an assignment, and you can therefore use the information for assignments.

Assessing assignments (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)


Assessing the process of a reflective activity

Both formative and summative assessments are possible when looking at the process of reflective activities. While both are possible, marking it summatively can put extra stress on the students – this will be highlighted below.

Marking the process is much like marking participation – but remember the reflective aspect

The easiest way of introducing assessments of a reflective activity is marking participation. This can be done in a similar way to tutorial participation or any other participation marks you may want to give. It is extremely important that while you mark participation, you also remember the reflective element of the activity.

Just as with marking participation in other areas, you should ensure the quality of the contributions match what you are looking for in the reflective activity. While frequency of contributions are important, you need to make sure that you are also assessing the reflective element. This must be clear in your assessment criteria, which are essential for communicating to students what you want them to focus on in the activity.

As suggested, there are multiple ways in which the reflective assignments can be assessed.


Marked by lecturer/workshop leader




  • By marking an activity you allow students to receive course marks from a range of tasks within a course – some people might prefer assessments that look at using skills and actively participating.
  • Encourages students to prepare and participate
  • It is easy to reward quantity of contribution over quality – if you are assessing reflection, this should be mirrored in your marking
  • It may create tension and inhibit participation for certain students – especially non-native English speakers
  • Marking the reflective element can make some students believe they have to engage in uncomfortable levels of self-disclosure to achieve a good grade. Ensure your criteria protect against this.
  • Hard to assess objectively
  • Depending on the activity, it can be hard to be aware of all students at once (for example if they work in groups)


  • Promotes participation, although potentially to a lesser extent than summative assessment
  • Allows students to try participation and reflection in a low-stakes environment
  • Some students may be less likely to participate fully if they are not receiving marks
  • Students may still feel ‘forced’ to participate and disclose, but to a lesser extent than for summative assessments


Formative assessment can be used at any point prior to a summative assessment. If assessing a reflective activity for marks, it is good practice to have provided a formative assessment previously.


Using peer- and self-assessment

It can be extremely beneficial to use either peer- or self-assessment in reflective activities. Some of the clear benefits are:

  • You do not have to monitor all students as they can monitor each other or themselves. This can free-up your time, plus you ensure that grading is not affected by where your attention is and who you can see and hear.
  • Assessing others and oneself is a great learning opportunity to start assessing quality of work against specified standards. This is a valuable skill to have in a professional job and boosts students’ assessment literacy.
  • Self-assessment is particularly reflective in nature and will therefore help instil reflective thinking and learning.

You will have to create clear guidelines for students on how and what to assess, but this should take less time than marking each student. Ensure that these guidelines are clear for both the participation element and reflective element.

It can be especially helpful to provide students with a rubric. If students are marking all members in a group you can moderate by using all the marks and feedback for each student to inform their final mark.

Some of the challenges with using peer or self-assessment include:

  • it can be difficult to moderate and will therefore be harder to use in summative settings
  • you need to have clear instructions; without them students may give inappropriate feedback or focus on irrelevant aspects of the activity
  • there is a risk that students will mark each other either too generously or too harshly to manipulate grades; this is a challenge for summative assessments.



It is possible to assess reflective activities. When doing so, it can be helpful to think about formative assessment as this will put less pressure on students to over-share and avoids tensions. Summative assessments can be used and generally you can assess either the product or the process of a reflective activity.

For a formative assessment, think about using peer or self assessment but ensure that clear guidelines are provided.

Whether or not you use peer or self assessment, make sure you have clear assessment criteria and ensure that your criteria focus on the reflective aspect as well as the participation aspect.


Where next?

To get a sense of typical assessment criteria when assessing reflection, head to the assessment criteria page. For sample rubrics, see the assessment rubrics page.

Assessment criteria (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)

Assessment rubrics (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)



University of New South Wales resources on marking participation – including rubrics (external website)