Glossary of terms
The terms are explained here as they are used in these guidelines and appear in blue font in the text:
Academese: the term is used here with a negative connotation to refer to the use of language which although perhaps appropriate to communicate with other specialists, would be less accessible to the wider academic community and is unlikely to be appropriate in an assignment brief.
Academic literacy: disciplinary and professional knowledge, understanding and skills and extent of integration within the discipline-specific academic and /or professional community of practice.
Assessment literacy: understanding of, and competence in, handling assessment, feedback, feed forward and awareness of their contribution to learning.
Assignment: a non exam-based assessment task. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘coursework’.
Audience: the intended recipient of the written or spoken text type.
Brief: the written instructions provided to communicate expectations and requirements for written or spoken assessment tasks. The brief is also sometimes known as the assignment instructions, criteria, specifications or rubric. It is not used here to refer to aspects of the task design itself, to the assessment criteria or to other forms of assessment such as exams.
Chunking: refers to the grouping of aspects of requirements and expectations for assessment tasks in manageable sized units to reduce potential information overload and support effective, in-depth processing of information.
Cognitive resources: the mental capacity available to the student to allocate to the various aspects of the assignment.
Communicative effectiveness: the extent to which assessment instructions achieve their communication of the intended task requirements and expectations.
Components: this refers to the various elements of the assessment task.
Constituents: this refers to the various elements, or parts, of the assignment brief instructions.
Cover sheet: a front page of the assignment with information including such details as student name and number, statement of originality and word count. This is sometimes an institutional requirement with a template provided for student use.
Cue-seekers: students who are predisposed to engage in dialogue about the assignment requirements and task expectations and thus more likely to request clarification of these.
Delivery: this refers to the stage when the assignment is set and the instructions provided.
Exemplar: a completed assessment task which reflects, in terms of text type and academic conventions, similar characteristics to that which the assignment brief stipulates.
Expectations: these refer to the aspects of the assessed task underlying its performance and primarily involve the application of knowledge and skills (compare with requirements).
Explicitness: the degree to which understanding of the expectations and requirements of an assignment depends on knowledge obtained from the brief itself rather than from sources out with the brief.
Features: the characteristics of the brief such as its layout, degree of explicitness and use of language.
Format: a widely used term to refer to the way information is organised in texts. Sometimes referred to as text structure.
Inclusivity: the avoidance of excluding or disadvantaging students on the grounds of, for example, gender, race, class, sexuality, disability or language competence.
Layout: the way text is formatted and set out on the page.
Patchwork assignment: an assignment task which is made up of a combination of two or more text types and so has more than one audience, language style, layout and so on. Alternatively, it refers to an assignment task with several extracts from one text type.
Readability: the level of difficulty in interpreting the brief, which depends on degree of complexity of its grammar, language and discourse.
Requests for clarification: occasions when a student approaches teaching staff, support services or other students, to clarify an assignment’s requirements or expectations.
Requirements: these refer to elements of the assessment task such as word count, submission mode and deadlines that must be adhered to (compare with expectations).
Scaffolding: various means by which guidance in the brief, in line with current needs and competence, is provided to support students in completing assessment tasks.
Schemas: existing conceptual frameworks that facilitate the efficient and effective processing and interpretation of information.
Sequencing: various means by which guidance in the brief, in line with student needs and competence, is provided to support in completing the assessment task.
Spoon-feeding: a negative term used to refer to a degree of support to students in task completion in the brief which is such that it restricts student autonomy, capacity to develop and opportunities for creativity. Common associated terms are ‘hand holding’, ‘near recipes’ or ‘prescriptive’.
Tacit knowledge: the term is used here to refer to knowledge that has become so much part of the teacher’s cognitive repertoire that they are not immediately aware it might need to be made explicit to students.
Text role: this refers to the role the student is to assume as the producer of their oral or written assessment task.
Text structure: a widely used term to refer to the way information is organised in texts. Sometimes referred to as format.
Text type: The term text type is used here to refer to written or spoken texts. Texts with the same or very similar features such as language, discourse and layout, would be considered as one text type. A research report is a text type. A case study is a sub-text type.
VLE: the Virtual Learning Environment where electronic media and information communication technologies are combined in one platform for educational purposes.