Types of assessments

Assessments undertaken by the Sustainability Education Academy are based on a mixture of question types. These include both quiz assessments which can be automatically marked within the Learning Management System (LMS) and those which are marked by an expert human assessor.

Quiz assessments within the LMS

Assessments that are automatically marked within the LMS can be made from any combination of the following types:

  • Single choice
  • Multiple choice
  • Free choice
  • Sorting choice
  • Matrix sorting choice
  • Fill in the blank

For questions requiring calculations, and where there is only one correct answer, the “free choice” question style is preferred, as it is only possible to get the question write by undertaking the correct calculation, there is zero element of guesswork or chance involved.

As assessments are also a useful teaching tool (students learn from mistakes, provided the reason for the mistake is clear), when the quiz results are presented to students the reasoning for the correct answer is also provided. Where calculations are required to arrive at an answer, the steps in the calculation are presented. In some cases screen casts illustrating how the solution was arrived at are also presented.

Assessments marked by an expert human assessor

For cornerstone certifications that are achieved by successfully passing several courses, such as the Proficient Investment Grade Auditor (PIGA) certification, there is a dedicated final assessment task marked by an expert human assessor.

Assessors use an evidence guide when undertaking such assessments.

In some courses, in addition to questions automatically marked by the LMS, instructors may require students to upload a file or submit a short written response, which is then reviewed by an expert – usually the instructor.

Where the solution is relatively simple, an instructor will provide direct written feedback to the instructor.

Where the assignment or solution is complex, the instructor creates an entire lesson which provides a detailed worked solution to an assignment. In this case an instructor may only provide a sentence long response to the student’s submission, noting that the student has access to the worked solution.

Assessment principles

These principles come from the Australian Skills Quality Authority.


Assessment principleHow the Sustainability Education Academy Achieves this
FairnessAssessments made automatically within the LMS are made “blind” in respect to the student. There is no tailoring of assessments to suit an student’s individual learning needs. This also means that the assessment lacks bias in respect to the sex, age, ethnicity, appearance or any other similar factor, and all students are assessed equally.  
Assessments made by an instructor or expert are based solely on the content of what is submitted by the student. To ensure fairness complex assessments, or cornerstone certifications, follow an evidence guide.
FlexibilityStudents are free to skip lessons within a course, but must complete all assessments in order to demonstrate competence. Students with prior knowledge could be expected to pass these assessments on the first attempt.
ValidityCourses are broken down into different lessons, with each lesson typically addressing one or more competencies. A lesson may also be broken down into several topics. An assessment is presented at the end of each lesson, designed to assess against the competencies covered in the lesson.
Instructors draw on their practical experience to write assessments that are related to practical application of the skills and knowledge applied. Where an understanding of theoretical concepts is necessary to be able to flexibly apply knowledge across a range of situations and circumstances, students are also tested for their understanding of the theory.
ReliabilityConsistency in marking is achieved automatically with assessments marked automatically within the LMS. Where assessments are marked by an instructor, the use of an evidence guide help ensure consistency of marking.

Rules of Evidence

These rules of evidence come from the Australian Skills Quality Authority.


Rule of evidenceHow the Sustainability Education Academy Achieves applies this
ValidityTo achieve a certificate at the end of the course the student must pass all the assessments in the course. The assessments are designed to test against the competencies and learning outcomes.
SufficiencyQuestions are randomly drawn from a question bank, and if a student fails an assessment they are required to resit the assessment, in which it is probable that a different set of questions will be presented (questions are always selected randomly).
AuthenticityOnly registered users are able to complete assessments. For cornerstone certifications photographic evidence and third party attestation as to identity is required and is verified*
CurrencyAssessments are taken during the course, and are dated. As certification is only based on passing the assessments, the assessments can be shown to have been undertaken in the very recent past. 

*For example, the PIGA certification, which requires the student to undertake an audit, requires the student to provide the following evidence which is used to validate authenticity:

  1. Photograph of the student with the referee with the name of the audited company clearly visible. It must be undertaken at the site at which the audit was undertaken. The photograph must be geolocation tagged. The GPS on the students phone must be enabled when taking the photo. This is used to verify that the photo was undertaken at the address of the audited site.
  2. Referee details for the company that was audited. The referee is contacted via video call to verify that the student is the person who undertook the audit. The photo of the referee is also used to verify the identity of the referee
  3. Video call with the student. The photograph is used to verify the identity of the student.

Assessment validation

Assessments will be reviewed no less than once every five years by an independent expert.

Appeals Process

Any student who believes that the assessment results are inappropriate must in the first instance contact the instructor for the course.

The instructor is required to respond to this request, and if necessary, may add additional explanatory notes in the LMS which are then available to all students.

If a student wishes to appeal this response made by the instructor, a complaint can be made by contacting the learning administrator (learningadmin@sustemy.com).

The learning administrator will:

  1. Discuss the complaint with the instructor and come to a conclusion as to if the complaint is either:
    • Invalid
    • Valid
    • Cannot be determined (e.g. because the learning administrator does not have the subject matter knowledge)
  2. In the case of 1. (a) the student will be advised. If the student still wishes to appeal, the student may request a review of a third party expert.
  3. In the case of 1. (b) the assessment will be amended accordingly and the student notified. Additionally either the LMS will be updated, or the evidence guide, whichever is appropriate, in the case a similar circumstance arises in the future.
  4. In the case of 1.(c) or 2. (student still wishing to appeal)– a third party expert will be contacted to review and respond. The decision of the third party expert will be deemed final.
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