Explanation of Assessment-First Curriculum Design
The RSD has been used as a conceptual framework to modify the way that existing assessments are marked.
This modification then begins to change the way that lecturers represent the purpose of assessments to students, emphasising the development of students' research skills in the discipline. This in turn affects student engagement. Some lecturers report that relatively small changes have led to substantial differences in the way they may talk in class about a journal article or about a laboratory task. This ultimately alters the whole purpose and feel of a course.
A common first step to redeveloping the curriculum of a course is the development of a diagnostic assessment - typically a task which requires students to synthesise several literature sources - and which is marked up to Level 2 of an RSD-inspired marking rubric.
Next, academics reframe the marking of an existing late-in-semester assessment so that it too takes on the RSD appearance of 6 facets and is marked up to Level 3 or Level 4.
With these 2 RSD-modified tasks as bookends, the academics then respond initially with changes in emphasis of use of existing resources, which significantly affects the implemented curriculum. We are finding that over time, more and more substantial changes are made to assessments and curriculum, as evident in the Human Biology examples that follow.