Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Newspaper article/editorial

A newspaper article or editorial can be a useful assessment task for assessing critical thinking and the ability to make judgements. It is relevant for learning outcomes that result in students being able to develop arguments, reflect, evaluate, assess and judge.

A newspaper article or editorial can be delivered in the following ways during the COVID-19 situation as an alternative to a paper-based final examination:

  1. Non-time limited final assessment—often known as a ‘take-home’, the task is not performed under ‘exam-like’ time constraints and is provided to students at least several days before the due date. A common platform for submission of such a task is EASTS.
  2. Time limited, non-invigilated online exam—the task is undertaken online under ‘exam-like’ time constraints (typically 1-3 hours) but is open book, allowing students to refer to any material they can access.

Pros and cons of newspaper articles as assessment

Some advantages:

  • A newspaper article or editorial generally has a standardised structure for student guidance and rubric construction.
  • Provides a good tool for critical analysis.
  • Allows for the demonstration of creativity.
  • Can be useful in all disciplines and of particular relevance to communications.
  • Aligns with learning outcomes & cognitive processes related to developing arguments, evaluating, assessing, judging, identifying problems, analysing data, reviewing, managing information, interpreting sources, demonstrating knowledge and understanding, relating, synthesising, researching, communication.

Some limitations:

  • Relevance to students may be difficult to justify unless there is a direct relationship.
  • Standardised format can lead to rubrics that are focused on format rather than learning outcomes.
  • The format may be unfamiliar to students, so requires scaffolding in preparation.
  • The format may advantage those students who have well developed writing skills.
  • This is one of the many recognised forms of assessment that are targeted by contract cheating services.

Some considerations when developing a newspaper article as an assessment task

  • Ensure the topic is aligned with learning outcomes and subject content.
  • Clearly define the topic of the article to be written and its scope.
  • Show and discuss examples of format, structure and style.
  • Ensure you include the requirement to conduct research.
  • Emphasize the need to base the article on supported factual information.
  • Provide information about the intended audience.
  • An editorial places more emphasis on the communication of opinion; again, show and discuss examples, so the difference is made clear.

Additional resources

The resources below provide examples of assessment tasks that incorporate newspaper articles:

The following resources are for students, and are useful as resources in subjects. They also provide guidance in terms of designing newspaper article assessment: