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The purpose of assessment is to measure learning so clear instructions, and a detailed marking rubric should be provided to students, so they know exactly what is required of them. When you develop your assessment regime, consider the following areas.
Define the purpose
|Assessments can be either formative (how am I doing?) or summative (how did I do?).
Use Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to help you identify the purpose of your assessment based on the level of learning you want students to achieve. Download this handout for more information on appropriate assessments, activities and resources for each level of learning.
Reliability and validity
|A reliable assessment ensures that the same students will consistently achieve the same result and the same mark will be given when different lecturers grade an assessment. For reliable assessments:
A valid assessment accurately measures what it is meant to measure. For valid assessments:
A rubric makes the criteria for marking explicit. The teacher – and anyone else involved in the assessment (second marker for example) – can clearly see the criteria associated with the different grades. Students can be guided by the rubric as they complete the assignment. The rubric will help students to understand what is expected of them and it will help to communicate high expectations to the students.
Carnegie Mellon University has useful information about rubrics including a full explanation and examples of rubrics that can help you create your own.
When the process of providing feedback is carried out well, feedback can motivate students and help them to improve their performance. Constructive feedback is information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations. Constructive feedback will identify strengths (what the student has done well) and areas for improvement (where the student might have done better).
Feedback should be:
Feedback can be informal, in day-to-day encounters between teachers and students or it can be more formal as part of written assessments. To encourage independent learning, provide comments and suggestions to support self-correction. For example, prompt the student to review their work and self-identify where they went wrong.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has created a comprehensive report on enhancing assessment practices. It includes 12 evidence-based principles of good assessment and feedback and gives examples to implement in your own practice.
One way to evaluate an assessment is to look at the performance of students on an individual assessment task. Evaluating assessment results in detail can help you identify strengths and weaknesses of the assessment.
Good starting questions for an evaluation include:
Based on your evaluation, you may need to alter the assessment to improve reliability and validity. You might also need to reconsider the alignment of the assessment with the learning activities and learning outcomes. Whenever students perform in an unexpected way, there is usually misalignment between these areas. Misalignment may lead to a revision of the learning outcomes, to redesigning learning activities and/or changing the assessment to ensure validity.