In this guide
- Outcomes to Assessment
- Selecting Outcomes
- Determining Content
- Determining Pedagogy
- Selecting an Assessment Activity or Tool
- Determining Criteria
- Types of Assessment
- Questions to Ask
- Formative vs. Summative Assessment
- Performance Assessments
- Classroom Assessment Techniques
- Fixed-Choice Tests
- Assessment Activities
- Activities by Outcome
Additional Readings on this Topic
From Outcomes to Assessment
Below is an image of the ideal process for preparing for teaching a class, starting with definining outcomes and ending with what criteria you will use to determine whether a student has achieved those outcomes.
For a single class session, select the 2-4 things that you most want students to learn from your instruction session. You'll usually want to select no more than three for a 1 hour session.
Example: Students in a class have to select a historical figure involved in ecology/environmentalism that they will research for the entire term. They will need to find biographical information, things they've written, as well as information on attitudes towards ecology and environmentalism at the time in which they were active.
To me, the three things they really needed to learn were how to use reference sources to get general information about the historical figures they might want to research, determine the best places to search for the different aspects of their research, and determine whether an article or book they're looking at is relevant/useful.
I defined three outcomes for this session:
- Use general information resources to increase familiarity with the topic and disciplinary vocabulary.
- Identify the features and content of different research sources (such as databases, catalogs and websites) in order to search those most appropriate to the information need.
- Examine a work’s citation and abstract in order to determine its relevance to their research.
Content is a list of the things you actually plan to cover in the session that will ensure that students will know how to do the outcome well. They should flow from the outcomes.
Example: If my outcome was to "identify keywords, synonyms and related terms in order to flexibly search information resources" I might select the following content to cover:
1. Turning topics into keywords
2. Thinking of synonyms and related terms or phrases
3. Sources for brainstorming keywords (i.e. reference sources)
4. Boolean operators to connect those keywords
Pedagogy is how you actually plan to teach that content; the learning activities.
Example: If I was covering the content from the previous example (brainstorming keywords), my pedagogy might be a brief lecture and demonstration followed by an active learning exercise in which each table brainstorms keywords related to a specific topic and then compares the terms they came up with with those from other tables.
Selecting an Assessment Activity or Tool
When looking to come up with an assessment, think about how will you be able to determine whether or not the students have learned what you set out to teach them with your outcomes? Assessments can be classroom activities, worksheets that students have to complete, quizes, pre-tests/post-tests, students self-assessments, authentic student work that's already part of the class, and much more. They can be very simple and lightweight or very complex and requiring significant collaboration with the instructor.
Example: In the example above with brainstorming keywords, the assessment could be the activity itself, as it would demonstrate how well the students could brainstorm keywords. If I wanted to assess each student individually, I could assign a worksheet that would ask them (among other things) to brainstorm keywords on their own topic.
The criteria is what you use when looking at your assessment to determine whether students did well or not. Rubrics are certainly one easy way to develop criteria that allow you to assess each student's work in the exact same way. Rubrics help you to define what success looks like, what partial success looks like and what failure looks like in terms of mastery of that learning outcome.
Example: From the example of the worksheet above, I could use the following rubric to determine whether each student has a firm grasp of the concepts:
Determines key concepts that reflect the research question/thesis (including more than just those terms used in the research question/thesis) but does not identify synonymous terms.
Lists the same terms used in the research question/thesis with nothing additional.
Does not determine any concepts that describe the research question/thesis.