Assessment is one of the biggest challenges for new and experienced teachers. Most of the time grading requires that qualitative judgments become quantitative, in a way that often feels arbitrary or inconsistent. Students, and sometimes their parents, are nervous and often upset about grades. Assessment at its best is a communication tool that tells students what skills they have developed and how they should proceed. And it goes both ways. Classroom Assessment Techniques are quick, simple activities you can use to determine what students understand and where they still need help. We've compiled these resources to make assessment less stressful and more useful for both you and the students.
- Use a rubric that students have access to while they are working; refer to this rubric in your comments. [sample rubric?]
- Direct your comments to the student, not the artifact (paper, test, poster, etc.) Rather than asking what would make the assignment sufficient, ask yourself what the student needs to know to meet the learning objectives.
- Provide frequent, prompt and facilitative assessment throughout the course so that both you and your students can use assessment to guide future learning. Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) serve this purpose well.
- No matter what you think of grades, they're very important to most students and often have very real consequences or determine a student's future opportunities. Be prepared to discuss your assessment with them.
- Have clear systems for assessing outcomes that are difficult to quantify such as discussion, participation, argumentation, "style".
(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)
TEP's section on rubrics, which offers an introduction to rubrics, and various rubric resources and samples.
What is a Rubric?
Sample rubrics from the Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies at the University of Virginia.
Example Rubrics from several disciplines
From the University of Wisconsin: numerous examples of rubrics for several kinds of assignments in several disciplines.
Our own guide to assessment in the learner centered classroom.
What are you really assessing?
Important questions to ask before you begin any assessment. From the American Psychological Association
What should your students be able to do at the end of the term
PennState's excellent site on learning objectives, why we need them, how to create/define them and use them to guide lesson planning.
Overview of Assessment Categories
A comprehensive guide by the APA, designed specifically for use in psychology courses but applicable in several disciplines, that examines and evaluates the value of each of the major assessment categories (overall analysis, objective tests, essay tests, individual and group projects, multiple choice, presentations etc.). Includes specific recommendations to maximize the utility of each approach.
Ways to Assess Student Learning During Class
TEP's section providing short student engagement activities measuring evidence of student learning during class.
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
TEP's section on CATs, which offers various resources and samples.
Classroom Assessment Techniques (PDF
What are CATs? Simple activities faculty can use to collect feedback, early and often, on how well their students are learning what they are being taught. They provide faculty and students with information and insights needed to improve teaching effectiveness and learning quality. College instructors use feedback gleaned through Classroom Assessment to inform adjustments in their teaching. Faculty also share feedback with students, using it to help them improve their learning strategies and study habits in order to become more independent and successful learners. (compiled from Angelo, T.A. and Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Technologies (Second Edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.)
What's really going on when a student is angry about a grade?
From the University of Minnesota at Morris, a response to a teacher who encountered a student who was angry about a grade. Useful and compassionate.
The University of Virginia Teaching Resource Center's guide to assessing student participation, includes sample rubric.
The Higher Education Academy's guide to resources for assessing creative thought in several disciplines.