Immersed as we are in our fields, it can be difficult to describe and appropriately sequence the projects, tasks, and essential questions of our disciplines. But students often come to class with a vague or misdirected idea of what it means to write an essay or report, to analyze, assess or research in the discipline. A well-designed assignment is more than a means of assessment, it's an opportunity for learning and practice. These resources will help you design productive, intelligible assignments that your students enjoy.
Students will do the work for which they are held accountable.
Give students different ways to demonstrate their progress: writing, presentation, discussion, etc.
Be clear about the criteria for assessment and connect those criteria to learning objectives, coursework, lectures, etc
Prepare students for tests, help them understand what material, concepts and skills are most important.
Test on the material, concepts and skills that will make a difference a year from now.
Use multiple choice questions that challenge students' critical thinking skills.
(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)
Assignment Centered Course Planning
University of Minnesota's guide to Assignment Centered Course Planning - Making the graded assignments closely tied to essential skills and course goals, giving students ample motivation to learn.
Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Explains the basics of authentic assessment and provides several types of authentic tasks and guides on how to choose which authentic task is best for your class, guides for choosing and creating analytic or holistic rubrics. Also has instructions for creating and evaluating portfolio assignments.
Active Learning Assignments ( PDF file)
Simple options for active learning assignments from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Guide to Different Grading Systems
University of Minnesota's guide to different grading systems, including reviews of curve vs. criterion schema and alternate systems such as, contract grading peer grading and self evaluation.
What Makes a Grading System Accurate and Fair?
Explains the basics of what makes a grading system effective and fair .
U Tech in Sydney: Institute for Interactive Media and Learning's guide to assessment. Includes guides for creating legible criteria and online assessment.
Methods for assessment divided by type of knowledge
Hong Kong Polytechnic's guide to assessment strategies. Includes examples of methods for assessment divided by type of knowledge: declarative functioning etc.
Tests and Grading
This section of our site offers various resources for using tests as an assessment tool and preparing students for taking tests.
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
Field-Tested Learning Assessment Guide. From the National Institute for Science Education, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,for science, math, engineering, and technology instructors. There's a useful section of "Tools" that has assignments, worksheets, etc, you can take right from the site, though they might be hard to modify. The site provides a primer on assessment that gives an overview of innovative alternative assessment strategies. The heart of the guide is the description of each CAT (or classroom assessment technique), written by a university instructor, including personal experiences with the method, clear descriptions of what is involved, how to proceed, and how to analyze results.
[Top]Critical Thinking: Multiple Choice Questions
Our own section on creating multiple choice questions that stimulate and asses critical thinking.