Defining Assessment Items from Learning Goals

Written By: Cudy

24th June 2021

You’ve defined learning goals and activities. Now you need to define assessment items. If you’re working with others, discuss what types of assessment items will be useful for each goal.

Will the item be a take-home assignment? A presentation? A quiz? An essay? A demonstration? Or something else entirely?

Next, choose a format for the assessment item that is appropriate for the activity and compatible with your learning goals. Is it a good idea to combine multiple formats in one activity or goal? Should the item be graded or not? How much weight should it carry in your overall assessment of learning success?

Defining Assessment Items from Learning Goals

Assessment activities are most effective when they support and reinforce your teaching methods. For example, if you use cooperative learning, then it makes sense to develop an assessment item that requires students to work together on a project.

If you encourage student discussion in class, then an essay or presentation might be appropriate as an assessment item. On the other hand, if you teach with lectures and emphasize the individual effort of students, then a take-home quiz might be more appropriate as an assessment item for your students.

Identifying Sources of Assessment Items

As you consider the various assessment items that might be appropriate for your course, you may find that there are some gaps in your inventory. You may need to write a test, quiz, or take-home assignment to cover a topic. Or you may need to gather information from a colleague or outside source.

How do you find good sources of assessment items? You can try the following methods:

• Identify available resources in your department and on campus.

For example, does your department have standard tests that you can use? If so, where are they kept? What kinds of questions are they designed to measure? Do they cover all the topics and skills that you’ve identified as important for students to learn? How much weight should they carry in your overall assessment of learning success?

• Look for tests from other departments or courses that might be useful.

Does another instructor have similar courses or a similar approach to teaching? Are there any standardized tests that could be used as a source of questions or activities?

• Consult with colleagues who teach similar courses at other schools.

Are there any resources they use in their classes that might work well for yours?

• Look for commercial resources such as textbooks, workbooks, tests, and sample syllabi.

Do they include good assessment items? If so, where can you find them? Are they appropriate for your course? How much weight should they carry in your overall assessment of learning success?

• Ask students or recent graduates about sources of tests and quizzes.

What kinds of assignments have they found most useful in your course?

• Review assessment items from other courses or instructors that you’ve found useful.

Are there any ideas that could be adapted for use in your class? What format would be most appropriate for the activity or goal? What weight should it carry in your overall assessment of learning success?

Now that you’ve reviewed your options, make a list of the sources of assessment items that you’ll use in your course. Be sure to note where you can find them and how much weight they should carry in your overall assessment of learning success.

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