Assessments are activities designed to test the students’ competence in the learning objectives of a module or course, while also giving students the opportunities to improve their learning. Assessments are also opportunities for instructors to inform their teaching practices. One essential component of assessment is feedback. Clarity is important in both assessment instructions and feedback, regardless of the delivery medium.
- Align your assessments’ criteria to learning objectives. Assessment activities should be aligned to learning objectives, particularly if the activities are formally assessed and graded. Well-designed assessments should give an indication of the standards of students’ expected performance associated with each learning objective. (Allan, 1996)
- Ensure the assessment rubric is clearly worded. You should have a clear idea of what your students should achieve and what are the essential features and skills to measure; state this expectation explicitly in the learning objectives. (Kennedy, 2006; Biggs, 2003)
- Ensure the assessment instructions and feedback are clear and student-oriented. Instructions should be understandable to and directed at the students, and feedback needs to be aligned to the assessed learning objective, informing the students of the extent to which they achieved it and how to improve. In giving feedback, consider showing practical examples of how a ‘good’ answer could be presented, or pointing students to resources that help them better understand the assessment requirements. (Kennedy, 2006; Biggs, 2003)
- Consider balancing formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are ungraded or low-stakes activities that help students 1) learn by doing and 2) check their understanding of the content. Summative assessments are graded assignments that formally evaluate student learning at the end of a module or course.(Sewell et al., 2010)