Planning and Implementation

How do I plan, design and implement assessment tasks that promote student learning? Below are some tips and steps which may help you:

Step 1: Identifying learning outcomes (ILOs) to be assessed

Learning outcomes describe how students will be different because of a learning experience. More specifically, learning outcomes are the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students take with them from a learning experience. Before creating assessment tasks, you need to decide what you want students to learn from the assessment task. To identify learning outcomes, you may ask yourself the questions below before and after setting up an assessment task:

  • What is its purpose of this assessment task?
  • What do you expect students to learn by completing it?
  • What should the completed task look like?

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Step 2: Aligning assessment with ILOs at different levels

When you have identified the learning outcomes to be assessed, it is important to check if your assessment task is aligned with the course’s, program’s and institution’s ILOs. Aligning assessment tasks with ILOs at different levels enables assessment to be viewed as part of an integrated, collaborative learning experience. Students’ learning is deeper and more lasting when they see the assessment tasks are not isolated experience but are a coherent, connected experience.

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Step 3: Choosing assessment methods

Once you have identified the learning outcomes to be assessed, choosing assessment methods appropriate to the outcomes will help your students to achieve them. You can choose appropriate assessment methods using the verbs used in your course ILOs as a guideline (see Types of assessment activities).

Another point to note when choosing assessment methods is variety. Never overuse one mode of assessment because each assessment type has its own limitations, (see Advantages & disadvantages). For example, MCQs is useful for checking knowledge recall and basic understanding but difficult in assessing higher-order thinking such as analysis, synthesis or evaluation. A well-balanced mixture of different assessment methods should be employed to minimize the limitations of each method.  having a variety of assessment methods also acknowledges students’ different learning approaches and thus upholding the principle of catering for learner difference.

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Step 4: Setting up rubrics

Rubrics are scoring criteria that identify the characteristics and mastery levels one will use to assess students’ work. They contain:

  • levels of achievement

  • criteria that distinguish good work from poor work

  • descriptions of performance for each criteria at each level of achievement

When assessment tasks are aligned with ILOs, we need to know what evidence from the assessment tasks says about how well the ILOs have been achieved by a particular student. This is a matter of judgment and in order to keep our judgments consistently reliable (for one assessor across all students for an assessed task and among assessors), a rubric is needed to aid accurate, unbiased and consistent grading.

Good Practices in Using Rubrics:

1. Establish the validity and reliability of rubrics

The quality of a rubric lies in its validity and reliability, a well-defined rubric should be positive to the questions below:

  • Does the rubric reflect the learning outcomes?

  • Is the rubric measuring the skills and competences which learners are intended to develop?

  • Is the rubric practical and feasible?

  • Would different assessors award the same marks/ grades to each student?

  • Is the rubric fair to all learners?

2. Use rubrics with your students

  • Self-assess
    Rubrics can help students self-improve if you encourage students to self-evaluate using the rubric before turning in their assignment.

  • Peer-assess
    Get students to work in pairs and evaluate each other’s work. Ask them to compare the results of self and peer assessment and explain the reasons for the similarities and differences between the two.

  • Authority
    Share with students the assessment results given by an expert and help them to develop an action plan for improvement from synthesizing all results. and feedback

3. Use rubrics to generate quality feedback

  • For students
    Marked rubrics give students a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses than a few comment written on their papers or reports. When giving comments or feedback, always use a rubric as the fundamental reference for your feedback.

  • For teaching staff
    Rubrics improve feedback for teaching staff. If many students find it difficult to demonstrate understanding of a particular concept, rubrics bring this to your attention and helps with refining the assessment activities or methods as needed.

4. Rubrics must be transparent and spelt out clearly to both students and staff

A rubrics is more than a table about the marks and criteria, it should serve as a guide in providing feedback to students on how well they have achieved the outcomes so far AND what they can do if they would like to perform better. Therefore, it is important to make sure that students are well- informed of the rubrics before and after the assessment. Likewise, staff should be well-informed of the rubrics before they can grade fairly and provide any quality feedback to students.

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