By Diane Starke, El Paso Community College
Purpose: This self-paced module will acquaint the reader with
the key concepts, background information, and techniques of classroom
assessment and evaluation. Many of these annotated web sites provide practical
Section 1: Authentic
Authentic assessment refers to assessment tasks that
resemble reading and writing in the real world and in school (Hiebert,
Valencia & Afflerbach, 1994; Wiggins, 1993). Its aim is to assess
many different kinds of literacy abilities in contexts that closely resemble
actual situations in which those abilities are used. For example, authentic
assessments ask students to read real texts, to write for authentic purposes
about meaningful topics, and to participate in authentic literacy tasks
such as discussing books, keeping journals, writing letters, and revising
a piece of writing until it works for the reader. Both the material and
the assessment tasks look as natural as possible. Furthermore, authentic
assessment values the thinking behind work, the process, as much as the
finished product (Pearson & Valencia, 1987; Wiggins, 1989; Wolf, 1989).
Jon Mueller’s site, Authentic Assessment Toolbox, explains what
it is, why educational theorists advocate it, and most importantly, how
to practice it!
The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction site provides links to
authentic assessment resources: questions and answers, articles,
performance assessment of critical thinking, and creating rubrics. http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/ae0/al_perform.html
The same site discusses the difference between “assessment”
and “evaluation” and lists the characteristics of effective
“Structures for Student Self-Assessment” emphasizes the importance
of self-assessment to critical thinking. The author includes techniques
that can be used by students in assessing reading, writing, listening,
and speaking. The article concludes with a Global Self-Assessment,
requiring students to do a global analysis of the strengths and weaknesses
of their performance in a class.
John P. Lowe at Penn State’s Center for Excellent in Teaching and
Learning addresses the problems related to assessment when teaching large
classes. He stresses the importance of choosing assessment strategies
that take into account how students learn. The site provides a sampling
of the following assessment strategies:
- Syllabus and Day 1 Questionnaire
- Analysis of Performance on the First Exam
- Second Exam Follow-up
- Bringing a Daily Problem to the Lecture
- In-class Problem
- The Lab Write-up
The University of Victoria’s website briefly
defines and explains Bloom’s work, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:
The Classification of Educational Goals
3: Classroom Assessment Techniques
This resource from the University of Leicester’s CASTLE (Computer-Assisted
Teaching Learning) Toolkit defines the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy
and then applies those levels in the construction of multiple-choice questions.
Examples of test questions are provided.
Classroom Assessment is a simple method faculty can
use to collect feedback, early and often, on how well their students are
learning what they are being taught. The purpose of classroom assessment
is to 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, successful learners.... Classroom Assessment
is one method of inquiry within the framework of Classroom Research, a
broader approach to improving teaching and learning."
Angelo, T.A., 1991. Ten easy pieces: Assessing higher learning in four
dimensions. In Classroom research: Early lessons from success.
New directions in teaching and learning (#46), Summer, 17-31.
Southern Illinois University’s Undergraduate Assessment and Program
Review website provides a definition of Classroom Assessment Techniques
(CATs), popularized by authors Angelo and Cross [Angelo, T.A. & Cross,
K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques, a handbook for
college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]
This site explores the difference between assessment and grades and the
seven principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. It
also contains sample forms for various CATs including Directed Paraphrasing,
Goals Ranking and Matching, Muddiest Point, Minute Paper, Self-Assessment,
Self-Confidence Survey, and RSQC2. In addition, it includes
the Teaching Goals Inventory, a self-assessment instrument for instructors
to use to analyze course goals so that they can select the appropriate
CATs for their course. suggestions for using anonymous assessments.
An overview of Classroom Assessment Techniques is provided along with
the characteristics of CATs, assumptions, how to begin, and suggestions
The same site discusses five specific CATs from the Angelo and Cross book
with step-by-step procedures for administration: Background Knowledge
Probe, Minute Paper, Muddiest Point, One-Sentence Summary, and What’s
The benefits of CATs are described and strategies for use are presented
along with descriptions of the Minute Paper, Muddiest Point, and the One-Sentence
Summary in this webpage produced by the Center for Support of Teaching
and Learning at Syracuse University.
Section 4: Collecting Feedback That
Improves Teaching and Learning
Authors Diane M. Emerson, Kathryn M. Plank, and R.
Neill Johnson offer “A Sampler of Effective Practices” for
obtaining effective student feedback. These techniques have been
tried and tested in Penn State University classrooms. The authors
have found that feedback instruments are most useful when used early in
the semester. The instruments include the following:
- Teacher Designed/Scored Questionnaires. Samples: A Guided Self-analysis
for Beginning Instructors, Midsemester Student Feedback Questionnaire,
and Student Perceptions of Learning and Teaching (W.J. McKeachie, University
- Classroom Assessment Techniques. Samples: Recommendations
for Use, Brief Overview of Techniques, The Minute Paper
- Machine-Scanned Questionnaires
The same website also offers an in-depth look at this topic in Chapter
5 of The Penn State Teacher II http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/pdf/PennStateTeacherII.pdf
According to Wiggins (1993), performance assessments
are developed to "test" the ability of students to demonstrate their knowledge
and skills (what they know and can do) in a variety of "realistic" situations
and contexts. Sowell (1996) states that performance assessments can be
short or extended open-ended or multiple choice questions. In a more extended
definition, performance assessments can be reading or writing, projects,
processes, problem solving, analytical tasks, or other tasks which allow
the student to demonstrate their ability to meet specified outcomes and
Section 6: Portfolios
Stiehl, R. & Bessey, B. (1993). The green thumb myth: managing
learning in high performance organizations. The Learning Organization.
"What is to be made of the distinction between performance and authentic
assessments? Fortier (1993) notes that authenticity is always a relative
concept and that it is unrealistic to expect that an assessment will be
completely authentic. For example, he points out that a driving test,
even though most would define it as authentic when compared with a paper
and pencil test, can never be completely such because drivers do not ordinarily
have a law officer seated next to them while they drive." Excerpt from
an excellent article on Performance Assessment that was prepared
by Russ Allen, research consultant in the Wisconsin Education Association
Council's Instruction and Professional Development Division. Although
targeted at secondary educators, the article offers well-documented practices
for developing performance criteria and tasks.
A portfolio is a systematic collection of a variety
of teacher observations and student products, collected over time, that
reflect a student's developmental status and progress made in a particular
course or field of study. Helen Barrett’s website, “Using
Technology to Support Alternative Assessment and Electronic Portfolios”
provides a fantastic overview—including tutorials and articles—on
creating and using standards-based electronic portfolios.
“Self-assessment in Portfolios” describes how students can
turn their writing notebooks into portfolios. The author provides
a series of questions for students to answer after each composition.
The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction links to articles
about the use of specific forms of authentic assessment: portfolios, scoring
rubrics, webfolios, and the use of portfolios in specific disciplines.
Francine Peterman has developed a great portfolio planning worksheet that
walks you step-by-step through the process.
Section 7: Testing
This website, from the University of Tennessee at
Chattanooga’s Teaching Resource Center, presents the uses, advantages,
disadvantages, and tips for writing the following types of test questions:
true/false, matching, multiple choice, short answer, essay, student portfolios,
and performance exams.
Click here for the link.
This site, presented by the University of Oregon’s Teaching Effectiveness
Center, addresses the topic: “Writing Multiple Choice Questions
that Demand Critical Thinking.” The author presents important
things to consider when designing questions, a discussion of Bloom’s
Taxonomy, several practical suggestions, techniques for creating questions,
and a bibliography.
The website of the Teaching Support Services center at the University
of Guelph in Ontario offers links to resources on:
- Quizzes, Tests, and Exams
- Effective Grading
- Grading Practices
The University of Washington’s Faculty Resource on Grading includes
a module by the National Council on Measurement in Education on “Developing
a Personal Grading Plan” that walks you through many of the issues
involved in determining the fairness and defensibility of your grading
The University of Oklahoma’s Instructional Development Program has
a helpful website on test construction. http://www.ou.edu/idp/tips/ideas/quick10.html