Principles of Assessment Design
In developing the assessment tasks for your course, you should consider the following principles of assessment design:
Principle 1 – An assessment should be valid and reliable
- Assessments need to be valid in order to ensure that the assessment tasks effectively measure what it is intended to measure (i.e. attainment of the learning outcomes).
- Furthermore, reliability (the reproducibility of scores of an assessment is the pre-requisite to validity) is achieved by ensuring consistent assessment processes.
- Consider the use of objective assessment items (e.g. high-quality multiple-choice questions) or the use of clear marking and grading criteria and multiple trained markers and moderators for subjective assessments (e.g. essays, short answer questions).
Principle 2 – All information about assessment should be explicit, accessible and transparent
- Students and faculty alike should have access to clear, accurate, consistent and timely information on assessment tasks and procedures.
- Assessment design should explicitly address the ways in which assessment literacy will be developed – i.e. an understanding of the process by which academic judgements are made. As Sadler (1989) states, in order for students to develop and improve the quality of their work, opportunities for monitoring and evaluation should be incorporated into the assessment task(s).
- Consider the use of formative assessments or the use of Turnitin for development purposes in essay-based assignments. You could also provide exemplars or develop clear rubrics in order to facilitate clear transparent assessment practices.
Principle 3 – Assessment tasks should be meaningful
- Given that assessment drives learning, assessments should build upon direct authentic assessments that are relevant to the course or program. This also helps against academic honesty concerns that may arise with low cognitive skill assessments.
- In addition to business skills, also consider assessing a variety of other skills such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, reflective practice, problem solving and ethical reasoning.
Principle 4 – Assessment tasks should be manageable
- Assessment burden can be high for both staff and students. Therefore, managing work load is extremely important, in terms of quantity, quality and timing in order to provide a valid and reliable profile of achievement.
- Consider the activity of mapping your assessment to ILO’s as this will help guide instructors to consider the level at which assessment tasks are set.
Principle 5 – An assessment should always aim to be inclusive and equitable
- Any assessment task should be fair to all students. As far as is possible without compromising academic standards, inclusive and equitable assessment should ensure that tasks and procedures do not disadvantage any group or individual.
- Consider a diverse assessment strategy with various and appropriate modes of assessment in order to avoid inequalities between students.
- These can include alternative assessments such as essays, oral exams, group work, individual or team presentations, case study analysis, dissertations, reports, portfolios, capstone projects or traditional assessments such as written exams and multiple choice tests.
Principle 6 – A combination of both formative and summative assessment should be encapsulated in every course/program
- Formative assessment (assessment for learning) provides a developmental opportunity for students to gauge their strengths and weaknesses without the pressure of a high-stakes assessment. It also helps prepare students for summative assessment.
- Summative assessment (assessment of learning) aims to measure the student’s success in meeting the standards set by the assessment, which ultimately is based on the intended learning outcomes.
- Consider a balance between both forms of assessment during your design process.
Principle 7 – Assessment should always be followed by timely feedback to promote learning and facilitate improvement.
- High-quality and meaningful feedback should always accompany any form of assessment if we are to engage learners in reflective practice.
- Consider the nature, extent and timing of feedback for your assessment and ensure that students know when to expect feedback.
Assessment Design Steps
Once you have familiarized yourself with the principles of assessment design, consider the following steps to aid in your design process for selecting the right assessment method for the right context. Review the Teaching and Learning post, Assessment Design in the Online Classroom, for some examples and considerations when redesigning your assessments for the online environment.
Assessment design is an iterative process, and you may need to engage through the following steps more than once in order to refine your assessment.
Step 1: Consider the context of assessment within the overall program
Step 2: Ensure your learning outcomes are assessable
Step 3: Choose the best method to assess your learning outcomes
Step 4: Consider amount, workload and timing of assessment
Step 5: Ensure you incorporate multiple opportunities for development through feedback
Step 6: Create buy-in from students by building assessment literacy
Step 7: Evaluate your assessment strategy and modify as needed