Assessing learning

These resources range from general introductory information about assessment approaches, to themed resources addressing the assessment of writing, exams, and group work.


General Resources

  1. **Classroom Assessment Techniques: A handbook for college teachers (book). T.A. Angelo and P.T. Cross (1993). This book provides advice on multiple aspects of classroom assessments, from definitions to development to implementation, with the aid of case studies and examples to illustrate how it can work. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

  2. 9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning (pdf). A. Astin et al. (1996). This resource offers nine best practice principles for assessing learning, from the importance of ongoing assessment to situating assessment within a larger change context. AAHE Assessment forum: 9 principles of good practice for assessing student learning.

  3. The concept of formative assessment (webpage). C. Boston (2002). Offers a short introduction to formative assessment, including its purpose, benefits, some examples, and resources for those interested in implementing formative assessment techniques. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(9).

  4. How to create and use rubrics for formative assessment and grading (book). S. M. Brookhart (2013). This book provides clear instructions for developing rubrics, addresses common misconceptions, explains differences between rubrics and other assessment tools, and shares how to use rubrics for formative and summative purposes. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

  5. An Assessment Manifesto (webpage). S. Brown et al. (1996). A short 10 item manifesto on the values these educators hold related to assessment. 500 Tips on Assessment. Kogan Page.

  6. The art of evaluation: A handbook for educators and trainers (book). T. Fenwick, T. and J. Parsons (2000). This book targets educators and prospective educators who are concerned about the critical role of evaluation in the learning process and want to know how to improve their own assessment approaches and enable learners to assume active, meaningful roles in evaluating their own learning. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.

  7. "Developing a Grading Plan" (webpage). D. Frisbie and K. Waltman, University of Iowa. Identifies issues which should be addressed and questions which must be answered in the process of developing a grading scheme. Various grading methods are discussed.

  8. "Grading Practices" (webpage). Barbara Gross Davis; Jossey-Bass (1993). From Tools for Teaching this page provides an overview of the purpose for grading students and best practices.

  9. Employing formative assessment in the classroom (article). Harris, L. (2007). This article re-examines the techniques of formative assessment that can progress student learning and appeals to teachers to review their practice against the background of the research. Improving Schools, 10(3), 249-260.

  10. Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback (pdf). Juwah, C., Macfarlane-Dick, D., Matthew, B., Nicol, D., Ross, D., & Smith, B. (2004).  This resource was developed to help interested practitioners improve their feedback practice to students as well as to provide new ideas on how to enhance their current practice. New York: HEA.

  11. Guidelines for assessment of experiential learning (pdf). McGill University Teaching and Learning Services (2014). This guide provides an introduction to experiential learning, summarizes several strategies for assessing experiential learning, and offers case studies with potential in-class applications.

  12. Universal Design and the assessment of student learning in higher education: Promoting thoughtful assessment (pdf). Ofiesh, N. S., Rojas, C. M., & Ward, Robin A. (2006). This article provides a brief review of current assessment practice in postsecondary settings, and explains how universally designed assessments can help to promote a more accurate representation of student learning. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 19(2), pp. 173-181.

  13. The Art of Assessment (webpage). P. Race (1995). A comprehensive overview of assessment that discusses the advantages and limitations of the various forms of assessment. New Academic 4(3), reprinted with permission.

  14. Using feedback to help students to learn (pdf). Race (2002). Explains tactics for providing constructive criticism and due praise to student’s in order to encourage and stimulate their work. Explores multiple media for feedback transmission. (2002).

  15. Universal Design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). This article reflects on potential applications of universal design for learning (UDL) in university courses.

  16. Rubric Gallery (website). RCampus (2011). This website offers a wide variety of rubrics across different disciplines. Through the Public Gallery link, rubrics may be selected based on discipline, grade level or assessment type.

  17.  **The impact of assessment on student learning: How can the research literature practically help to inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centered assessment practices? Rust, C. (2002). This article reviews what the research literature says about the impact of assessment on students’ learning. It then provides practical suggestions for development of appropriate assessment strategies and learner-centered assessment practices. Active Learning in Higher Education 3.

  18. Alternatives to Traditional Testing. University of Berkeley, California: Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.) This page provides reasonable alternatives to traditional tests that may provide more authentic student assessment.

  19. Effective Grading: A tool for learning and assessment in college (book). B. E. Walvoord and V. J. Anderson. (1998). The book offers a hands-on guide for evaluating student work and examines the link between teaching and grading. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  20. Embedded formative assessment (book). D. Wiliam (2011). This book argues the importance of formative assessment in the classroom to help increase teacher quality and student learning. Bloomington, Indiana: Solution Tree Press.

Writing Assignments

  1. Solving a Teaching Problem - Students lack discipline-specific writing skills. Carnegie Mellon University, Eberly Center (2016). This page provides strategies instructors can use to support their students with writing in their specific discipline.

  2. Engaging ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom (book). J. Bean (2011). This book articulates the connections between critical thinking and writing, and proposes research-based strategies for designing problem-based assignments, coaching students in their learning, and advice for reading, commenting on, and grading student writing. It includes a 14-page guide to the book for busy professors. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  3. The One-Minute Paper (webpage) by Joe Cuseo from Marymount College.  This resource describes the multiple advantages and efficiencies of employing the one-minute paper in higher education. On Course Workshop. (n.d.).

  4. They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (book). Graff , G., Birkenstein, C., & Durst, R. (2010). (2nd ed.). This book helps to ‘demystify’ academic writing, teaching students to frame their arguments in the larger context of what else has been said about their topic - and providing templates to help them make the key rhetorical moves. New York: Norton. McGill Library.

  5.  **Five strategies to improve writing in your courses (webpage). Roger Graves. This article summarizes five key points from John Bean’s book Engaging Ideas. It encourages instructors to identify assignment genres, explain how writing will be evaluated, provide opportunities for revision, incorporate low-stakes assignments, and learn about the campus writing centre’s services.

  6. Responding to Student Writing. Harvard Writing Project Brief Guide Series. Harvard College Writing Program, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. This post provides principles and suggestions to responding to student writing.

  7. Responding to Student Papers Effectively and Efficiently. Procter, M. (n.d.). Writing Support, University of Toronto. This article provides guidelines to respond to student papers that are based on research studies of students' attitudes to grading and teacher commentary. TAs.

  8. Writing beyond writing classes (pdf). Hesse, D. (2010). This resource is designed to give practical help regarding student writing to professors across the full range of disciplines. Resources for University of Denver faculty.

Exams (including Multiple Choice)

  1. How to prepare better multiple-choice test items: Guidelines for university faculty (pdf). Burton, S., J., Sudweeks, R., R., Merrill, P., F., & Wood, B. (1991). This article provides a thorough overview of the topic. Retrieved from Brigham Young University Testing Centre Web site.

  2. A review of multiple-choice item-writing guidelines for classroom assessment (pdf). Haladyna T., M., Downing, S., M., & Rodriguez, M., C. (2002).  In this paper a taxonomy of 31 multiple-choice item-writing guidelines was validated through a logical process. Research on multiple-choice item writing is discussed both from substantive and methodological viewpoints. Applied Measurement in Education, 15, pp. 309-334.

  3. Multiple choice exam theory (just in time for the new term) (Web log comment). Sterne, J. (2013). This blog post is written by Jonathan Sterne, an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill. He presents a fresh take on developing multiple-choice questions that go beyond recognition for use in large lectures.

  4. Learning and assessing with multiple choice questions in college classrooms (book). J. Parkes and D. Zimmaro (2016). "Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) are a ubiquitous tool used in college classrooms, yet most instructors admit that they are not prepared to maximize the question's benefits. Learning and Assessing with Multiple-Choice Questions in College Classrooms is a comprehensive resource designed to enable instructors and their students to enhance student learning through the use of MCQs" (from publisher).

  5. Designing multiple-choice questions.  Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. (n.d.). The following website provides suggestions for designing MCQs, it is organized into three sections: 1) general strategies, 2) designing stems, and 3) designing alternatives.

Group Work

  1. Assessing Group Work (pdf) by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education. A comprehensive discussion of issues related to assessing students' group work, addressing common questions and concerns and providing specific guidelines for instructors.

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