Choosing the best assessment tool

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Choosing the best assessment tool

When planning the assessment strategy for your course, your thoughts may first turn to the ‘traditional’ forms of assessment such as essay questions and written examinations. In fact, a wider range of assessment tools are available which, used judicially, can maximize the effectiveness of your assessment. 

Different assessment tools are better suited to different skills and learning outcomes. When preparing your assessment, first go back to the action verbs of the course learning outcomes and consider the skills that need to be assessed. You can then match the outcomes with appropriate assessment tools. For example, an authentic task might be a suitable choice of assessment for a learning outcome centred on performing procedures, while an oral presentation is ideal for assessing communication skills. 

Common assessment tools

Group projects can assess not only research skills but also students’ ability to collaborate as a team, while reflective journals and e-portfolios assess students’ ability to reflect on their learning. You might choose to set a written task to assess students’ critical thinking skills, though these could also be assessed in other ways, such as the Q&A section of an oral presentation. By familiarizing yourself with the strengths of different assessment tools, you can plan an assessment mix which is well-suited to your course learning outcomes. Finally, bear in mind that individual students may shine in different types of assessment — so include a variety.