Assessment Design

Assessment involves the use of empirical data on student learning to refine programs and improve student learning (Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Allen 2004). Good practices in designing a course might start with thinking about when and how to assess progression of learning (Wiggins, Grant, and McTighe, 1998). When you design an assessment plan, be sure to align it to your student-learning objectives and outcomes for the course.

General Guidelines: 

  • Focus on formative assessment.
  • Make assessments authentic.
  • Avoid punitive grading strategies.
  • Don’t let your grading system design your course.
  • Strive for a design that promotes a culture of learning, not earning.

    For details on these and other guidelines specific to online courses, visit’s 10 Assessment Design Tips for Increasing Online Student Retention, Satisfaction and Learning


    Aligning to Course Objectives

    All assessments should align with the intended course objectives. The development of learning objectives prior to creating activities and assessments will help to ensure they aligned, as long as the learning objectives remain the focus during planning.

    Alternate Authentic Assessment Methods

    Authentic and Traditional Assessment, Indirect and Direct Assessment Techniques, Choosing The Right Assessment Tool, Pro's and Con's of Various Assessment Tools.

    Formative and Summative Assessment

    Formative Assessments, Interim Assessments, and Summative Assessments.

    Developing Multiple Choice Questions

    A multiple choice question (MCQ) is an assessment item consisting of a stem, which poses the question or problem, followed by a list of possible responses, also known as options or alternatives. One of the alternatives will be the correct or best answer, while the others are called distracters, the incorrect or less correct answers.

    Developing Writing Prompts

    Designing strong writing prompts can help to create interest in the topic and to provide students with clear instructions to follow.

    Assessment as Feedback

    Do you sometimes walk out of the classroom wondering if your students had any idea what you were talking about for the past 50 minutes?

    Quick Tips

    Tips for Grading without Utilizing Attendance, Positive encouragement to attend class, Tips for Promoting Attendance, Alternatives to Grading Attendance (or even participation), Beware of Participation Grades.