Five assesment best practices

There are many guidelines and “best practices” for assessment available.  The following list is adapted from many sources, including the University of Strathclydethe University of DundeeBrown University, and more.

1. Use assessment for learning

Design the assessment to engage students in the process of learning rather than simply producing a final product.  Include low-stakes formative assessment, and provide students the opportunity to reflect on and learn from those experiences.

2. Align assessment with the course

Give students the opportunity to practice the skills they need for each assessment in advance.  Clearly explain the learning goals, the assessment criteria, and the assessment task with students, and ensure the assessment is aligned with the course.  Students should have a clear understanding of what to expect with high-stakes summative assessments.  (This is covered more fully in the Constructive Alignment section.)

3. Use assessment throughout the course

Provide spaced assessed tasks to enable students to allocate sufficient time to study over a suitable time period and avoid “cramming.” Design frequent tasks rather than one end of course assessment (or build in steps).

4. Provide sufficient, timely, and detailed feedback

Appropriate feedback is one of the most significant influencers on student achievement, and the majority of feedback we provide students is typically through assessment.  To make assessment feedback effective

  • Align feedback with the learning goals of the assignment and the assessment criteria.
  • Focus your feedback on student performance, learning, or actions the student can control.
  • Provide regular opportunities for students to receive feedback, and deliver the feedback as soon as possible after the assessment.
  • Give feedback while it matters to the student and can be used to improve future performance.  This also means the feedback needs to be delivered in a way the student will notice and pay attention to.

5. Design and administer assessments with equity in mind

All students should have equal opportunity on each assessment, regardless of location, timezone, computer hardware, personal work environment, etc.  This may mean making allowances for some students.


For more information, consider the following:

Previous (Assessment Basics) Next (Online Assessment Basics)