Assessing assessment

I have been thinking recently about effective assessment and how learning technologies can help. I find it useful to ask myself the following questions:
  • What exactly am I trying to assess?
  • What is the best method to assess what I want to assess?
  • What is the threshold level of knowledge and skills that students should have to meet the module aims and progress?

Similar questions have been asked in this useful article.
When reviewing current types of assessment, I believe we should be asking ourselves, forst and foremost, what exactly we want to change, and why we want to change it. In other words, we start with identifying the problem with current types of assessment (in line with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule). Then we can start thinking how learning technologies can help, for example:
  • Current assessment takes too long to mark: think about using rubrics or audio feedback in Turnitin. Consider using tests with a combination of multiple choice and open ended questions.
  • The results are poor: think about shifting the focus from summative assessment to formative assessment: incorporate formative assessment in your syllabus. Use tools like Poll Everywhere to get immediate feedback. Get students into a habit of working systematically by setting manageable tasks – consider the flipped lecture approach. Use peer and self-assessment – get students to mark their own work using the assessment criteria you are going to use and justify why they shouldn’t fail. Consider the form of the assessment: if level 4 students struggle with academic essay, maybe ask them to produce a text belonging to a genre they are more familiar with: a press article, a blog post for layman audience etc. Make sure assessment is related to the real life: ask them to produce what they will be expected to produce in professional life.
  • Attendance is poor: consider the flipped lecture approach. Or start the lecture with a quick Poll Everywhere quiz to make sure students are on top of their game and understand enough from the previous lecture to be able to proceed to more advanced content. Engage with them – foster interaction, provide immediate feedback to minimise the risk of students becoming discouraged and falling behind. Use classroom time to check understanding rather than to lecture.


There are numerous resources online on designing effective assessment.