Assessment of Learning
To assess learning, as well as to confirm the effectiveness of our teaching, assessment is a necessary, critical topic. Here are some definitions of terms frequently used in assessment:
Diagnostic Assessment: Primarily used to guide lesson and curriculum planning, diagnostic assessment provides a starting point to identify learners’ individual strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills (Queen's University, n.d.). Examples include pre-class or pre-unit quizzes and more informal surveys of knowledge and skills.
Formative Assessment: Formative assessments generally focus on low-stakes (no/low-point value) feedback, providing immediate, ongoing information on learning in a unit (Queen's University, n.d.). Classroom Assessment Techniques or CATs is a term that refers to specific, quick formative assessment strategies like exit tickets and think-pair-share (Vanderbilt, n.d.).
Summative Assessment: Summative assessments are typically high-stakes (point-based) and evaluate learning at the end of a unit (Queen's University, n.d.). Both forms of assessment are important to instructional planning and the learning process.
Authentic Assessment: An authentic assessment focuses on real-world, relevant situations, requiring efficient and effective application of learned skills and judgment (Indiana University, 2018). Some examples include simulations, project-based learning, or the construction of portfolios that may aid future career opportunities. This term is used in contrast with objective assessments that may feel "throw-away" or without value that transcends a course experience to learners.
Objective Assessment: Generally falling into three categories: true/false, multiple choice, and extended matching types, objective assessment refers to assignments or tests which have clear right or wrong answers (University of South Australia, 2001).
Evaluation of Learning Intervention Impact
In addition to assessing the learning of individuals or groups, we also must evaluate or reflect upon the efficacy of our learning interventions at a larger level, which sometimes intersects with program-level assessment plans. The Kirkpatrick Model (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 1994) is a popular option for experience evaluation, aiding us in considering four levels of impact:
- participant satisfaction/reaction to learning events,
- participant learning from learning events,
- participant behavioral change from learning events,
- and organizational/programmatic results across time with ongoing reinforcement.
- To see what events we may be offering related to assessment and evaluation, check out our CETL Events Page
- Schedule a time with CETL staff to discuss assessment and evaluation for your course.
Kirkpatrick, D.L., & Kirkpatrick, J.D. (1994). Evaluating Training Programs, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.