Assess students



Assignments are tasks that require student engagement and a final tangible product. They are one of the most common ways to assess student learning. The type and number of assignments you will design depends on your course learning objectives and teaching goals.

Types of assignments

There are various types of assignments that are used to achieve different purposes:

View assignment types by purpose

Suggested uses of assignments:

Strengths of assignments:

Limitations of assignments:

Resource requirements

Knowledge about developing course learning objectives and constructing the various types of assignments is required. You should also understand how to use and interpret scoring rubrics and have a system for managing student products.

Plan your assignment

STEP 1. Understand the learning context

Consider the subject area, course content, class resources, and how the instructional setting and larger educational context impacts the learning course. Make sure to take into account the characteristics of the students such as demographics, skill level, and expectations of the course.

STEP 2. Identify needs and develop course learning objectives

Course learning objectives, shaped by what is most essential for students to know, your needs, and any instructional priorities, specify what you want students to learn from the course. For example, "The students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of “Erikson’s Psychological Stages of Development by naming the eight stages in order and describing the psychological crises at each stage.” [more]

STEP 3. Determine the purpose of the assignment

Use the course learning objectives to guide the content and purpose of assignments. Specify the purpose of the assignment, and how you will measure success.

STEP 4. Determine how you will use the results

How the results will be applied are the underlying goals of your assignments. Consider whether you intend to use results for a formative assessment or summative assessment. Also, consider how much assignment scores will count toward the course grades.

STEP 5. Plan the assignment

Identify course goals and learning objectives

Individual assignments should be linked to course goals and specific learning objectives. The type of assignment you give should be based on what you intend students to learn. [more]

View assignment types by purpose

Determine the assignment format

After determining they type of assignment(s) you want students to complete, develop the specific details related to its content, requirements, and format. Provide students with as much detail about these issues as possible at the time you make the assignment. Be sure to include a final due date and, for more involved assignments like projects and research papers, due dates for drafts or other important assignment milestones.

Develop a rubric to evaluate the assignment

You should develop clear guidelines for evaluating assignments and provide them to students when you first explain the assignment. [more]

Additional information

Davis, B. G. 1993. Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

McKeachie, W. J. & Svinicki, M. 2006. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers.College teaching series, 12 th ed. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

Walvooord, B. E. & Anderson, V. J. 1998. Effective Grading: A tool for learning and assessment. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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