Assess students

Student assessment process

Student assessment involves data collection from accepted analysis methods in order to monitor, draw conclusions, make recommendations, and improve student learning.  

All types of student assessment should follow a planning, gathering data, and reporting results process consisting of the following steps:



Describe the learning context

Considering the subject area, difficulty, constraints, expected student results, and other characteristics of the course or activity will set the frame of reference for all subsequent planning decisions in a student assessment.  


Identify stakeholders and their needs

Explore your goals as the instructor, the department or university’s objectives, and especially the characteristics and needs of the students in order to clearly determine your assessment purpose and learning objectives of the course or activity.    

STEP 3 Create learning objectives

Identifying clear objectives for the course or activity helps determine how to conduct the assessment. Learning objectives are statements that describe the knowledge, skills, or behaviors students are expected to learn by the end of a course or activity.

STEP 4 Determine how you will use the assessment

Determine whether you will use your assessments to informally monitor student work, provide feedback, document progress, or to formally evaluate student knowledge. Decide how frequently you would like to conduct student assessment. How you use assessments and how frequently you use them will help you determine which assessment method(s) to use.

STEP 5 Create an assessment  plan

The assessment plan is a detailed description of how to implement the assessment, what information to gather, the method(s) to use, the performance criteria for each method used, and a timeline or course schedule indicating when assessment will take place. [more]

Gathering Data

STEP 6 Gather data

Data gathering focuses on the best way to implement the various assessment methods and includes consideration about the processes and methods to assess student learning, performance criteria for each method used, and ethical or grading concerns. [more]

Reporting Results

STEP 7 Analyze data

Data analysis involves grading student responses or work based on the method and the performance criteria set for each assessment.     

STEP 8 Make conclusions


Conclusions are interpretations of the grades that help to explain their significance.   Conclusions could be suggestions, recommendations, or some other form of constructive student feedback.  

STEP 9 Report results

Be sure to share noticeable patterns, suggestions, constructive feedback, and your general impressions with students. [more]

Adapted from the following sources:

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, 12th 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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