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Course Assessment Toolkit

Course-level assessment is a process of systematically examining and refining the fit between the course activities and what students should know at the end of the course. It involves both formative and summative assessment of student learning. The most effective course assessment is done throughout the semester, provides opportunities for low-stakes, formative assessment, and is based in authentic demonstrations of a students' learning. The key to effective course assessment is establishing course learning outcomes and developing course assessments that will provide evidence of achievement  (Angelo & Cross, 1993).

This toolkit provides help with developing course learning outcomes and thinking through the type of assessment you want to conduct and how to develop effective assessments.

How do I develop course learning outcomes?

Developing course learning outcomes comes down to thinking through the big ideas you want students to learn from your course. It's important to think about the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions you want students to leave class with and be able to use later. It is also important to think about what knowledge and skills students need in the next course in your program to ensure their continued success in the major.

For a detailed process to develop course learning outcomes download the Developing Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes Workbook.

What kind of assessment should you conduct in class?

There are two types of assessment - formative and summative. Formative assessment is done early and often in a course to track student learning over time. Formative assessments are low-stakes assessments that won't harm a student's grade but will keep them engaged in course content. They help students identify strengths and areas for improvement in their own learning while also providing faculty with information about how students are grasping content, allowing instructors to adjust a course as needed. 

How can I determine if students can apply course concepts?

Authentic assessments can tell you a lot about students' ability to apply course concepts and think critically about the content. Authentic assessment focuses on application of course knowledge to a new situation using complex, real-world situations that require a student to think about application of knowledge and skills in society rather than just in the classroom. This moves instructors away from multiple choice and memorization, will improve learning, and limit academic dishonesty. 

How do I develop a course assessment?

To develop an assessment you want to think about how a student will demonstrate their understanding of a course concept or demonstrate their skill. Developing an effective Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) takes some thought because you want to be sure that the CAT is assessing what you want it to assess.

For a detailed process to develop classroom assessments download the Developing Classroom Assessment Techniques Workbook and the CAT KIT.

The workbook provides a step-by-step process for developing classroom assessments. The CAT KIT details six assessments and discusses how to develop them for your own needs and how to use the data. Examples of assessments are provided.

How do I align my assessments to my learning outcomes?

Dr. Aaron Haberman explores different summative assessment methods and will help you develop or refine a high stakes summative assessment that directly aligns with one or more of your course-level student learning outcomes.

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, p. 7-11