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6 Alternative Forms of Student Assessment

class taking a testIt’s common to be accustomed to using only one type of assessment in your classes. While there’s nothing wrong with having a preferred method, try mixing it up a bit! A variety of assessments is a good thing to have in your “bag of tricks” as a teacher.  Varying how you assess your students can also help students who don’t respond to a particular assessment method – they may not perform well on classical test based assessments for example, but could be brilliant at presenting or writing!

1. Rubrics

In education, rubrics are a defined set of performance standards. Typically rubrics are laid out in a table with one end being the desired outcome (an example of good work) and the other end being less than desirable (an example of poor work). Students are scored based on how they fall on the continuum of expectations. Rubrics can be graded by the teacher or used as a self assessment by the student. They are a very effective and efficient way to score group projects or cooperative learning activities.

2. Writing

Often teachers stay away from writing assessments, especially in large classes since grading can take a lot of time. However, you can use short writing assignments effectively without using too much time by giving your students a prompt that they must respond to before leaving class in order to assess their understanding. Make it creative: they must keep their answer to 140 characters or less or answer in a poem or in only one sentence.

3. Presentations

Assign speaking assignments or presentations periodically. While having each student present may take a considerable amount of time, using this form of assessment is probably more realistic in terms of real world experiences than a multiple choice test. Presentations don’t have to be long, but students do need to be able to speak clearly on a topic, as that is a basic life skill that everyone needs to have.

4. Discussion Boards

Many classes have online components, such as a Learning Management System (LMS), where students can post questions or interact online. Create an assessment around the online tools that you have in place. Require students to post a question and answer a question, or find an article that relates to the topic.

5. Self Assessment

Let students monitor their own progress and understanding. This can be done with checklists, a writing assignment, rubrics or even something simple like a thumbs up or thumbs down. Or, you can require students to give themselves a grade on an assignment or test when they hand it in to get a perception of their own work. Often they are very close to how you grade them!

6. Interviews

Meet briefly with each student to ask a few well planned questions. This can be done as they enter or exit class, during cooperative learning activities or other transition times. Jot down notes based on what each student says and assign a grade on their ability to explain concepts.

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