After you have formulated your learning objectives and expectations about what students need to know and be able to do at the end of the course, you can get started on how you will assess the learning objectives. You determine the assessment methods and look at what learning activities are appropriate to achieve the learning objectives.
To determine the basic design of the assessment in a course, you can ask yourself a couple of questions:
- What is the function of the assessment (formative versus summative) in this course?
- What am I going to assess (content and level)?
- Who am I going to assess (group or individual)?
- When will I assess (frequency and moment)?
- Who will give the assessment (lecturer, student or fellow student)?
- How will I assess (assessment method)?
- How will I organise the different steps in the assessment process (organisation)?
After the general assessment design of the entire course, you will make a design per assessment method within the course. In this assessment design there you will, besides the assessment itself, pay attention to the planning, construction of the questions, putting the assessment together, the review, the revision process and the prevention of measurement errors.
Functions of an assessment
An assessment can serve different goals and functions:
- As a selection tool for admission (summative).
- As qualification to determine a level (summative).
- As a learning tool to guide the learning process (formative).
- As a progression check to adjust the learning process (formative).
- As an instrument to (intermediately) adjust your education (evaluative).
An assessment with a summative function is about making a decision. A student can get into a study programme or course or successfully complete a course or study programme. The final mark of a summative assessment is in the form of a grade or another judgement, such as: insufficient/sufficient/good/excellent or fulfilled/not fulfilled. In the case of a sufficient grade or a fulfillment, the student will receive EC or a diploma. In other words: the assessment has a certain consequence.
An assessment with a formative function only gives the students feedback on their progression and shows what the student still needs to do to reach the final level. This way, as a lecturer, you can adjust and students can adjust their learning process. Every assessment with a summative function does in one way or another also serve a formative function. After all, you want to inform the student about their development after doing the assessment.
An assessment with an evaluative function gives you as a lecturer a view of the learning process of students within the course with the goal to adjust the education. The result of the assessment of students gives the lecturer information to adjust their education.
Determining the content and level of an assessment
To determine what you are going to assess and at which cognitive or action level, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy and/or Miller’s pyramid. These models help you to make explicitly clear what (or which) level or skill of students you want to assess