How We Assess

Assessment is considered an integral and ongoing part of the teaching and learning process. Assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. Assessment addresses the content, process, and product involved in meeting a standard. As your instructional approach includes more contextual teaching strategies, your assessment strategies should expand to include those that support active and collaborative learning.

Good Assessment Design

  • Begin with the end in mind – your learning objectives for students (Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design)
  • Design instruction and evaluation at the same time – this is important when developing multi-activity lessons and projects
  • Ask not only “What information will I get from this?” (i.e., grades for the gradebook; prediction of performance on standardized tests) but also “How will this provide a learning opportunity for students?”
  • Design active assessments for active learning
  • Be precise—no surprises
  • Create a feedback loop—discuss expectations (and progress) regularly
  • Communicate in writing (e.g. syllabus, learning contract, rubric with detailed performance measures)
  • Provide opportunities for learners to reflect on and analyze their performance

Assessment Strategies
CORD, 2016

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment aims to evaluate students’ abilities in ‘real-world’ contexts. In other words, students learn how to apply their skills to authentic tasks and projects. Authentic assessment does not encourage rote learning and passive test-taking. Instead, it focuses on students’ analytical skills; ability to integrate what they learn; creativity; ability to work collaboratively; and written and oral expression skills. It values the learning process as much as the finished product.


Rubrics are a valuable teaching and learning tool. Providing a rubric at the beginning of a learning experience enables learners to clearly understand performance expectations. As a result, learners are better able to take charge of, and responsibility for their learning.

For an instructor, rubrics clarify the relationship between the learning experience and the expected outcomes. A rubric specifies criteria along a continuum. It is intended as a guide for the student who can then monitor progress along this continuum in light of the criteria.

Developing a Rubric
CORD, 2016

>>Additional resources on assessment can be found in the NC-NET Adjunct Faculty Toolkit.