Aerial view of Washington Square Park at sunset


When practicing backward design, we encourage thinking about assessments early in the process. Once we have decided what we want our students to know, it is critical that we begin to think about how they will show us that they have learned it. While none of this is a purely one way process, thinking about assessment now will help us refine our objectives and think about how to best present content going forward.

What do I want learners to know or be able to do after they have finished this lesson?
What kinds of tasks or deliver­ables will reveal that students have achieved the objectives?
What kinds of activities will prepare students to demonstrate understanding?
What teaching approaches and materials will help students achieve the objectives?

In rethinking your assessment options, consider the following questions:

  • What do I want students to know and be able to do when they leave this course/lesson? (Learning Objectives)
  • What kinds of tasks/deliverables will reveal whether students have achieved the learning objectives? (Assessments)
  • What kinds of activities (synchronous and asynchronous) will prepare students to demonstrate understanding? (Activities)

This section stresses the importance of considering assessment early in the design process, strategies for assessment variety (synchronous and asynchronous, group and individual, formative and summative), as well as ideas for how to best deliver and collect online assessments. By the end of it, we hope that you’ll be comfortable thinking about using a wide variety of assessments with a focused purpose.

Rows and columns in a rubric formation
Our assessment guides refer frequently to rubrics, a useful tool for both online and in-person assessment. See here for further info on rubric use and construction.