Once we have developed our outcomes, we often then think about the activities for learning and then how they might be assessed. It can be helpful to think of this as an iterative or even circular process, rather than a linear one. We determine our outcomes, we think about our activities, we think about assessment, and then we adjust each as we refine the others.

Part of this process is thinking about exactly what we hope a student will gain from an assessment. A single assessment can capture many things. If we assign a graded essay, we may be hoping that a student will:

  • practice creating a certain amount of work (number of pages of an essay, for example), or
  • learn to meet deadlines, or
  • meet a certain standard of quality or disciplinary convention.

If we understand what we value in an assessment, we can focus on it, communicate it clearly to our students, and make sure it meets our intended objectives.

It is also important to notice where we might refine our assessment choice based on the value or values we have identified. For example, we might be hoping that our students know how to take blood in a medical setting. It is important to think through what exactly we mean. Do we want them to demonstrate that they understand the process? If so, a quiz may be the perfect assessment. However, perhaps we want them to demonstrate the ability to do so without error, quickly, and without hurting the patient. In this case, we may need to think about other assessments: a remote demonstration over Zoom, a recorded video demonstration, or even a peer assessment.