Figuring out how to assess students can be challenging. There are various considerations, including the timing of assessment, the number of students involved, external constraints (e.g., guidelines of provincial governing bodies), to name a few.
Another consideration is how to align learning outcomes with assessment. Alignment means ensuring there is a direct connection between the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of assessment. For example, if we want to understand students’ understanding of a concept, we might decide that asking students to apply the concept to a case study might provide a more accurate assessment of student learning than asking them to respond to a multiple-choice quiz. On the other hand, to assess knowledge that needs to be memorized in order to provide foundational knowledge for higher level thinking / knowledge application, a multiple-choice test might be the best choice.
The advantages of aligning assessment with learning outcomes include:
- greater accuracy in identifying what students have learnt and the areas in which they need further support
- increased engagement of students in the assessment process
- opportunities to use methods beyond timed exams that are hard to employ fairly in an online environment
- potential for fewer issues relating to academic integrity