Most people think of tests and exams that evaluate student learning as primary examples
of assessment, but those are examples of assessment of learning. Assessment for
learning, also known as classroom assessment, is different.
It is not used to evaluate learning but to help learners learn better. It does so by helping
both students and teachers to see:
• the learning goals and criteria
• where each learner is in relation to the goals
• where they need to go next
• and ways to get there
Many studies have been done over the years to gauge the effectiveness of assessment for
learning, and a review of this research in 1998 by Black and Wiliam found that
assessment for learning is one of the most powerful ways to improve learning, especially
among students who find learning to be more challenging.
This is exciting for educators!
By applying the principles and techniques of assessment for learning, we can help
students learn better now and achieve more in all areas of their educational experience.
In addition, assessment for learning is based upon an understanding of student motivation
and the psychology of learning, so students become better learners for the rest of their
lives as a result of their successful learning experiences.
Assessment for learning makes a difference for students, and from what we have seen, it
also results in a more satisfying and enjoyable experience for teachers. Educators become
more aware of how students learn and become more engaged with students in the
learning process, helping them to set goals and criteria, evaluate their progress, and
experience the many small "wins" that lead to them reaching their goals.
New classroom assessment techniques are developed so that teachers can be more
methodical and systematic in their teaching and see how these methods can be
successfully implemented in the classroom. One can almost believe that the classroom is
the new lab: the learning process is going to be dissected, analyzed, and improved, and
the final product implemented in a proper manner.
A good classroom assessment technique is important and will involve both the teacher
and the students. The student’s learning process is going to be monitored continuously.
The faculty is going to be provided with data and feedback that will show the progress of
the teacher as an effective instructor. The student will be given details about his progress
as a learner.
One of the reasons why classroom assessment techniques are quite popular with
instructors and teachers is because these techniques are created, analyzed, and then
implemented by the teachers themselves. The teachers look into different aspects of
learning as well as teaching, and look at the strong points and weak points in different
classroom assessment techniques. Once they have made up a “blueprint” for a new
experimental technique, they have the opportunity to incorporate it into their own
teaching system and program.
Many good classroom assessment techniques start with a bit of trial and error. The
students are observed closely during the learning process and given frequent
opportunities to offer feedback so that the teachers can get to know more about the
student response to some new and innovative teaching approaches. These techniques can
give the teacher a rough idea about how well, how much, and what their students are
learning. This information is very useful for getting faculty to re-focus and re-plan their
teaching methods so that the learning procedure can become more effective and
Classroom assessment techniques are based on one major point: do not assume. A
teacher who thinks that his students are learning what has been taught to them might be
disappointed when the time comes to grade the papers. That is the reason why the
students and the teachers need to monitor the learning process. This means that the
students should participate in giving accurate feedback on new assessment techniques.
The plan is designed to provide informationabout the extent towhich the University is
accomplishing its goals, particularlywith respect to studentoutcomes. When the plan
presented here is fullyimplemented, we believe that there will bea reasonable basis for
judgingthe extent to which the University is being successful indeveloping itsstudents.
The plan is an essential part of our reports to accreditingagencies,including the Middle
States Association of Colleges and Schools, as wellasvarious disciplinary or professional
associations. More importantly, the information generated should be useful to members
of the University community in improving programs designed to achieve student
Development and implementation of the University's assessment plan reflect the
following general guidelines which have emerged from discussions in the University's
Planning Committee, Assessment Committee, and Academic Policy Council. The
guidelines are not fixed rules but represent general dispositions regarding a variety of
assessment-related issues, particularly as those issues are being discussed in higher
education circles today.
1. The principal, although not exclusive, focus of attention for the assessment plan is
student outcomes. That is, the plan should help to answer the question: What happens to
our students as a result of their experiences at the University of Scranton?
Other University outcomes are of interest in the assessment plan, but only of secondary
interest at this time. Within the next several years, we expect to concentrate our attention
on those aspects of the assessment plan which relate most directly to student outcomes.
Some attention will be devoted to other University goals, even within the next several
years; and after elements of the assessment plan for student outcomes are well
established, additional attention will be devoted to the other goals.
2. Student outcomes should be broadly conceived to include both academic and non-
academic outcomes. Academic outcomes center mainly on the knowledge and skills
developed in the major field of study and on the intended outcomes of general education.
Non-academic outcomes include such matters as the development of character, moral
sensibilities, proclivities towards leadership and volunteer work, etc.
3. The University's mission statement should be a key document in determining what
student outcomes will be addressed. Further, the assessment plan itself should incorporate
mechanisms for continually monitoring the vitality and relevance of the mission
4. A modest plan is desired. The plan is not designed to "measure everything that moves."
The immediate goal is to have an identifiable but modest plan that provides meaningful
feedback to members of the University community. The plan is not are placement for
how instructors evaluate their students, although in some instances elements of the plan
may eventually supplement such evaluation. Experience suggests that elaborate, elegant
structures for assessment usually collapse from their own weight. Inaccord with our
desire for a modest plan, to the extent possible, existing mechanisms or processes will be
used for the collection and analysis of assessment information.
5. The plan should encourage individual units (departments, offices, etc.) within the
University to develop their own assessment activities. Again, experience suggests that the
most effective utilization of assessment information occurs when individual units have a
sense of ownership and participation in how results are used. We want to encourage that
sense of ownership and participation.
For purposes of reporting to external agencies, there is an unfortunate by-product of this
predisposition to decentralize assessment. External agencies often want to know precisely
what assessment is occurring and what effects it has had. To the extent that we are
successful in fostering a very widespread ownership of assessment, it becomes difficult to
answer the question of precisely what is taking place and precisely what its effects are.
We believe that it is worth contending with this difficulty in order to gain the advantages
associated with decentralization.
6. There should be an emphasis on utilization of assessment information for purposes of
improvement. To be sure, much of the information garnered from parts of the assessment
plan can be used in an accountability framework. However, we will, whenever possible,
attempt to aim our assessment efforts at improving the way we go about the University's
business, which is principally to educate students.
7. A major effort will be made to communicate results from the assessment plan to the
University community, again with an eye toward improvement. We do not want to collect
a lot of information which just sits on the shelf. We will try to resist the temptation to
collect more information when currently available information has not been digested or to
create entirely new assessment processes when the current processes need improvement.
Authentic assessment is an umbrella concept that refers to the measurement of
"intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful," as
compared to multiple choice standardized tests. Authentic assessment can be devised by
the teacher, or in collaboration with the student by engaging student voice. When
applying authentic assessment to student learning and achievement, a teacher applies
criteria related to “construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and the value of
achievement beyond the school.”
Authentic assessment reflects educational policy research that recommends a "high
priority on strategies that research has already shown to increase student learning."[citation
Authentic assessment tends to focus on complex or contextualised tasks, enabling
students to demonstrate their competency in a more 'authentic' setting. Examples of
authentic assessments include:
• performance of the skills, or demonstrating use of a particular knowledge
• simulations and role plays
• studio portfolios, strategically selecting items
• exhibitions and displays
Assessment is an ongoing process of setting high expectations for student learning,
measuring progress toward established learning outcomes, and providing a basis for
reflection, discussion and feedback to improve University academic
programs. It is a systematic and cyclic process that makes
expectations and standards explicit and public.