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Writing Effective Assessment Criteria

Below is an activity instructors can engage in to write their own assessment criteria. It is a higher learning process with no "right" answer.

Assessment criteria are descriptive statements that enable instructors and learners to fairly measure the achievement of specific learning outcomes. To help instructors to develop their own assessment criteria, the following steps could be used:

  1. Briefly summarize the characteristics of an effective learning outcome
  2. Write out a learning outcome that will be used
  3. Analyze the verbs used in the learning outcome
  4. Check on the verb lists below and determine at what "level" of learning the verbs are situated. In other words, at what hierarchical level is the outcome? This is the information required to determine the 'level' at which level learners are engaged in learning activities and also for consequent assessments of their learning. It also helps instructors to be intentional in structuring learning and assessment opportunities.
  5. When an assignment is developed for learners, it is helpful to imagine that what an ideal assignment would look like.
  6. Reflect on ways to measure that the outcome had been successfully achieved by asking a series of questions:
    • What characterizes an "ideal" assignment'?
    • What would the assignment/project look like (presentation/organization/level of writing)?
    • What elements would it necessarily contain?
    • What thinking processes would be evident in the work?
    • What additional elements make it "ideal" rather than just acceptable?
  7. Use the above information to craft a sentence or two that describe this ideal work. This is the first-class assessment criterion.
  8. Following a similar process, craft an assessment criterion that describes a "B" assignment/project handed in for the same learning outcome.
  9. Similarly, craft criteria for the next levels down.
  10. Review the work, and ask if a colleague with similar competence were to receive the same paper, would he/she assign the same grade to the work?
  11. Would a learner feel that the assessment was fair?
  12. Revise the above process to reflect the steps that were engaged in that this process does not capture.