The following is from a lecture on assessments by Amanda Gunning of Teachers College, Columbia University.

In order to create a great assessment, choose your Bloom’s Taxonomy words that you are interested in assessing and create your assessment appropriately.

Assessment Needs To Be:

  • Applied to all students in a fair way
  • Clear; make your expectations transparent
  • Public
  • Easy to apply – something you can reasonably apply, assess, and return as soon as possible
  • Straightforward
  • Minimal subjectivity (unless desired)
  • Understood BEFORE the start of the task

NOTE: When handing back test grades, it is always helpful to give a hi, low, and/or average test score across the class as well as the other sections of that class.

Informal Assessments:

  • Response Cards or Clickers: ask questions and have students respond by holding up the appropriate card. Some examples would be colors (green = I understand, red = I am confused) or numbers/letters for multiple choice questions
  • Calling Out All At Once – gets kids all involved without being intimidating
  • Raising Hands
  • Visiting Groups
  • Quick Group Reports
  • Present Answers on the Board
  • Mini white/chalk boards – you can buy shower stall walls at Home Depot and cut it to size for cheap white boards or white paper in page protectors with dry erase markers
  • Discussion

Formal Assessments:

  • Work to hand in
  • Tests (individual, partners, or groups)
  • Projects
  • Portfolios
  • Presentations
  • Reflections
  • Lab Report

Things to Consider:

  • Appropriate for the material addressed/classroom experience.
  • It will take the kids 2 to 3 times as long to complete an assessment as it would take you
  • Ability of students to be successful.
  • Assessment Time v. Instructional Time – every time you have a test or other assessment, you are sacrificing instructional time.
  • Useful for student practice – is a multiple choice test always the best way to assess? What do students need to know upon leaving your class? It might be most important for students to develop presentation skills, etc. and not develop test taking skills.

NOTE: If you are using the same assessment every year, be sure to check it over before teaching the material so you don’t test the kids on something you never taught!


  • Fosters success
  • Helps the teacher be objective
  • Puts students in control – grading is transparent
  • Need to be explained
  • Need to be used – if you make a rubric, USE IT!
  • Need to be practiced so students understand and make the most of the rubric

Uses for Rubrics:

  • Everyday behavior – e.g. rubric for free body diagrams in Physics
  • Lab – experiment and/or report
  • Homework
  • Etc.

Types of Rubrics:

  • Holistic – Quick, looks at a single dimension of a student’s skill or ability
  • Analytical – The most common type of rubric

One response to this post.

  1. Great post! I like the mention of formal and informal assessments. As educators we often overlook that.


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