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The Assessment Toolbox. Linda Suskie Middle States Commission on Higher Education AB Tech February 2005. Today. What is assessment? The assessment toolbox Rubrics (scoring guides) Prompts (assignments) Multiple-choice tests Reflective writing

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The assessment toolbox l.jpg

The Assessment Toolbox

Linda Suskie

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

AB Tech

February 2005

Today l.jpg

  • What is assessment?

  • The assessment toolbox

    • Rubrics (scoring guides)

    • Prompts (assignments)

    • Multiple-choice tests

    • Reflective writing

  • Using assessment results to improve teaching

What is assessment l.jpg
What is Assessment?

  • Deciding what we want our students to learn

  • Making sure they learn it!

    --Jane Wolfson, Director, Environmental Science & Studies Program, Towson University

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The Teaching-Learning-Assessment Cycle

Learning Goals

Using Results

Learning Opportunities


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1. Learning Goals

  • What is a good learning goal?

    • Outcomes – what students should be able to do AFTER they pass the course

    • Observable – action words

    • Clear – no fuzzy terms

    • Skills – thinking, performance

    • Important - meet student/employer needs

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  • A list of things you’re looking forwhen you’re grading tests, papers, or projects

  • Often with guidelines or standardsfor evaluating them

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Rating Scale Rubrics

  • A scale showing the degree to which the things you’re looking for are present.

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Descriptive Rubrics

  • More detailed descriptions of each possible rating.

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Holistic Scoring Guides

  • A single score that reflects an overall impression of performance

  • Scores are defined by

    • descriptions or

    • model answers

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Prompts: Creating Effective Assignments

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Creating Effective Multiple Choice Tests

Start with a test blueprint.

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  • Objective test

  • Stem

  • Alternatives/ responses/ options

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Fast and easy to score

Options can diagnose difficulties


Hard to write

Often requires reading skills


Can’t measure some thinking skills

Multiple Choice

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Use Multiple Choice Items for...

  • Conceptual understanding

  • Application

    • Identify correct application or example

  • Analysis

    • Identify correct cause, effect, or element

    • Identify why something occurs or is best

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Interpretive Exercise

= context-dependent item

= enhanced multiple choice item

One new stimulus (paragraph, chart)

that students must read or examine

to be able to answer all

the objective items that follow

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Reading passage they haven’t seen

Description of lab experiment

Material from historical period (letter, document)

Description of patient’s symptoms

Chart, diagram, drawing

Any scenario (“You are...”)

Examples of Interpretive Material

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Use Interpretive Exercises to...

  • Apply knowledge and understanding to new material or novel situations.

  • Identify correct generalization, inference, or conclusion.

  • Use problem-solving and analysis skills.

  • Prepare for standardized tests.

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Writing Good Multiple Choice Items

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More Ways to Make Multiple Choice Tests Effective

  • Open-book, open-note

  • Throw out items that half your students get wrong.

  • Review only items that many students got wrong.

    • Ask them WHY they got them wrong.

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4. Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching





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Look at your learning goals.

  • Do you have too many goals?

  • Do your goals need to be clarified?

  • Are your goals inappropriate or overly ambitious?

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Look at your curriculum.

  • Including placement and developmental education.

  • Does the curriculum adequately address each learning goal?

  • Look at your teaching methods l.jpg
    Look at your teaching methods.

    • How do students learn best?

    Look at your assessments l.jpg
    Look at your assessments.

    • Are they poorly written and misinterpreted?

    • Do they match your key learning goals?

    • Are they too difficult for most responsible students?

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    Isn’t Poor Performance the Student’s Fault?

    • Sometimes, but usually a minority

    • Suskie’s “50% rule”