Selecting Assessment Methods: What, When and How to Measure

Assessment methods include:

    Essays;
    Short-answer questions;
    Multiple choice questions;
    Multiple-choice (single best answer and extended matching);
    Self-assessment peer assessment;
    Learning portfolios;
    Case studies and projects;
    Structured oral vivas;
    Structured objective practical assessments e.g. OSCE;
    Direct observation of professional, technical or clinical practice;
    Case/record review.

Different assessment methods are appropriate to test different attributes. Multiple Choice Questions can test broadly across the curriculum, and are useful for assessing factual recall, and, potentially, problem solving. Although difficult to write, they have the advantage of high reliability and ease of marking. However, they can cue students to the correct response, and for that reason, other forms of assessment such as Short Answer Questions, or essays, may be preferred. These written assessments are assessing at the “Knows” or “Knows How” level of Miller’s Triangle.

Direct observation of practice should form the basis of judgements of workplace performance. A range of structured workplace assessment tools have been developed in an attempt to make this form of assessment reliable. Widely used methods include the mini clinical evaluation exercise (mini-CEX), direct observation of procedural skills (DOPS), objective stuctured assessment of technical skills (OSATS), and multi-source feedback.

Before choosing methods, ask yourself the following questions:

What is the purpose of the assessment?
What form of assessment will align with the intended learning outcomes?
How will feedback on the assessment be provided to students?
Fiona Kelly talks about using a peer assessment tool with her students:

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