What Are Some Types of Assessment

In the early theories of learning, it was believed that complex higher-order thinking skills were acquired in small pieces, breaking down learning into a series of prerequisite skills. After these pieces were memorized, the learner would be able to assemble them into complex understanding and insight — the puzzle could be arranged to form a coherent picture.

Today, we know learning requires that the learner engage in problem-solving to actively build mental models. Knowledge is attained not just by receiving information, but also by interpreting the information and relating it to the learner’s knowledge base. What is important, and therefore should be assessed, is the learner’s ability to organize, structure, and use information in context to solve complex problems.

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment, often called authentic, comprehensive, or performance assessment, is usually designed by the teacher to gauge students’ understanding of material. Examples of these measurements are open-ended questions, written compositions, oral presentations, projects, experiments, and portfolios of student work. Alternative assessments are designed so that the content of the assessment matches the content of the instruction.

Effective assessments give students feedback on how well they understand the information and on what they need to improve, while helping teachers better design instruction. Assessment becomes even more relevant when students become involved in their own assessment. Students taking an active role in developing the scoring criteria, self-evaluation, and goal setting, more readily accept that the assessment is adequately measuring their learning.

Authentic assessment can include many of the following:

  • Observation
  • Essays
  • Interviews
  • Performance tasks
  • Exhibitions and demonstrations
  • Portfolios
  • Journals
  • Teacher-created tests
  • Rubrics
  • Self- and peer-evaluation