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Assessment and Evaluation

A graphic of a checklist with a pencilThough the terms are often used interchangeably, 'assessment' can refer to smaller, lower stakes exercises that can be used to help you and your students gain a sense of how they are doing throughout a course.  These can serve as opportunities to identify areas that may require more attention while there is time to make changes.  'Evaluation' can refer to higher stakes, conclusive 'judgments' of coursework which are used to determine a student's grade in the course. Sometimes, this distinction is referred to using the terms 'formative assessment' and 'summative assessment.'  Formative assessment is also known as 'assessment for learning', while summative assessment is known as 'assessment of learning'.  The value in understanding these differences is that a balance of both can help you and your students to be aware of their progress throughout a course so adjustments can be made before final, larger stakes assessments are attempted by the end of the course.  

The term 'evaluation' can also be used in regard to judgments made about the success of a course or program overall, including the instructional methods used (Taras, 2005).  Gathering feedback and evidence from your students regarding the course or program as a whole, while also reflecting on your own observations, are worthwhile practices.  In many cases, formative assessment techniques can serve to provide the sort of insight that is useful when reflecting on how you might tweak the delivery of a course or program going forward.   If you are interested in exploring additional ways to obtain feedback from your students, visit the feedback section of our site.  If you are a member of the UOIT teaching community, you are also welcome to book a meeting with one of the TLC's educational developers to discuss your questions. 

Assessment and Evaluation Ideas

Sometimes it can help to browse a list of assessment and evaluation ideas while planning for an upcoming course or session.  Below are just a few examples followed by additional resources. It is important to note that if a method you are considering will not help you and your students to determine whether at least one of the learning outcomes is being met, it should not likely be included in the course. 

Please note that, depending on how they are implemented, some of these examples could serve as either summative or formative assessment. 

Formative Assessment Examples 

Summative Assessment/Evaluation Examples

Minute papers or exit tickets

Oral exam or final presentation

Practice quizzes

Digital portfolio

Learning logs, reflective journals or course blogs

Research poster

Self and peer assessment

Research paper

Live question poll/survey response

Wiki assignment

Additional Resources  

Sample Assessment Methods - Queen's University 
Classroom Assessment Technique Examples - Adapted fom Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers - 2nd Edition (Angelo & Cross, 1993)

Assessment Criteria

Effective assessments are meaningful and transparent (Rust, 2002).  After you have selected the assessment methods you will use in your course, it is critical to outline clear instructions and grading criteria.  All grading criteria should be directly related to the course learning outcomes.  Furthermore, it can be useful to give your guidelines and grading criteria to a trusted colleague, teaching assistant or a member of the Teaching and Learning Centre for feedback.  It is possible that your guidelines and criteria are not as clear as you intend. 

Communicating Assessment Guidelines and Criteria with Students

Have you ever found yourself wondering if your students read the assessment guidelines?  As important as clear guidelines are, posting them in your course does not guarantee that students will submit improved work (Rust, 2002).  

Getting students into the habit of reviewing and engaging with assessment guidelines and criteria can happen in different ways. Rubrics and checklists are good ways to communicate grading criteria and students can be encouraged to check their own work against the criteria using these tools before it is submitted for grading.  If students are given opportunities to utilize rubrics -- through self or peer grading or involvement in the development of criteria -- they can be used to promote deeper learning (Reddy & Andrade, 2010).

Starting these practices early in the course can serve as ways to help your students to be more mindful of assessment guidelines and grading criteria. Additionally, rubrics and checklists can help to promote fairness and consistency when you are grading student work either independently or amongst a team of graders.


Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448. doi:10.1080/02602930902862859

Rust, C. (2002). The impact of assessment on student learning: How can the research literature practically help to inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centred assessment practices? Active Learning in Higher Education, 3(2), 145-158. doi:10.1177/1469787402003002004

Taras, M. (2005). Assessment–summative and formative–some theoretical reflections. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(4), 466-478. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8527.2005.00307.x

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