Assessments are important for a number of reasons. They:
- Determine the ability of participants by discriminating between those who can or know and those who can’t or don’t know.
- Identify problems with instructional materials, content, activities, methods.
- Hire/fire/promote/demote. (This is a REAL sticky issue; there are many legal ramifications with validity and reliability that must be accounted for to ensure legal compliance.)
There is a clear and direct link between objectives and assessments, which is why we write assessments directly after writing objectives: if objectives define what participants should be able to do, assessments enable us to determine if they’re able to do it.
This is such an important statement that it needs to be repeated from a slightly different perspective: if an objective is at the Apply Level, your assessment should be at the Apply Level; if an objective is at the Remember Level, your assessment should be at the Remember Level.
There are hundreds of ways to assess. Sure, there’s the paper-and-pencil test (which is effective for the Remember Level objective!). There are demonstrations where the participant uses the skills in a simulated situation and is evaluated against some list of criteria. There are role-plays, quizzes, Jeopardy-like games, crossword puzzles, team competitions, Family Feud-type games, board games, panels, debates, simulations, presentations, questions, College Bowl-type competitions, Bingo-type games, etc.
Each content type has assessments that are better for the content type than other assessments:
- Facts: Best to be tested with another content type. However, can be tested independently by using multiple choice, short answer, and matching test questions.
- Concepts: Measure ability to classify unknown items; format assessment questions like the practice exercises but with new examples; have students choose from examples.
- Processes: Measure ability to solve a problem using the process; use simulations and problem-solving scenarios.
- Procedures: Measure speed and/or accuracy in completing the procedure; use labs and simple simulations; have students demonstrate the procedure.
- Principles: Measure proficiency in meeting skills criteria; best done by skilled raters/evaluators using behavioral criteria; use behavioral checklists; train rater/evaluators.
The point is to consider how you will determine whether participants can demonstrate that they have achieved the objective. If you have no way of knowing when you’ve arrived at your destination, your journey may last a long time!
Note: Check out Entelechy’s eGuides available to help write effective multiple-choice questions and to create effective performance-based evaluation forms.