Skip to main content

Course-Level Assessment

What we assess should align with what we expect our students to know and be able to do. We can design and choose assessment methods that are appropriate for the learning outcomes, and accommodate the situations and constraints we have to work with. No single assessment method fits all situations and for all purposes. Therefore, always consider using multiple sources of evidence to balance out strengths and weaknesses of each type of assessment method, and allow students to demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes in different settings.   

The following summary provides general guidelines on the selection of assessment methods for different learning outcomes and purposes. It describes frequently used assessment methods such as tests/exams, rubric-based assessments, surveys, student reflections, and classroom observations. You can also learn about other innovative and creative assessment methods from Classroom Assessment Techniques (Angelo and Cross).

Assessment Methods

assessmentmethods.pngDownloadable PDF of image above PDF-logo.jpg

 Examples, Templates, and Services

Validated Concept Inventories

Assessment Method Multiple-Choice Exam
Data Type Direct
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will retrieve knowledge of a specific set of concepts. 
Use of the Assessment Method  Concept inventories can help understand students’ learning gains when used as pre and post-tests. Given at the beginning of a course/unit/lesson, it also evaluates students’ prior academic preparation to determine an appropriate starting point for instruction. 
Examples Biology Concepts Inventory
Chemistry Concepts Inventory
Computer Science
Engineering
The Calculus Concept Inventory 
Calculus Concept Readiness Instrument 
Precalculus Concept Assessment 
UCSD Math Diagnostic Test
Physics Concepts Inventory

University Placement Exams

Assessment Method Multiple-Choice Exam
Data Type Direct
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will retrieve and apply prior knowledge to answer questions and solve problems.  
Use of the Assessment Method  In addition to placement, the test scores can also serve as baseline data, suggesting academic preparation and areas for interventions.  
Examples UC San Diego Math Placement Exam (MPE)
UC San Diego Analytical Writing Placement Exam (AWPE)
UC San Diego Chemistry Placement Exam
UC San Diego Language Placement Exam

Faculty Developed Tests

Assessment Method Multiple-Choice Exam
Data Type Direct
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will apply knowledge gained from the class to answer questions and solve problems. 
Use of the Assessment Method  Instructors can use tests to determine how well students have mastered the course materials at different time points of the term to provide feedback or assign grades. 

Performance-Based Assessment Used with Rubrics

Data Type Direct
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will apply higher-order thinking skills gained from the class to create a product or complete a process.
Use of the Assessment Method  Instructors usually use performance-based assessments towards the completion of a class/unit/lesson to determine how well students integrate and apply expected knowledge and skills. The performance tasks can also be scaffolded to demonstrate students’ maturation of work over a period of time. Rubrics can be used as a learning guide, a grading tool, and a feedback mechanism. 
Examples VALUE Rubrics  
term papers
oral presentations
lab reports
theses/dissertations
performances 
exhibits

How to create a rubric 

Rubric Template

Surveys

Data Type Indirect
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will self-assess their learning experience and learning environment to report on their satisfaction, engagement, perceived learning gains or attitude changes. 
Use of the Assessment Method  Instructors can survey a large number of students to gather feedback for course improvement. Surveys can also measure students’ behavioral or dispositional status or changes.  
Examples Qualtrics available to current UC San Diego faculty, staff, and students

Student Reflections

Data Type Indirect
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will evaluate their learning process and synthesize their knowledge and understanding learned in the class. 
Use of the Assessment Method  Instructors can use prompt questions to guide students’ reflection on specific topics. 
Examples Writing prompts

Classroom Observations

Data Type Indirect 
Intended Learning Outcomes  Students will demonstrate their engagement with the instruction and learning materials.
Use of the Assessment Method  Peer instructors or education specialists can conduct the classroom observations for the instructor. If followed with a student focus group, this method can provide very specific feedback on instructors’ teaching effectiveness. 
Examples UC San Diego classroom observations