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By Jill Frank
Adjunct Faculty, Santa Rosa Junior College
Business Office Technology Department

The Value of Effective Student Assessment

Table of Contents


Project by: Jill Frank
Asilomar-Assessment group
Group facilitator- Joyce Arntson

  1. ``Student assessments have two main purposes: to evaluate students' progress and to help students learn.  Some of the other uses for assessment are testing teaching effectiveness, encouraging educators to reflect on their teaching and material, provoking student thought and action, encouraging students to ask questions, and motivating students to learn."  ``You can use assessments to indicate whether components of the course have been clearly understood by the students.  You can record the results of assessments and check the results of student assessments to see how well they are performing.  Students' wrong answers can also be recorded and analyzed to determine the nature of the misunderstandings.  Based on the results of assessments, you can implement remedial lessons or expansion and clarification of material." (McCormack & Jones, 1998)

  2. Definition1: Assessment is the systematic collection of information about                      student learning and the use of that information to improve the learning and teaching          process in the classroom, department and general education programs.
  3. Principles for Assessment2:
    1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.
    2. Assessment is more effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.
    3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
    4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
    5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic.
    6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representative from across the educational community are involved.
    7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about.
    8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change.
    9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.

    ``Business teachers, along with all teachers, need to participate in choosing goals that are worthy of their attention and articulating these goals in meaningful ways as they develop instructional engagements."  ``Assessment is the essence of teaching in that it provides essential feedback to both teachers and learners about the results of their efforts."

  4. Types of Assessment3:Articulated by Zeliff and Schultz (1998)
    • These types of assessment are used to provide feedback for students in business education.
    • Traditional- traditional assessment typically measures lower-level cognitive skills.  This domain includes factual recall and comprehension.
    • Alternative- alternative assessment measures the affective domain and includes team activities. Evaluations of self and peers, and reflection through logs and portfolios.
    • Performance- performance assessment measures the psychomotor domain and includes students' demonstrations of competence in a skill or task, e.g., formatting documents, completing financial statement and transcribing dictation.
  5. The Process: 
    • Determine the course objectives- Use words like discuss, outline, classify, define, collaborate, derive, name, state, synthesize, infer, compute, design, appreciate, and integrate.
    • Consider what you want your students to learn- Use words like develop, qualify, list, sort, express, build, describe, analyze, argue, solve, create, compare, examine, define, identify, explain, assess, and measure. 
    • Evaluate various assessment methods- See methods below
    • Decide upon and create assessment methods- Assessment methods should meet your course objectives.
    • Develop the criteria for evaluation- See development of criteria below
  6. Assessment Methods: Click the link for additional information
  7. Means of evaluation4:The primary purpose of the evaluation process is to detect differences between expected and/or desired outcomes and actual outcomes so that processes and outcomes can be continually improved.
    • Summative- An overall evaluation is made of the success of an endeavor and the level of accomplishment attained.  If the purpose is to make assessment about the end result of an educational endeavor, such as a unit of instruction, a course or a class of students, then the assessment is called summative measure of learning outcomes.  It is important to note that in order for the evaluation to be considered summative, the assessments are completed after the instructional events have occurred.
    • Formative- A continuous evaluation of the course of instruction rather than a final evaluation at the completion of a course.  This type of evaluation allows for changes in practice to occur while the course is in progress.  In addition, formative evaluation practices reveal whether objectives and expectations are being fulfilled.
  8. Development of assessment criteria
    1. Identify the desired outcome
    2. Develop a benchmark to measure student achievement
    3. Sample rubric
  9. Links: (Joyce Diamond)
    Assessment and Evaluation Assessment & Evaluation on the Internet, Liselle Drake & Lawrence Rudner.  ERIC/AE ( July 14, 1995; last revised Dec 20, 1999

    ``…Click on a category of Internet resources on the left, and you will see annotated links to the best sites on the Internet that address educational assessment, evaluation and research. We have worked hard to develop this resource and have won several awards." Guide to Evaluating Online Instruction

    What better way to evaluate the effectiveness of your online instruction than through the success and learning of your students!   This evaluation guide uses the characteristics of the successful online student as the measurement of the value of the online class. AAHE's Assessment Forum.  Notes from AAHE Assessment Conference 2000 Solution Sessions, Including

    • How Can We Increase Attention to Issues of Diversity and Assessment?
    • What are the Keys to Creating a Culture of Assessment?
    • How Can We Counter Cheating and Plagiarism?
    • Is It Time to Reconsider AAHE's Principles of Good Assessment?
    • Why Do Faculty Resist Assessment?
    • How Can Standardized Tests Be Used Effectively in an Assessment Program?
    • How Can We Assess General Education Programs Effectively?
    • What is on the Horizon for American Higher Education? ``ae" is assessment and evaluation - a project of the maricopa center for learning & instruction - Maricopa community colleges Fair Assessment PracticesGiving Students Equitable Opportunities to Demonstrate LearningBy Linda Suskie.From the May 2000, AAHE Bulletin.  Well-researched with a useful bibliography. Online Exercises System provides automatically generated computer-gradedsmart exercises for instruction via the Web. HTML documents with graphs, links, and complex formulas are created individually for every student. The system supports answers as numerical or algebraic formulas, true/false, and multiple choice. Scores, and the actual student answers are stored in the logs. Assessment and Program Improvement at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -The Task Force on Assessment and Program Improvement. August 1997 From the Wolverhampton University Computer Based Assessment Project (UK). The downloadable Computer Based Assessment tests in this project were designed and used at the University of Wolverhampton to replace written tests. Each tests generates an exam randomly from a possible 80,000 variations and then delivers the exam, marks it and gives feedback . Assessment of Our Students IV - Essay Tests. A short paper from Univ. of CO's Nutshell Notes, Volume 2 Number 1, 1997. This issue has several on assessment. Authentic Assessment Assessment Resources Alternative Assessment/Performance Based Assessment: Alternative Approaches to Outcomes Assessment for Postsecondary Education: American Evaluation Association Questions To Ask When Evaluating Tests. By Lawrence M. Rudner, ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. SECTION 5:INTEGRATING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT OF STUDENTS WITH THE TEACHING ASSESSMENT MODEL ``This section is in part a contribution to the development of accounting education outcome assessment to be used in a wide spectrum of institutions and programs…" Alternative Approaches to Outcomes Assessment for Postsecondary Education.  National Center for Research in Vocational Education, UC Berkeley, 1995. Dr. Helen Barrett's favorite links on Alternative Assessment & Electronic Portfolios Portfolio News A newsletter published by the Portfolio Assessment Clearinghouse, which serves as a network for educators involved with portfolio assessment. Assessment and Program Improvement at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -The Task Force on Assessment and Program Improvement. August 1997 Guidelines for Quality Assessment of Teaching. Loughborough University (UK), 4/2000.


    • Guidelines for the Direct Observation of Teaching
    • An Assessor's Guide to Effective Teaching Behaviours
    • Guidelines for creating a Teaching Portfolio
    • Guidelines for creating a Teaching Folder
    • The HEFCE Structure of Self-Assessments
    • Assessor's Report the observation of a Promotion candidate (including from Lecturer A to Lecturer B)

    Download a Teaching Observation Report Form


starstarstar Ability-Based Education at Alverno College, MI. Includes eight ``Abilities" as well as:

Student Assessment-as-learning

"In order to evaluate student demonstration of the abilities, Alverno faculty developed the concept of assessment as a multidimensional process of judging the individual in action. In both course-based assessments and integrative assessments, which focus student learning from several courses, we elicit samples of performance representing the expected learning outcomes from a course or program. Faculty and other trained assessors observe and judge a student's performance based on explicit criteria. Their diagnostic feedback as well as the reflective practice of self-assessment by each student, helps to create a continuous process that improves learning and integrates it with assessment. We call this process student assessment-as-learning.

Faculty and other trained assessors observe and judge a student's performance based on explicit criteria. Their feedback, as well as the reflective practice of self assessment by each student, helps create a continuous process that improves learning and integrates it with assessment."

For more information on student assessment and ability-based education at Alverno, call 414-382-6100.

Assessment, Graduate Student Fairness, Access, Multiculturalism, & Equity (FAME) -- Report Series.  All documents are in downloadable PDF (Adobe) reader format.

The GRE FAME Report Series (Vol. 1) - includes reports on:

  • Human Diversity, Graduate Education, and Challenges for Assessment
  • Merit and Opportunity: Testing and Higher Education at the Vortex
  • Pathway to the Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana

The GRE FAME Report Series (Vol. 2) - includes reports on:

  • Fairness in Computer-Based Testing: What We Know and What We Need to Know
  • Testing Accommodations for the New Millennium: Computer-Administered Testing in a Changing Society
  • Equity and Knowledge Integration

The GRE FAME Report Series (Vol. 3) - includes reports on:

  • Cognitive Patterns of Gender Differences on Mathematics Admissions Tests
  • The Current and Future Status of Minorities and Women in Mathematics and Science
  • Multicontextuality: A Hidden Dimension in Testing and Assessment
  • Beyond Inclusion: Multicultural Perspectives in the Service of Transformation
  • What Will Be the Role of the GRE in Graduate Admissions Decisions in the 21st Century?


Higher Ed & Professional Portfolio Examples

  • Portfolio Program – 40 colleges review their portfolio programs. Portfolio News A newsletter published by the Portfolio Assessment Clearinghouse, which serves as a network for educators involved with portfolio assessment. The Kalamazoo portfolio: reflections, connections, life. A comprehensive college-wide application of portfolios.

    starstarstarstar Alverno College's Diagnostic Digital Portfolio.   An early pioneer in the use of portfolios in Teacher Education, here is the website for their Diagnostic Digital Portfolio which maintains key performances.
  • Teaching Portfolios.  Article on How to Document your Teaching for faculty members preparing materials for promotion/tenure. (from Center for Teaching Excellence at Iowa State University) Career Development Portfolios.  The Washington SOICC provides support for career development portfolios. Portfolios Online: FAQ. A website for visual artists and communication professionals to post their portfolios. Women @ the Cutting Edge.  This group from RMIT University, Kodak Australia, and Moreland City College in Australia is offering a course in developing multimedia professional portfolios. or CATO project at University of Jyväskylä, Finland. An active research project entitled, Collaboration and Authenticity in Open Technologically-Enriched Learning Contexts. Collaborative school portfolios: Flexible learning and teaching in technologically enriched childhood environments. A research project to enhance mutual collaboration and understanding between kindergartens and schools. The development work is made visible, followed and assessed through the research network by means of digital portfolios. In this study there is an emphasis on teacher support in the form of teacher training in educational technology. Communication and Collaboration through Networking and Digital Portfolios.  Paper presented at the EARLI conference in Athens, 26 - 30 August 1997.  Flexible learning and teaching in Childhood Environments.  Paper presented by Marja Kankaanranta at the EARLI conference in Athens, 26 - 30 August 1997 Portfolio Info Site at the Amsterdam Faculty of Education. This brand new web site was developed by the Educative Faculty of the Netherlands as an experimental project in portfolio development.  The site was custom-designed to their specifications, and has both public and restricted access. An active research project, presented at the SITE conference in San Diego on a CD-ROM entitled, "Dutch Courage".


"This web-site has two functions:

  • Supporting tutors and students in creating their portfolio by means of demo portfolios, user guides and background articles.
  • Information and communication with people from other institutions who are interested in the portfolio."


Description of Assessment Methods: 

Testing (written/oral)

Standard tests are considered to be a collection of objective items. This direct means of measurement can include multiple choice, true/false, short answer, long answer and calculated questions and will tend to provide information about groups as opposed to individuals. This can be accomplished using a pen and paper or computer aided format and can be in person or online.  This format allows instructors to make generalizations about their students and their courses.

Writing (essays, research papers, case studies)

Writings represent a subjective means of measuring student learning of higher-level cognitive skills and knowledge.  Essays, research papers and case studies are typical methods.  Students concentrate on a particular topic of study and are presented with parameters by the instructor.  Assessment is measured by the depth of student understanding presented as a final submission.


A portfolio is an accumulation of student work during a particular time frame. Portfolios allow for the evaluation of student work from beginning to end with a progression of increased skills and knowledge.


Presentations can be combined with writings.  It is also a subjective means of evaluating student learning.  A student will research a topic and then present it to the class in a presentation format. Assessment using this style allows the instructor to determine a student's level of understanding and evaluate the student's ability to verbally communicate what they have learned.




Self-Evaluations are another subjective style of assessment. In this case, however, it is the student that is doing the evaluating. Student self-evaluations provide an opportunity unlike any other means of assessment.  Students will look at the course, the objectives, their learning strategies, educational outcome and more when completing the evaluation. Students are required to search within themselves to successfully assess their course and more importantly their level of learning.


Journals, if implemented properly, can be an effective assessment tool.  This type of assessment is ongoing and can benefit business instructors as well as instructors in other disciplines.  Journaling provides students with an opportunity to use creative writing combined with problem solving, leadership, critical thinking, and reflection.  This assessment method provides an opportunity for the instructor to evaluate both their students and their course.

Surveys/Student Feedback

Surveys, either locally developed or nationally normed, are a form of attitudinal measurement.  Surveys provide feedback regarding student satisfaction.  It could encompass current students, graduating students, and alumni/industry.  Surveys can be composed of multiple choice and/or open-ended questions.  By retaining a core of questions, a survey conducted over time will allow the instructor to monitor changes in the attitudes of students.

Projects (individual/group)

Projects, individual or group, are a direct measurement tool. Projects allow students to work autonomously or collaboratively depending on the course.  Typical project parameters include the collaboration between students to encourage teamwork and promote communication. Assessment is normally based on the overall success of the project and information synthesized.


Interviews may allow students to formalize the details of their work or efforts and define or explain their completed project/work and may also gather information about the students' satisfaction or lack of with the outcome of their learning.

Capstone Projects


Capstone projects are another means of direct measurement. A capstone project requires students to utilize digested knowledge over a period of one's course study. Students are expected to integrate the information drawn from several means of study and complete a comprehensive project representing their learning.





Sample Rubric for Developing Assessment Criteria5:

Step 1: How does the lesson involve students' use of the Internet as a learning tool?

  • A. To communicate with peers and/or experts to increase their own understanding
  • B. To contribute to the body of knowledge by sharing their learning.

If the lesson involves students in communicating, collaborating, or contributing...then it can be considered an INTERACTIVE lesson.

  • C. To access and manage information that is pertinent to their topic

If the lesson involves students in managing information resources found on the Web, then it can be considered a RESOURCE lesson.

If the lesson does NOT involve students in any of these activities, then the entry is disqualified.

Step 2: If the lesson resides on a teacher-created web page that is well crafted, free of grammatical or technical errors, and easy to use, it will be awarded a 2-point bonus.

Step 3: The rubric below is what ED's Oasis staff uses to evaluate the lesson. You can use it as a guide as you design your lesson.




0 points

2 points

4 points

6 points

Curriculum and Standards

The lesson provides no connection to core curriculum or a standard course of study or to state and/or national curriculum standards.

The lesson provides some connection to core curriculum with a few references to a course of study and to curriculum standards.

The lesson provides connections to core curriculum with clear references to a course of study and curriculum standards.

The lesson supports core curriculum content appropriate to the targeted student group and is well integrated with a course of study and aligned with curriculum standards.


The lesson is flat and uninspiring. There is no evidence of student choice or flexibility in pace, topic or end product.

The lesson is appealing, but student choice and flexibility are limited.

The lesson is appealing, and there is evidence of instructional flexibility or accommodation of students' interests.

The lesson is appealing, and it invites students to be creative. It supports student choice and encourages students to take responsibility for their learning by having at least one section that is open-ended.


Neither students nor teachers worked as teams or partners in this unit.

One of the following conditions is true:
(1) A team of teachers shares some responsibility for the design and implementation of the project.
(2) Teams of students worked together on at least part of the lesson.

One of the following conditions is true:
(1) The unit is clearly a joint effort of a team of teachers who are at the same or different school sites.
(2) Students are required to work in teams for most of the project.
(3) Classes depend on gathering data or input from geographically distant partners.

At least two of the following conditions are true:
(1) The unit is clearly a joint effort of a team of teachers.
(2) Students are required to work in teams for most of the project.
(3) Classes depend on gathering data or input from geographically distant partners.

The role of the teacher

The lesson does not describe the teacher's role.

The lesson alludes to the teacher's role via general "tips."


The teacher's role is implicit in the lesson description.

The lesson describes the teacher's specific activities and how he or she is to support student learning.

The lesson describes the teacher's specific activities and how he or she is to support and assess student learning. It identifies potential challenges inherent to the lesson and suggests alternative instructional strategies.

Instructional Design

The lesson seems incomplete or sketchy.

The lesson is complete, but lacks depth. It does not offer strategies for adaptations to students with special needs or learning style preferences.

The lesson is complete, goes into depth, but lacks specific examples of adaptations for students with special needs or learning style preferences.

The lesson is complete, deep, and adaptable. It offers extensions for more motivated learners and/or adaptations for students with special needs or learning style preferences.


There is no evidence of a connection to educational objectives or assessment strategies.

There is some mention of educational objectives, but inadequate or incomplete references to assessment.

There is adequate identification of educational objectives and assessment strategies.

Educational objectives are clear, obtainable, and measurable. Multiple and alternative assessment strategies are described.

Use of the Web Medium

The lesson's use of the Internet treats students as passive recipients of information, is not well defined, or is a trivial use of the medium.

The lesson's use of the Internet is focused, and may originate from a teacher-designed web site.

The lesson's use of the Internet helps students achieve their learning objectives by involving them actively in at least one of the following ways:
(1) searching for information, or
(2) communicating with peers and/or experts.

The lesson's use of the Internet helps students achieve their learning objectives by involving them actively in:
(1) searching for information, or
(2) communicating with peers and/or experts, AND
synthesizing their information and/or data into a presentation that is published online.

Ease of Use

The scope of the lesson is flawed in at least one of the following ways: its time frame is too demanding; it is too limited; too expensive, too specialized for general use, or is simply a poor use of the Web medium.

The scope of the lesson is challenging because it uses some materials or strategies, which are not typically available or manageable.

The scope of the lesson appears to be manageable in a typical classroom of the targeted grade level and subject, but it has NOT been tested and used with students.

The scope of the lesson is manageable in a typical classroom of the targeted grade level and subject. The lesson has been tested and used with students, and the teacher has provided reflective comments about his/her experiences.



© ED's Oasis *
*Permission to copy or reprint this rubric is granted only if the copyright notice is included. Any use of these materials for commercial gain is prohibited.



Denton, J. (2000). Using the Grading Process for Departmental & Institutional Assessment.  Oakland. 

National Business Education Association, (2000).  Assessment in Business Education.

© ED's Oasis *

Links provided by Joyce Diamond, Research Coordinator Foundation For CA Community Colleges

McCormack, C. & Jones, D. (1998).  Building a Web-Based Education System. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Carfax Publishing, Taylor & Francis Ltd. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Volume 25 Number 1 March 2000.

Peggy Maki, Ph.D. (2000).  Student Outcomes Assessment: Strategies for Getting Started and Sustaining the Momentum. 

Muataz Al-Barwani, et al.  Instructional Assessment in Higher Education.  The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

California Assessment Institute, (2000).  The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.  Oakland.




1Denton, J. (2000).  Using the Grading Process for Departmental & Institutional Assessment.  Oakland 

2National Business Education Association, (2000). Assessment in Business Education. (pgs. 36-37)

3National Business Education Association, (2000). Assessment in Business Education. (pg. 17)

4National Business Education Association, (2000). Assessment in Business Education. (pgs. 26-29)

5© ED's Oasis *



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