Search within:
Three people holding pens point at various graphs on a piece of paper.
Assessment Approaches and Methods

Assessment Approaches and Methods

Assessment approaches and methods comprise a variety of tasks by which instructors and programs collect information about student performance and achievement. The methods an instructor, department or program implements is determined by the learning outcomes, the discipline, the number of learners or students involved and program certification or accreditation requirements.

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CTLA) offers regular workshops and sessions on topics related to assessment approaches and methods. Additionally, instructors can learn more about assessment methods and approaches, evidence regarding their efficacy, and how to make instructional decisions based on student assessment throughout the CTLA website and in the digital resource hub.

Assessment Approaches and Methods Resources

Through these resources, you can learn how to design authentic assessment and explore approaches to evaluate your instruction and assessments.

  • Designing Authentic Assessment

    Authentic assessment aims to test skills and knowledge in "real world" applications. Learn the components and considerations for authentic assessment, review comparisons and examples and begin planning your own authentic assessments.

  • Self-Assessment

    By reflecting on your professional approach to teaching, it can provide insights for areas of instruction that may need improvement.

  • Self-Assessment Activities

    Aside from reflecting upon your professional approach to teaching, participating in formal and informal activities may help you evaluate and demonstrate teaching effectiveness.

  • Peer Evaluation of Instruction

    Participating in peer evaluation of instruction is another way to gain insights to help you improve instruction or demonstrate teaching effectiveness.

Establishing a Successful Assessment Program

In the most successful assessment programs, assessment provides formative and summative data to allow for continual improvement and adjustments, as well as formal evaluation of a course or program. 

Most importantly, assessment for learning highlights the principle that all assessment strategies promote student learning, that practice is important to achieving learning outcomes, that feedback is critical to improvement and performance, that authentic assessment is quite valuable and that assessment can develop lifelong learners.

Student assessment that contributes to course grades might include:

  • Practicum experience/field work
  • Interview studies
  • Individual projects or presentations
  • Group projects or presentations
  • Teaching a lesson
  • Completing homework or worksheets
  • Written papers (research, essays, reflections, etc.)
  • Journals or blogs (including learning journals)
  • Observations/checklists
  • Lab reports
  • Portfolios
  • Performances
  • Quizzes
  • Essay questions or exams
  • Multiple-choice questions or exams
  • Written response or fill-in-the-blank questions or exams
  • Student self-assessment
  • Peer assessment

Regardless of approach or method, it is helpful for instructors and assessment leads to consider particular values such as the definition of rigor (aligning methods with student outcomes, ethics of fairness and equity, commitment to improving instruction); generativity (supporting the conditions for development of new and effective teaching methods); practicability (connecting learning to the real world); and full participation (accessibility and inclusivity).