Useful Assessments

The way students are assessed can have a great effect on their motivation, but with the ever-changing landscape of education, giving good feedback can be difficult (Laureate Education, 2011).

Ideally, the assessments and the feedback that following assignments have to be done in a way that is fair for the student and provides useful information so the student can improve.

Group-Based Assessment

One strategy that might be helpful is Group-Based Assessment (GBA). This requires students to work together and critique each others works as it progresses. Rather than waiting until the end of the assignment to give a final grade, GBA provides formative assessment opportunities as the work is being done to give students an opportunity to improve before the final mark is given (Bicen & Laverie, 2009).

Students receive formative feedback not only from peers but also from the instructor. This gives students an opportunity use higher-order thinking skills like evaluation and analysis (Vanderbilt University, 2013). The recipient of the feedback benefits from getting multiple sources of information instead of only the instructor. The other students in the class will have different expertise to offer based on their backgrounds and specific competencies. Students may also feel more independent if there are sources of advice beyond the instructor (Bicen & Laverie, 2009).


Most rubrics are assigned by the instructor, but students can also design the rubric with a little guidance from the instructor on categories that must be included and minimum percentage values.

Although rubrics do help to stave off subjective grading by establishing a standard, the criteria need to be explicit and measurable. These criteria need to establish not only the highest mark available, but also levels below that where the point total is neither maximum nor minimum (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009).

A good rubric can be difficult to build. I often established the criteria for a “perfect score” then the lesser scores were listed as a number of criteria weak or missing from the ideal. This was still problematic because no matter how carefully I thought out the criteria, at least one student would do something completely unexpected.

A benefit to using the rubric was that the student knew ahead of time exactly what I would be looking for. For a student-designed rubric, the student can assign point values (within teacher-provided guidelines) to account for personal strengths and weaknesses.

Self-Assessment: Closure

Another possible strategy would be to have the student provide a final assessment on the project. The student can analyze the experience and cite not only what skills were gained but also suggest areas that still need improvement (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009).

This allows the student time to do critical reflection on the learning experience. Dyson (2010) suggests that this process of reflection helps students see the broader view and find their place in the world. Reflections need not be particularly long or involved, but they should be thorough enough to make the student’s growth in the subject and as a person clear.


The goal of assessment should not be to stick an alphanumerical grade on something. Instead, assessment should be done in an effort to determine how well the student has truly mastered the material and to provide constructive feedback on ways to close the gap between the goal and current situation (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009). Assessment and feedback should celebrate what the student has done well and give explicit resources and strategies to improve what is still lacking. That sort of assessment is effective because students feel more competent when they know what they did well and can plan ways to continue to improve (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009).

According to Ginsberg and Wlodkowski (2009), authentic assessments need to reflect what the student finds important, what the student understands, and what the student has experienced so far in life. This increases intrinsic motivation because the material then has value for the student. Getting the student involved in determining the criteria for success should help with authenticity because the student best understands the personal values, prior knowledge, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses that will come into play with the assignment.

Assessment and feedback are difficult to do well, but they are vital to the success of the student.


Bicen, P., & Laverie, D. A. (2009). Group-based assessment as a dynamic approach to marketing education. Journal of Marketing Education, 31(2), 96–108. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Academic Search Complete database.

Dyson, M. (2010). What might a person-centered model of teacher education look like in the 21st century? The transformism model of teacher education. Journal of Transformative Education, 8(1), 3–21. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the SAGE Premier database.

Ginsberg, M. B., & Wlodkowski, R. J. (2009). Diversity & motivation: Culturally responsive teaching in college (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Engendering Competence [Video webcast]. Retrieved from

Vanderbilt University. (2013). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved November 27, 2013 from


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