The Why and How of Assessments

As of late, I have had various conversations about assessments: types of assessments, usefulness of assessment, etc. One question that I found interesting to consider was about where learning actually occurs and whether or not we are organizing assessments for reporting or learning. This question was proposed during a webinar that also focused heavily on the idea of assessments being useful. Instead of thinking about what types of assessment to create, the participants in the webinar were encouraged to reflect on how the assessment will be used.

The University of Connecticut has an interesting page on the subject entitled “Why Assessment?”. In particular, they include an interesting quote from Kevin Bain’s (2004) What the Best College Teachers Do about how one learns best:

“People tend to learn most effectively (in ways that make a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on the way they think, act, or feel) when

  • they are trying to solve problems (intellectual, physical, artistic, practical, abstract, etc.) or create something new that they find intriguing, beautiful, and/or important;
  • they are able to do so in a challenging yet supportive environment in which they can feel a sense of control over their own education;
  • they can work collaboratively with other learners to grapple with the problems;
  • they believe that their work will be considered fairly and honestly; and
  • they can try, fail, and receive feedback from expert learners in advance of and separate from any summative judgment of their efforts.”

To read more about the purpose of assessments, as well as review other great resources about the development of assessments, follow this link:

And to read more about Kevin Bain’s book, click here:


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