Assessment is vitally important for student success. It is best if you offer multiple opportunities to assess student learning. Using more frequent and lower stakes assessments rather than few and more high stakes measures can contribute to increased student learning. Use various approaches and strategies when requiring students to demonstrate understanding and knowledge. 

Tests and quizzes are the most common ways to assess student learning. (You can learn more about online testing and quizzes under Online Teaching Strategies). 

Before an assessment, provide students with the criteria that will be used to evaluate their understanding. Offer information about your expectations through: 

  • Rubrics 
  • Checklists 
  • Required number of online discussion postings and responses 
  • Expected word counts 
  • Content requirements 
  • Review sheets 
  • Point values for test questions 

Alternative Assessments. These extend forms of student learning evaluation through the use of a wide array of tools that are multi-dimensional and integrated with the course content.

Benefits. Alternative assessments can result in deeper learning among students because they are offer opportunities that encourage more robust and advanced learning. The forms of knowledge aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy include: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating. These are useful for thinking about the kinds of learning that you want your students to acquire.

Types of Alternative Assessments. Aligning assessments with Bloom’s Taxonomy requires different forms of assessment. These methods go beyond tests and quizzes (remembering) to include: summaries, short-answer questions, explanation of multiple-choice questions, collages (understanding); blogs, demonstrations, how-to guides, journal entries, performances, role plays, illustrations, posters, simulations (applying); abstracts, case studies, literature reviews, checklists, chapter reviews, spread sheets, surveys (analyzing); annotated bibliographies, business cases, debates, discussion, peer evaluation, research proposals, self-evaluation, reports, persuasive letters, and summaries (evaluating); advertisements, brochures, factsheets, films, infographics, games, podcasts, portfolios, songs, stories, web pages, and other projects (creating). 


Provide detailed feedback on assessments and student inquiries. Feedback on student work should be timely and substantive. 

  • Recognize strengths and provide specific suggestions for improvement. 
  • Provide informative feedback on incorrect answer choices. 
  • Provide opportunities to submit preliminary drafts for instructor review and comment. 
  • Consider using audio or video feedback for assignments to build more social presence. 
  • Use SafeAssign in Blackboard to check for plagiarism and allow students to view an originality report before submitting the assignment for grading.

Evaluation of Instructor Teaching  

It is also important to gather information about your teaching throughout the semester so you can make changes that enhance student learning.  Ask students for feedback by conducting anonymous surveys or conducting focus groups. One method for obtaining data on your teaching and student learning during the semester is to use the Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ). This method can be used to assess many aspects of your teaching throughout the semester. You can also request a mid-semester focus group evaluation from the Center for Teaching Excellence. This process helps to illicit students’ suggestions for improvement of their own learning.