COVID-19: Increasing Support for Online Teaching

Effective Structures for Assessment

Effective Structures for Assessment

When an instructor creates an assessment, he or she should first determine its purpose and then structure the assessment so that students can communicate their comprehension and learn from the assessment process itself. Structuring effective assessments requires the following:

  • Describing assignments clearly and indicating the criteria by which student work will be evaluated.  
  • Making assessments reasonable with respect to time and resources.  
  • Assessing material at the same depth in which it was explored in class. For example, avoid using tests that assess only recall of facts if you emphasized higher-order thinking during class. Similarly, if you emphasized only factual or procedural understanding in class, you should not expect students to be able to demonstrate their understanding in complex analyses.  
  • Letting your students know what to expect on in-class tests, quizzes, and exams. Discuss the structure, format, and grading standards for assignments. Consider making old tests and exams available to the class or providing a list of possible exam questions.  
  • Giving assessment feedback as soon as you can. In order for students to learn from their performances, it is critical they receive timely feedback. Whenever possible return assessments within a week so that the assignment is fresh in your students’ minds.  
  • Distribute a scoring rubric with the assignment so your students will know your assessment criteria. A rubric is a tool that details the gradations of difference between understanding something well and not understanding it at all. Rubrics require significant effort to construct, but they ultimately decrease the amount of labor dedicated to grading student work. They greatly increase consistency, and they enhance communication of expectations to students.

What follows is a rubric designed to grade a student presentation used in Professor Lois Veitri’s (GVPT) course, GVPT 470A.

Lois Veitri’s (GVPT) course, GVPT 470A.

  Outstanding Good Marginal Unacceptable
Content Material related to thesis; all points clearly made; material related to the seminar theme Many good points related to the seminar theme, thesis Great deal of information not clearly connected to the theme or the seminar thesis Thesis not clear and the information presented not related to the author's thesis or seminar theme
Coherence & Organization Examples appropriate; presentation flows well; well-organized; within 3-5 minutes of the allotted time Mostly logical and organized; need better transitions; within 5-7 minutes of allotted time Concepts and ideas loosely connected; choppy; lacks clear transitions; within 8-10 minutes of allotted time Quite choppy, disjointed; no correspondence to author's ideas; beyond 10 minutes of the allotted time
Speaking Skills Poised, clear articulation; enthusiasm for the material; confidence, good volume, eye contact with peers Clear articulartion but not as polished Some mumbling; little eye contact; little to no expression Inaudible; no eye contact; disinterested; spoke in a monotone
Audience Response Involved the audience and maximized their learning with a handout; presentation generated questions Involved the audience most of the time; hand-out not as polished Tended to go off topic; lost the audience at times; no hand-out or hastily prepared Incoherent; off topic; audience lost interest; no handout or use of blackboard to guide audience
Sample rubric for oral communication
  Outstanding (5) Good (4) Marginal (3) Unacceptable (1)
Coherent & Org        
Speaking Skills        
Audience Resp.        


SCORE _________ X 5 = GRADE

Grading Rubrics and Online Resources for Assessment

Many sample rubrics can be found online. The following list of links is a starting point only and may lead in promising directions for those developing and refining grading rubrics for their own assignments: