Frequently Asked Questions

You May Be Wondering...

Grades are summative evaluations of students' work or performance on an assignment, unit, or course. Grades are indicative of learning but may include aspects such as adherence to guidelines, timeliness of submission of assignments, penalties for incomplete work, collaborations, and other appropriate criteria. Most grades provide feedback to the student. Assessment provides feedback to faculty to help them improve the effectiveness of their instruction.

A grade that is based entirely on a rubric or an objective-scoring plan can legitimately be an evaluation of one or several student abilities.

Grades are primarily to give feedback to individual students about their formative or summative performance on several different learning outcomes. Assessment is designed to give feedback to the teacher about the collective performance of several students on specific learning outcomes.

Formative assessments provide feedback for both instructor and student and are ongoing and often low stake, e.g. pre-test, first draft of a paper, Summative assessments are used to document performance and to make decisions about grades on a unit, project, or course.

Direct Measures

Students demonstrate learning by their performances in a variety of ways, for example a portfolio, senior project, examination, or dance performance. Objective scoring, expert judgment, rubric or other scoring can measure the quality of the work, product, or performance.

Indirect Measures

Students report about their learning or status for example survey report of attitude or learning

Assessing Learning

Learning is change in attitude, ability, skill, performance, knowledge, etc. that has been brought about by experience and is not developmental. You can only document change if you have prior status measures, for example a pretest

Assessing performance

Measuring the attitudes, abilities, skills, performance, knowledge, etc. that your students have at a particular time is a performance assessment. You do not require a pretest for a performance assessment

Validity is about measurement use. A valid measure is one that is appropriately used and is measuring what you expect it to measure. There are many aspects to validity. Validity depends on, among other things, the content, construct accuracy, the criterion that the measure predicts.
Reliability is about test or measurement results. A reliable measure is on that gives consistent results when you measure a stable variable. A reliable measure has little measurement error and reflects primarily the true state of the knowledge, understanding, skill, or other ability or attitude that you are measuring. Reliability is necessary for validity.