2.3 Create an Assessment Plan


Do you sometimes find that you use the same types of assessment methods and tools that you were assigned as a student?  Do you sometimes find your students are not achieving the learning outcomes but can’t identify where the learning gaps occur?

Effective assessments of students are aligned with the and instructional strategies.  It is also important to remember that designing assessments, like other elements of curriculum, is best approached within the context of the course and as a part of the overall . An assessment plan, viewed through the UDL lens, needs to include a variety of assessment tools and techniques in order to meet the needs of variable learners.

USask Lens:

“I think it’s nice when professors have a lot of different ways to get marks and its not all just midterm and final. The classes that I have enjoyed the most and that have been the least stressful are the ones where there are multiple assignments. It’s more accommodating to various learning styles not necessarily just people who can memorize material.”

-Student testimonials from the Wellness Strategy Report

One of the most significant things you can do to create and transparent assessments when creating your assessment plan, is to ensure the various types of assessment are represented: assessment for learning (formative assessment), assessment as learning, and assessment of learning (summative assessment).

  • Assessment for Learning (Formative assessment) provides ongoing and frequent ways to measure student progress towards learning outcomes. Formative assessments give students multiple opportunities to learn through practice and feedback, so they have sufficient time and support to reflect and improve.  Formative assessment acts as an informal check-in to determine student progress in achieving learning outcomes. Data and feedback from formative assessments allows teachers to adapt their instructional decisions in a responsive and immediate fashion.
  • Assessment as Learning actively involves students in monitoring and assessing their own learning. Assessment as Learning develops student’s ability to learn effectively and prepares students to be self-directed, reflective, and engaged learners.
  • Assessment of Learning (Summative assessment) focuses on learner performance after instruction has occurred, such as midterm exams and final projects. Summative assessments allow students to provide evidence demonstrating their level of achievement of the course learning outcomes.  Common forms of summative assessment include: student portfolios, projects that have written and/or oral products, exams, or performance tasks that demonstrate student achievement of the learning outcomes.

The following table compares the three types:

Types of Assessment
Assessment for Learning  (Formative Assessment) Assessment as Learning Assessment of Learning  (Summative Assessment)
Assess student’s progress and learning needs Assess student’s cognition about their learning Assess what students have learned
Part of course teaching strategies Part of course teaching strategies Part of course assessment strategy
Opportunity for students to practice and grow Opportunity for students to reflect and set goals Opportunity for students to demonstrate learning
Goal is to improve and inform student learning Goal is to engage student’s in monitoring and assessing their own learning Goal is to measure student learning
Grade component not required Grade component not required Assigned grade required
Educator provides feedback and guidance for improvement Educator provides feedback and guidance for improvement Educator provides feedback and guidance for improvement
Examples: journal entries, portfolios, exit slips, practice quizzes, classroom discussions, peer-assessment, self-assessment Examples: self-assessment, reflective assignments, co-creation of assessment criteria Examples: exams, projects, research papers, group presentations, podcast


Reflection: One Small Step

Ask yourself the following questions about the assessments in your course:

Assessment for Learning  (Formative Assessment):

  • Have I offered timely, outcome-related feedback on the assessment?
  • Have I provided regular opportunities for students to check their learning progress through non-graded learning activities?
  • How can I use information from formative assessments to adjust my future instructions so my students achieve the learning outcomes?

Assessment as Learning:

  • Have I provided students with opportunities to reflect and self-assess their progress in the course and also set goals?
  • Have I offered learners the opportunity to assess individual learning progress and process, for example, through regular check-ins?
  • Have I shared options, strategies, and background knowledge needed to build the necessary skills and expertise for achieving the targeted learning outcomes?

Assessment of Learning  (Summative Assessment):

  • What kinds of summative assessments am I using to measure my learners’ learning outcomes? Are there barriers to ?
  • What are the summative assessments measuring and how can that data be used to inform my future instructional design?


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Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step by Sara Dzaman; Derek Fenlon; Julie Maier; and Toni Marchione is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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