The educational journey is a cycle of constant improvement, and assessments are learning “checkpoints” that can result in improved outcomes. Consequently, it is important that those checkpoints uphold fairness, accuracy, and trust.
Assessment is oftentimes an intersection that students and educators dread, whether it is a fear of judgment or the workload produced by grading. This stress can result in short-cut solutions that curtail learning. But it is important to see this point as an opportunity to exchange information and clarify the road towards learning. It can be— with the appropriate structures and best practices—a relationship-building milestone for students and educators that models integrity and accuracy.
What are five ways educators can administer assessments with integrity that ultimately support the student educational journey?
Rubrics set expectations for students and help guide instructors towards thoughtful assessment design. When students know how they will be evaluated in advance of assessment, they understand how to demonstrate their knowledge accordingly (Brookhart, 2013). It’s important that rubrics show how learning should occur and operate beyond checklists of “to do” items, but rather focus on quality. For example, as opposed to “the paragraph has a topic sentence” rubrics might state expectations such as “the topic sentence is a clearly stated claim.” Quality-based rubrics let students know what they are supposed to learn, how they will be assessed, and their next steps in learning.
2. Align assessment with instruction
Ensure students are measured on what they’ve been taught so that assessments are an accurate and fair reflection of student learning. Like rubrics, learning objectives and course content ought to be aligned. It’s important to model integrity and fairness in assessment so that students feel supported and trust that instruction is connected to how they will be evaluated.
3. Frequent, low-stakes assessments
Support the entire student educational journey. Frequent, low-stakes assessments provide students with feedback loops that support their learning. Plus, they provide insights so that educators can intervene at appropriate moments. Formative assessments not only provide data to inform learning interventions, “retrieval practice through frequent, low-stakes quizzing is an evidence-based way to embed key concepts and information into long-term memory” (Mintz, Insider Higher Ed, 2021). Finally, providing frequent, low-stakes assessments like homework, in-class assignments, discussion, and quizzes ensure that summative assessments are part of a learning journey and thus, part of end-to-end assessment.
4. Ensure assessments are inclusive and fair
Offer multiple assessment formats to accommodate different learning styles. By providing different ways to demonstrate their learning, assessments become inclusive and fair. Multiple assessment formats can also measure different types of learning, whether deep conceptual knowledge via long answer questions or a wider swath of knowledge via multiple-choice exams. Evaluating different components of student understanding ensures comprehensive and accurate assessment.
5. Item analysis
Just as assessments enable feedback loops for students to understand next steps, they also provide insights that educators can use to inform future exam design and curriculum. Data insights are gained through item analysis, which examines, among other things, questions with which students struggled or answer patterns that indicate student comprehension. Understanding what students learned or haven’t learned is a connection between teaching and learning. It is also a way to support student learning and future assessments so that students aren’t left behind and uphold learning throughout the educational journey.
At Turnitin, our products consider the entire student educational journey and support end-to-end assessment with integrity, from Draft Coach that supports students in real-time as they write to Feedback Studio and Gradescope’s capabilities that provide assessment feedback and student data insights, to summative assessment. Our products are meant to be part of a constant cycle of improvement for both educators and students. Assessments can be a stressful checkpoint, but we hope these principles and our products transform assessments into learning experiences.