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Femal instructor with her hair pulled back in a ponytail writes notes on a chalkboard as she teaches a class.

Assessment Structure

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.

Effective Structures For Assessment Chart

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:

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