Assessment is one of the four pieces of the the Fearless Teaching Framework. Learn more about the other pieces: Content, Climate, and Teaching Practices

Learning assessment practices are most productive when they are valid, reliable measures of stated learning outcomes. Assessment structures promote learning when they provide time for feedback and growth, and include a number of different methods of understanding student mastery. Transparent, attainable expectations help students believe that success is possible and can motivate them to devote higher levels of effort.

Feedback, when given at the right time and in an manner appropriate to the students’ learning and development, can have a powerful impact on student achievement (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Effective feedback is not praise or the correct answer to a problem which the student failed to answer. Instead, effective feedback is prompt and specifically related to a goal or problem (Chickering & Gamson, 1987Kilgo, Culver, Young, & Paulsen, 2017). Fearless teachers ground feedback in the students’ prior knowledge to assist them in developing a better strategy for conceptualizing the problem or accomplishing a task.

Fair Assessment Strategies: Before Fearless teachers create assessments, they clarify what they want students to learn, and then design assessments that will measure the students' performance (Wiggins, 2011). Assessments that closely mirror the classroom process of teaching and learning are more valid measures of what students have learned in the class (Pellegrino, DiBello, & Goldman, 2016).

Clear Rubrics: 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. Fearless teachers construct assessments with learning objectives in mind and then work backwards to design a rubric and an assessment scructure that align with the obectives. To assess your rubrics and assessments follow along with this presentation developed by San Diego State University.

Extrinsic Motivation drives students to achieve course expectations with external incentives such as grades, prestige, and the respect of authority figures. Fearless teachers can use these external incentives to motivate students to change their behavior to be more productive, thus helping them develop life-long achievement strategies and self-efficacy (Bain, 2004). For example, teachers should provide clear assignments and grading structures that motivate students to work towards the grade they want. Students are more in control of the grade they earn when they can compare their effort and output against a detailed grading rubric and realistic test grades (i.e. test grading without a curve) (Middleton, 1995). Learn more here:

Incentives: Clear assessment expectations and rubrics clarify what students need to do to be successful in the course. Expectancy-Value Theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000) observes that learners who believe they can be successful (i.e., have a strong sense of self-efficacy) in activities that are relevant to achieving their goals will be more motivated to pursue those activities than when students perceive that they will fail, or see the activity as a waste of time. Fearless teachers clarify to students the assessment and scoring structures so that students can see what they need to do to be successful and are incentivized to meet instructor expectations. 



  • TLTC Workshop on Developing Rubrics.
  • See how your course's learning objectives fit with the Campus Student Learning Outcomes, including critical thinking and research skills, written and oral communication, science and quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and technological fluency.


  • Learn more about how students can assess your teaching:  Saroyan, A., & Amundsen, C. (2001). Evaluating University Teaching: time to take stock. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 26(4), 341–353.
  • Pellegrino, J. W., DiBello, L. V., & Goldman, S. R. (2016). A Framework for Conceptualizing and Evaluating the Validity of Instructionally Relevant Assessments. Educational Psychologist, 51(1), 59-81.
  • Wigfield, A. & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68-81.
Back to Top