To choose the right assessment, it’s important to know what questions you are trying to answer. Equally important is knowing *how* the assessment will get to those answers. From in-the-moment verbal feedback to technology-enhanced test items, modern assessment leverages a wide variety of techniques to surface evidence of student learning.
Personal Communication – asking targeted questions, using indicators or signals in class to promote continuous feedback during instruction. Examples include questions, conferences and interviews.
Selected Response – a common method that asks the student to identify a correct answer from a set of answers or provide the answer based upon partial information. These questions can help quickly identify triggers that may be causing a student trouble. Examples include multiple choice, true/false, matching and fill in the blank questions.
Written Response – posing a question that requires a more detailed response from the student. Many times these types of questions can help you identify whether a student understands a text or can craft an argument based upon logic and observation of a situation.
Performance Tasks – a newer technique that has become popularized in Europe and has been incorporated into the Common Core State Standards, performance tasks require students assemble a portfolio of work on a given topic and present their findings to the class. Ultimately, the student is graded upon the content of their work, as well as the delivery.
Technology Enhanced Items – computer-based assessments are leveraging modern technology to build questions that encourage student interaction and engagement. A common example would be the use of visual manipulatives and tools, such as animated rulers or protractors, to measure the width of polygon or the vertex of an angle.
Choosing an assessment method has an important bearing on the type of information that you are trying to surface. Each type of assessment method is good at gathering evidence of particular skills or knowledge. For example, multiple choice questions are good at identifying if a student understands facts and concepts. On the other hand, written response questions are good ways to gauge if students can identify relationships and solve problems.