Alternative Assessment

Assessment strategies featured imageIt’s helpful to create assessments that utilize higher order critical thinking skills. Having students analyze, synthesize, or evaluate a situation is generally a better educational experience for students as it requires them to use the knowledge they have gained.

Alternative assessments can often be more effective than standard testing as students must demonstrate their learning through analysis. These types of assessments often result in less cheating as repetitive responses are often more readily detectable. 

Alternative assessments are generally any type of assessment that does not follow a traditional test/quiz model. They can include, but are not limited to:

  • Peer reviews – Students prepare material for a course, such as an essay, case study, research document, or persuasive argument. A student then posts the material for review by the class, allowing for constructive criticism. The original student the adjusts their material and submits for an instructor’s review. Peer reviews can be completed directly in Canvas or can leverage tools like Google Forms. Additionally, groups can be used in peer review situations. Peer reviews do not have to be confined to documents and can take place using video.
  • Case studies – Students are given a situation to analyze with several pointed “why/how” type questions. These questions are used to help students critically analyze the situation, and determine a view or course of action. In case studies, student responses generally vary. 
  • Video projects – Students are assigned (individually or group) a project that must be completed by the use of video. This can be a demonstration, simulation, or another type of activity. Students are able to leverage today’s technology to work collaboratively despite being at a distance. Many tools exist to enable creating and editing video, including YouTube, Vimeo, iMovie, and others.
  • Web projects – Have students use a tool to create a final product. These can be graphical designs, interactive content, infographics, and more.
  • Group collaborations – Students are organized into groups and make use of collaborative technologies, such as Google Docs, to work towards a common goal.

Alternative assessments also meet Universal Design for Learning principles, as their use accomplishes multiple means of expression.

A great resource for assessment strategies is the book, Student engagement techniques: a handbook for college faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley. It contains strategies for both face-to-face and online classes.