Selecting Appropriate Assessments/Measurements of Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Selecting Appropriate Assessments/Measurements of Learning Objectives/Outcomes


Selecting the appropriate assessments or measurements help faculty ensure that students are achieving the intended learning objectives/outcomes for the course.  


While awareness of Bloom’s taxonomy exists, actually creating and using measurable learning objectives/outcomes can be a bit more challenging.  Some faculty believe that students don’t pay attention to learning objectives/outcomes so why bother including them. However, it’s important for our students to understand the learning process and where they are at in the process.  For effective learning, adult learners (andragogy) need to see the big picture of where they have been, where they are going, and where they are. Additionally, the learning objectives/outcomes help us ensure that our content and assessments scaffolds (guides) students toward them.  Aligning the learning objectives/outcomes with the activities and assessments helps students understand what the course is about and why they are doing what they are doing in the learning process. They see the value of the assessments relative to their mastery of the material.


Measuring/assessing learning objectives/outcomes requires analysis of content and activities/assessments beginning with the end in mind (Backwards design) to identify the intended, measurable objectives/outcomes/competencies/skills, what evidence will demonstrate their mastery/achievement, and aligning the content and assessments with them.

Lower level objectives/outcomes can be measured/assessed using multiple choice questions on a test/quiz, however, higher level requires more complex assessments such as essay questions on a test/quiz, authentic projects, papers, labs, etc.  

Activities/assessments are ideally “mastery” focused (vs. bell curve) with the expectation that all students will achieve the learning objectives/outcomes and feedback is tailored to help them demonstrate this.  

When developing learning objectives/outcomes, we want to ask ourselves what we want students to be able to do or demonstrate.  When developing/using activities/assessments, we want to focus on how to authentically assess their achievement of the learning objectives/outcomes.  

The assessment literature includes both formative and summative types of assessment.  Summative assessment measures learning at a point in time with examples such as a midterm, paper, or final exam.  On the other hand, formative assessment assesses the learning process and provides “just in time” feedback to help students build a foundation for successful summative assessment.  

It can be useful to vary activities/assessments to ensure assessment of the intended learning objectives/outcomes at various levels of Bloom’s and for varied learning styles.

Formative assessment can include the following:

  • Classroom assessment techniques (CATs) such as minute papers, muddiest point, etc.  
  • Self-check activities
  • Self-assessment
  • Peer review
  • Outline or draft paper
  • Multiple attempt “practice” quizzes
  • Collaborative, group activities

Summative assessment can include the following:

  • Chapter quizzes
  • Midterm or final exam
  • Homework assignments, journals, labs, etc.
  • Projects


Map out the alignment with a table such as the following:

Course-level learning objectives Module/unit/chapter-level learning objectives Activities/Assessments


Level: Beginner


Andree, Erica. “ADDIE Instructional Design Model.” EdTech Deck. Northwest Academic Computing Consortium, 05 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

Andree, Erica. “Using Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy to Develop Learning Objectives.” EdTech Deck. Northwest Academic Computing Consortium, 27 June 2014. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

Angelo, Thomas. A. and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty. Ann Arbor: National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, 1993. Print.

“Assessing Online Learning: Strategies, Challenges and Opportunities.” Faculty Focus Special Report. Magna Publications, n.d. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

Pusateri, Thomas, Jane Halonen, Bill Hill, and Maureen McCarthy. The Assessment Cyberguide for Learning Goals and Outcomes. American Psychological Association, 2009. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

“Quality Matters.” Quality Matters. MarylandOnline, 2016. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

“Task Oriented Question Construction Wheel Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.” St. Edward’s University Center for Teaching Excellence. St. Edward’s University, 2004. Web. 30 June 2016. <>.

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