At this point, you may have had the opportunity to explore—or perhaps even implement—some of the alternative assessment approaches suggested in this publication. It is the intention of the inter-institutional collaborative group who created this resource that implementing these approaches will allow students the opportunity to be assessed on “real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills” (Mueller, 2016).
You are encouraged to try some of these approaches in your own teaching, however, be aware that alternative assessment may be a new approach for your students as well. They may take some time to acclimate to the notion of an assessment ‘beyond the exam’. Be patient and customize these approaches to fit your context accordingly.
As a conclusion, the authors of this resource have solicited some comments from instructors and students who have engaged with alternative assessment. The following comments are from instructors who have implemented alternative assessment strategies:
I used a group response and comment form of assessment that asked students to form groups, respond to a prompt based in reviewing an online exercise program and then comment on another group who did a different program… This enabled proximal learning and expanded everyone’s online exercise program repertoires. I was able to assess over time (three modules) and the students were able to distribute the workload and expand their knowledge base.
I used a Scavenger Hunt final exam (take home, time limited) where I enlisted the students in the creation of the exam… The students created the questions, the rubric and did the assessment of their peers’ submissions. I assessed the quality of the items and their ability to provide feedback in their assessment of their peers.
I used a ‘show what you know’ take home open book exam. I surveyed the students about the types of questions they preferred and did not prefer and then constructed an exam that had a variety of question formats (MC, matching, short answer, fill in the blanks, long answer, application, analysis). Then I allowed them to choose the questions they preferred as long as the total was 100… The students had less stress and I got to see what they could do when they worked with their preferred formats.
Similarly, we asked students in the above three courses to comment on their experiences with alternative assessments. Here is what they said:
I participated in a group-based review of exercise programs that also required us to comment on another group’s review. We did three of these over three modules. Usually I hate group work, but we were able to take turns with different components of the review and comment and it was more enjoyable to comment on my classmates than I thought. I also found some way cool online programs.
I participated in a Scavenger Hunt take home exam. Students got to create and assess the exams. The prof did all the organizing and assigning of who did who’s exam. It was confusing and there were lots of instructions before I figured it all out, but the overall experience was good for my learning. I had no idea that my classmates would protest their grades and feedback! That part was not fun. Creating the exam and taking someone else’s exam forced me to read the chapters more carefully.
I participated in the ‘show what you know’ open book take-home exam. I wish all my exams could be like this. I loved the choices. It was harder than I expected, but I had time to read and re-read.
These comments indicate that using alternative assessment approaches had a positive benefit to the students’ experiences and their learning. The instructors indicated that setting up the alternative assessments can be more onerous, but once it was done, it could be used in subsequent years or in other courses they teach.
Perhaps you have an alternative assessment that you would like to share with our community. Please consider sharing your own ideas and suggestions by visiting our website and submitting your ideas of effective alternative assessments. They will be reviewed and added to this resource, and in time, we anticipate there to be dozens of additional suggestions for alternative assessments. Please check back regularly for updates.