Assessment Glossary


When the complexity of content is at the same level for: the curriculum, the instruction and the assessment.


Evidence of student learning

Authentic Assessment

Asking the learner to demonstrate their knowledge in a “real world” scenario. An example might be to “parallel park the car” as opposed to asking the learner to describe what is involved in parallel parking.


Cognitive Assessment

These are tasks that assess cognitive ability such as memory, problem solving and other intellectual functioning. Traditional exams and essays are examples of cognitive assessments.

(see also “Authentic Assessment”).


WHAT we plan on teaching



This relates to the ability to differentiate between marks/grades. If one learner got 2/3 and another got 2.5/3 on an item can we articulate why? If not, then the item lacks effectiveness.


Formal Assessment

Assessment in which a mark is allocated, as opposed to simply providing feedback about a learner’s progress.

Formative Assessment

Feedback to the learner about his or her progress throughout the course (i.e. not at the end of the learning).

See also “Summative Assessment”.


Informal Assessment

No marks are given – feedback is provided on the learner’s progress – can be done individually or as a group/class.


HOW we teach the curriculum


These are often referred to as exam “questions” but technically, an item on an exam is not always a question. Consider the following example:

Provide the definitions for the following terms: (this is not a “question”)



This term relates to validity. While validity refers to accuracy of an assessment, reliability suggests that that assessment will ALWAYS give us the same results. When you go to the gas station and put 25 litres of gas in your car today, do you trust that it is the same amount as when you filled it with 25 litres last week? Then the measurement of 25 litres is a reliable measurement.

When we are building a well-aligned course our assessment strategies must be reliable as well as valid.


Summative Assessment

Assessment that provides a mark (or a decision – e.g. pass/fail) at the end of the learning.

(See also “Formative Assessment).



An assessment is valid when what we are attempting to measure is ACTUALLY what we are measuring. For example, when our doctor uses a blood pressure monitor on our arm and determines whether we have high, low or normal blood pressure, he or she (and we!) trust that test to be valid – it gives a true and accurate measurement of our blood pressure. If it gave a different reading each time, then we would say the results of that instrument are invalid.

Validity relates to reliability. When we are building a well-aligned course our assessment strategies must be valid as well as reliable.


Starting Week 7

I am now deep in the EDUC 4151 course but I can also see that the end is in sight.  I really enjoyed the unit on Community, but the topic of Assessment also interests me.  When I took the Assessment course in the PIDP program, I loved learning about the different considerations when building assessment instruments and the different types of instruments that are available.  The concept of alignment was new to me then, but it makes sense that the curriculum, instruction, and assessment should all be closely aligned.  I also enjoyed learning about validity and reliability – though they are both related concepts, they emphasize slightly different aspects of effective assessment tools.

I am currently working my way through the readings from the Assessment unit and I hope to start working on my activity this evening.  It sounds like a great activity that will be applicable to the EDUC 4152 course as well as my own teaching.

Online Community-Building

Below is a list of practices I would like to incorporate into future online courses in order to build a stronger learning community.  This list represents practices that are currently not part of my online courses.

– Ask colleagues to test my course website prior to launch and assess ease of navigation and function of technology.

– Include ice-breaking activities beyond the basic biography forum.

– Provide students with information about institutional and other resources.

– Include a general netiquette document in the first week of the course.

– Include guidelines for participation determined by students.

– Add a social Water Cooler discussion area.

– Incorporate more opportunities for synchronous communication, including office hours.

– Use weekly videos to update students about the course.

– Incorporate a formative survey partway through each course.

– Use more Screencasts to explain difficult or visual concepts.

– Add some flexibility in assignments.

– Account for gender differences when building the course activities.

– Include guidelines for ethical standards in the course.