Once you have determined the type of assessment to use, you should plan the scope and sequence details of the assessment task. The scope refers to the depth and breadth of content and skills it will cover, while the sequence refers to the order that the students will follow as they undertake the work. In a multiple-choice exam, this will relate to the content you include and the way you group it together, while in a broader assessment task (e.g: a research paper that requires students to construct a response to an open-ended question), it may also include the parameters students should work within and the different elements they will need to include to complete the project.
Below are some important considerations for developing graded assignments.
Scaffold Assessments to Promote Deep Learning
Scaffolding assessments involves breaking down a large, complicated task into smaller, manageable parts or designing a sequence of tasks that gradually increases in complexity.
1The research on learning tells us that students acquire new knowledge by building on existing knowledge. Therefore, when assessments are scaffolded to build on one another, it provides the opportunity for students to progressively practice old skills while learning new skills and content. Central to the concept of scaffolding is the support provided to students from the instructor and/or peers as they work through the assignment sequence. Providing feedback on their work at regular intervals throughout the learning process will help students master each step before proceeding further.
There are a few ways you can scaffold assignments in your course.
1. Use a Process Approach
Tracking the student’s process for a large assignment promotes deeper learning because it provides multiple opportunities for feedback on different aspects of their work. As a result, the quality of student work is sure to improve. This type of scaffolding also helps students get started on complex assignments early and ensures they are on track throughout. As a result, they will be less likely to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the task and less tempted to cut corners.
There are a variety of ways to build a process approach in your assessment. You can ask students to submit evidence of their information gathering and planning, or have staged assessments wherein students submit partially completed work prior to final submission.
Below are two examples of breaking down a writing assessment into several stages: