Glossary of Some Assessment Terms

Affective Domain: Outcomes of education involving feelings more than understanding; likes, pleasures ideals and/or values.

Assessment: The Latin root assidere means to sit beside. In an educational context, the process of observing learning; describing, collecting, recording, scoring, and interpreting information about a student’s or one’s own learning. At its most useful, assessment is an episode in the learning process; part of reflection and autobiographical understanding of progress. Traditionally, student assessments are used to determine achievement of learning objectives and grades.

Authentic Assessment: Assessment strategies that require students to directly reveal their ability to think critically and to apply and synthesize their knowledge.

Cognitive Domain: Outcomes of education involving thinking and content knowledge, logic, classification and problem solving.

Evaluation: Both qualitative and quantitative descriptions of student behavior, plus value judgments concerning the desirability of that behavior. Using collected information (assessments) to make informed decisions about continued instruction, programs, and activities.

Formative Assessment: Observations which allow one to determine the degree to which students know or are able to do a given learning task, and which identifies the part of the task that the student does not know or is unable to do. Outcomes suggest future steps for teaching and learning.

Learning Goal: See Learning Objective

Learning Objective: What you want students to know and understand after they complete a learning experience, usually a culminating activity, product, or performance that can be measured.

Metacognition: The knowledge of one’s own thinking processes and strategies, and the ability to consciously reflect and act on the knowledge of cognition to modify those processes and strategies.

Performance Assessment: See Authentic Assessment.

Portfolio: A systematic and organized collection of a student’s work that exhibits to others the direct evidence of a student’s efforts, achievements, and progress over a period of time. The collection may involve the student in the selection of its contents, and should include information about the performance criteria, the rubric or criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection or evaluation. It should include representative work, providing a documentation of the students’ performance and a basis for evaluation of the student’s progress. Portfolios may include a variety of demonstrations of learning and have been gathered in the form of a physical collection of materials, videos, CD-ROMs, reflective journals, etc.

Rubric: In general a rubric is a scoring guide used in subjective assessments. A rubric implies that a rule defining the criteria of an assessment system is followed in evaluation. A rubric can be an explicit description of performance characteristics corresponding to a point on a rating scale. A scoring rubric makes explicit expected qualities of performance on a rating scale or the definition of a single scoring point on a scale.

Summative Assessment: Evaluation at the conclusion of a unit or units of instruction, or an activity or plan to determine or judge student skills and knowledge. Also an evaluation of the effectiveness of a plan or activity.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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