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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Implementing Direct Assessment

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Implementing Direct Assessment

Step 1: Define the Purpose of the Assessment: (Outcomes)

  • What knowledge, skill, or attitude am I trying to assess?
  • What should students be able to demonstrate?
  • At what ability level should students be performing?
  • What type of knowledge, skill or attitude is being assessed? Critical analysis and reasoning? Memorization and recall of information? Processes and applications of information? Development of an attitude?

Step 2: Choose the Assessment Measure: (Student produced work)

  • What forms of student performances will you assess?
  • Choose activities or assignments that match the purpose of the assessment.
  • Choose activities or assignments that demonstrate differing levels of ability.

Step 3: Define the Assessment Criteria

  • Identify the overall performance or task to be assessed, and pilot the performance yourself and with your colleagues.
  • If possible, have department faculty think through the important behaviors included in a task.
  • List the important aspects of the performance or product.
  • Try to limit the number of performance criteria, so they can all be observed during a student's performance.
  • Express the performance criteria in terms of observable and measurable student behaviors or product characteristics.
  • Avoid ambiguous words that cloud the meaning of the performance criteria.
  • Arrange the performance criteria in the order in which they are likely to be observed.

Step 4: Create the Scoring Guidelines (rubrics/checklists)

  • Performance-based assessment is generally measured by the degree to which students are successful or unsuccessful rather than right/wrong answers.
  • Scoring guidelines need to take these varying degreesof performance into consideration.
  • The scoring guidelines or rubrics or checklists need to match the language in the assessment criteria and the outcomes.
  • Scoring guidelines or rubrics or checklists generally indicate differing levels of students' success of the assessment criteria

Sample Assessment Scoring Guidelines/Rubrics

Assessment Rubric for Effective College-Level Written Communication

Value Performance Characteristics
1 This essay demonstrates that the student has mastered neither fundamental
research skills nor fundamental writing skills.
2 While general writing skills are satisfactory, this essay demonstrates that the
student has not mastered, has in fact only begun to learn, fundamental
research skills (the student has not found sufficient resources, the student
does not paraphrase nor summarize nor quote correctly, and the student does
not follow an accepted procedure for documentation.
3 While there are some deficiencies, this essay indicates that the student should
be able to write satisfactory papers in other classes. Common problems in
such essays are significant but poorly limited topics, some unreliable sources, an argument that is worthwhile making but not consistently logical nor organized nor developed, an understanding of an accepted procedure for documentation such as MLA but problems in its use, and enough errors in mechanics to interrupt the reading.
4 While not perfect, this essay demonstrates unquestionably that the student has mastered the skills taught in English 101. The topic is significant, its development is specific and authoritative and conclusive and authoritatively documented, the discussion is logical and orderly, and the language is appropriate, clear and correct.

Assessment Rubric for Identifying Ways to Exercise Citizenship
Rights and Responsibilities

Value Performance Characteristics
1 Student can identify one way to exercise a right or responsibility of citizenship
2 Student can describe one way to exercise a right or responsibility of citizenship
3 Student can describe at least two ways to exercise a right and a responsibility of citizenship
4 Student can describe more than two ways to exercise at least two rights and responsibilities of citizenship
Information adapted from:
Brualdi, Amy (1998). Implementing Performance Assessment in the Classroom. Practical Assessment, Research &Evaluation, 6(2). Available online: