Using Rubrics: Learning Through Assessment


Types of assessment: formative and summative; standardized, large-scale, alternative; discrete-point and holistic

Focus on formative assessment for learning

Key to assessment: Clear behavioral objectives, organized step-by-step to lead students to achieve course goals.


Alternative assessment: "Alternative Assessment is any type of assessment in which the student creates his or own answer to a question, perhaps in the form of an essay or drawing, as opposed to choosing from provided responses, as typically seen on multiple-choice tests. Most commonly, alternative assessments include short answer questions, essays, performance assessments, oral presentations, exhibitions, and portfolios." (

Discrete-point test: "Language is divided up so that components of it may be tested. Discrete point tests aim to achieve a high reliability factor by testing a large number of discrete items. From these separated parts, you can form an opinion is which is then applied to language as an entity." (

Formative assessment: "Formative assessment is the gathering of data on student learning during an instructional encounter. It helps the instructor to identify concepts or skills that students are not learning well, and to take steps to improve student learning while the course is still in progress. (Also called classroom assessment.)" (CSULB)

Holistic assessment: "Making a judgment about a student's learning by using an overall appraisal of a student's entire performance, rather than by scoring or analyzing separate dimensions of the performance individually. Used in situations where the demonstration of learning is considered to be more than the sum of its parts, and so the complete final product or performance is evaluated as a whole. The instructor matches his or her overall impressions to pre-defined expectations for learning outcomes and makes a judgment."  (CSULB)  

Large-scale assessment: "Data collection efforts in which large numbers of students are assessed. Results are usually used to compare groups of students in districts, states, and nationally. Assessment results are used to describe the educational status of students, make decisions about individual students, and develop or revise existing local, state, and national policies. These assessments can include the "minimum competency tests" and "graduation exams" that students must pass to receive a high school diploma." (USC)

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. Portfolios may include a variety of demonstrations of learning in the form of papers, projects, videos, web pages, CD-ROMs, journals, etc." (CSULB)  

Rubric: "A description of the standards that will be used to judge a student's work on each of the criteria or important dimensions of learning. It is a scoring guide that is used in subjective appraisals of student work. It makes explicit statements about the expected qualities of performance at each point on a scale or at each rank in an ordered scoring system, for example, excellent, good, fair, poor, unacceptable." (CSULB)  

Standardized test: "A standardized test is a measure of student learning (or other ability) that has been widely used with other students. Standardized scores (e.g., mean, standard deviation, percentiles) have been developed so
that a student taking the test can compare his or her score to the historical data. These are also sometimes called achievement tests. Examples are the SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc."  (CSULB)

Summative assessment: "Summative assessment is the gathering of data on student learning at the conclusion of a course, as a basis for judging student knowledge and skills. It helps the instructor to plan for the next offering of the course."  (CSULB)  


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Last updated 6 September 2015 by D. Healey