Assessment design best practice

Assessment Design Best Practice

CTLI’s website ( is a great overall resource that is both practical and evidence based. The blog posts and teaching toolkits found on the site offer many resources and can be searched by theme. The list below presents resources in the form of easy-to-implement quick tips for improving your online and blended course design and instruction.


Lethbridge College’s Learning Experience Design and Educational Development teams stay on top of current research and best practice in teaching and learning. Below you will find a summary of key takeaways from current research. A link to an annotated bibliography follows for those who’d like to look more deeply into the research.

Key Takeaways for Assessment Design

  • Assessments should be valid, reliable, and fair for all students.
  • Assessments should not only measure learning, but also enhance learning.
  • Good assessments are clear and transparent to learners.
  • Assessments need to align directly with course outcomes and course content.
  • Traditional exam questions and essays may unintentionally test students on their ability to complete such assessments and/or may fail to assess deeper levels of learning. Authentic or alternative assessments allow students to demonstrate what they can do rather than what they know.
  • Individual students have different skills, interests, and backgrounds, so it’s important to create assessments and choices that allow everyone to succeed.
  • Students need to be provided with equivalent, rather than identical, opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

Key Takeaways for Measuring the Impact of Lesson Design and Instruction

(formative assessment)
  • Regular formative assessment is key to measuring student learning
  • Student evaluations are important, but provide a limited view of instructional effectiveness
  • Using multiple methods of assessment and evaluation will help instructor develop a reliable and valid sense of the impact of their instruction and learning design (e.g., formative assessment, student feedback, teacher reflection, and peer-feedback)

Key Takeaways for Online Assessment Design

  •  Online assessments can and should be designed to be varied, rigorous, and valuable for students.
  •  A potential benefit of online assessment is the ability to provide timely (and even instant), detailed feedback in a variety of different formats.
  • Online assessments can be more flexible and accessible to a larger number of students.
  • There may be increased risk of academic integrity breaches in online assessments, but using varied, authentic approaches that ask students to exhibit their learning process as well as their knowledge can mitigate this risk.
  • Online proctoring is not the only or best option to mitigate concerns about academic integrity


Bayraktar, B. (2020, July 14). Tips: Specs grading. Tips for Teaching Professors.

Bergquist, E., & Holbeck, R. (2013, September 23). Using classroom assessment techniques: A proactive approach for online learning. Faculty Focus.

Brown, B. (2019, May 15). One-take productions for student feedback. EdCan Network.

Caldwell, J. (2021, May 11). Effectively moving away from traditional proctored exams in first-year physics courses. BCcampus.

CATL UWL. (2018, April 26). Seven strategies for using formative assessments in online learning [Video]. YouTube.

Dyer, K. (2019, January 17). 27 easy formative assessment strategies for gathering evidence of student learning. NWEA.

Flynn, A., & Kerr, J. (2020, May 18). Assessment and academic integrity. In Remote teaching: A practical guide with tools, tips, and techniques. Open Library Pressbooks.

Miller, A. (2020, April 7). Formative assessment in distance learning.

Munro, T. (2020, July 14). Building on learning science I created an assessment menu for my students. Here’s how it went. Connecting with Science.

Ryerson University. (2018). Best practices: Alternative assessments [PDF file]. resources/assessment/alternative-assessments.pdf

University of Calgary. (2021). Online assessment in higher education.

Victoria State Government. (n.d.). Evaluate the impact of your teaching.

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