aerial photo of the Graduate School building

Assessment Instruments and Methods

Direct Assessment

Requires students to demonstrate knowledge
Provides the data that directly measures achievement of expected outcomes
Course Level
Exams and quizzes
Term papers and reports
Research projects
Observations of field work
Artistic performances and product development
Program Level
Capstone projects, senior theses, exhibits or performances
Pass rates or scores on licensure, certification or subject area tests
Student publications or conference presentations
Employer, Co-op and internship supervisor ratings of student performance
Institutional Level
Performance on tests of writing, critical thinking or general knowledge
Explicit self-reflections on what students have learned related to institutional programs

Indirect Assessment

Easy to administer
Asks student to reflect on their learning
Provides clues about what could be assessed directly
Course Level
Course evaluations
Percent of class time spent in active learning
Student hours spent on service learning, homework and activities related to the course
Grades that are not based on explicit criteria
Program Level
Focus group interviews
Course enrollment information
Department or program review data
Job placement
Employer or alumni surveys
Student perception surveys
Graduate school placement rates
Institutional Level
Surveys of student perceptions or self-report of activities
Studies that examine patterns and trends of course selection and grading
Annual reports that include institutional benchmarks

Why Use Rubrics?

Rubrics are typically used with assessments that are subjective rather than objective, such as presentations and term papers.

  1. Rubrics make the instructor’s expectations clear to the students.
  2. Rubrics help the students evaluate their own work.
  3. Rubrics show the students how to meet the instructor’s expectations.
  4. Rubrics can reduce the time it takes to grade work.
  5. Rubrics promote consistency and objectivity in grading work.