Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

2-Minute Mentor: Evaluating Student Learning

Evaluating student learning (constructing exams)

  • What should I put on a test?
  • How do I connect tests and course goals?
  • What kinds of assessment demonstrate higher-level learning?

Click below to watch CTE’s 2-Minute Mentor video on this topic:

Evaluating Student Learning video transcript (doc)

Designing assessments

Students can demonstrate what they’ve learned in various ways. Objective test items such as multiple choice questions can be very useful for assessing recall and understanding of facts and principles, but you may want to opt for other types of assessment items when testing a student’s ability to apply, evaluate, or synthesize information or perform a task. Below are three categories of assessment items, as identified by Wiggins and McTighe (2005):


Quiz and Test Items
Multiple choice

Measure recall and comprehension of facts and principles

Typically have one best answer

Easy to score

Essay questions

Measure ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate

Often ill-structured; various answers possible

Require more time to assess; criteria required

Performance Tasks
Produce a product
(e.g., group report)

Apply skills in a context that
simulates professional practice

Measure the ability to apply knowledge and skills in an authentic way

Often long-term and multi-stage

For more information on effective exam construction (e.g., types and number of items to include, format, grading), check out Barbara Gross Davis’ Tools for Teaching (2009), available at CTE’s library.


More about assessing learning

The following links provide more information about assessment practices:

Additional materials are available in CTE’s Essential Guide to Teaching.

These portfolios in the CTE Gallery show examples of effective assessments:

^Back to top^

Support for Fall Flex Teaching!

CTE has created a website for helping faculty create flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online. Visit the Flex Teaching site.