Getting More Out Of Assessment

Tests and Quizzes.

The first thing anyone thinks when you say the word assessment is tests and quizzes. If you want to figure out how much your students know, just give them a list of questions to answer right? Gets the job done easy. But there’s a problem with that.

Tests and quizzes might be an easy way to test SOME kinds of knowledge, but they rarely give every student a fair shot to show what they know. It can be difficult to create a test that accurately assesses understanding, and even so, many students who may understand the content may do poorly on the test simply because of the format.

Traditional tests may work in some contexts, but they leave behind some of the most dynamic aspects of assessment.

Engaging Alternatives

One of my favorite ways to assess learning is to have the kids create something that shows what they know.

They could make something like a board game or interactive activity to play as a class,


Or a visual presentation on their research,


Or even a diorama detailing the erosion and formation of a stream bed


The point is, it can be almost anything as long as it allows students to show you what they know, and use the knowledge they’ve gained to create something valuable. Kids will see the value in a project like these rather than a test, and many students will be more likely to achieve success. The trick is to make sure that you’ve also got an effective rubric that students can use to make sure they are meeting the requirements.

This is a rubric that could be used to assess the diorama project.

Erosion Diorama Rubric

Rutgers University. (n.d.). Erosion Diorama Rubric. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from


  1. Hello Peter,
    You are right in saying that giving tests and quizzes to students may be easy and work somethimes, but it fails to work many other times because of the fact that many might not understand the format or what you are after. I like the interactive game and erosion project. They are pretty good ways to assess students. I also love your Albert Einstein quote. That is the most important to me and , in my opinion, the field of education. If you give a student a test in which they do not understand what is being asked or cannot do it in that way, they most likely are going to fail, and this will give unreliable results because they could have done well when assessed a different way. I will keep this in mind in field. Great Post! What are your specific suggestions for a biology and chemistry classroom? I know your degree is in those things. Also, what do you think about IQ tests? They seems to have the same problems to a degree, I think. Everyone has different types of intelligences!

    Delaina 🙂

    • Thanks Delaina! I think we are becoming increasingly aware that measures like IQ don’t always match up to real-world intelligence. I think in some cases it can be a useful tool, but it should always be considered along with other assessments.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.