Let’s Assess Assessments

When students hear “test” or “quiz”, they automatically assume the worst.  They think about extended response questions or multiple choice scantron handouts.  What I want to do as a future teacher is to clear the air of that negative connotation.  Assessments are a way to see student’s knowledge of a new concept that you are teaching by giving them a formative or summative assignment.  As science teachers, we can revolutionize how we assess students by finding new, creative ways to display their knowledge!

Games as Assessments

Mentioned in The Science Teacher Journal “Spicing Up Your Classroom,” it was said that “(games) also have the potential to challenge and assess students’ understanding of content.”

There are so many different ways to assess your student’s knowledge on what you’ve taught them:  posters, skits, website design, songs, mobiles, models, and (what I’m going to talk about) creating games.

A good strategy that works well that was mentioned in “Spicing Up Your Classroom” was the adaptation of existing games into an assessment.  An example they used was Taboo.  Another game that could be used is Sorry, Catan, or Life.

In the following video, there are examples of what teachers and students collaborate together to create and play these games that were made into assessments. You can see the different thought processes and hard work that students put into making these effective games.

Rubric for creating a cell organelle game

Accommodations for ELL students

Make sure the font is clear and have instructions/rubric straightforward and brief.  Provide pictures and examples for them to understand the process of game creation.  Pair them with native speaking students.

Accommodations for students with visual impairments

Pair students with non-visually impaired classmates.  Give clear verbal instructions for the game creating process.  Provide enlarged rubric with larger text so it can be seen better.


  1. Michael,
    Great post!! I really like how you used an article that mentions games as a form of assessment! This will really get the students engaged, and maybe even excited to be assessed, which is usually not the case! I am not a good test taker at all, so I am not going to assume that my students are either. I would have loved all of these alternative assessment strategies in high school! It’s appreciated by more students than you would think! Do you believe that a classroom without tests at all would be possible in a high school biology classroom? Do you think students would get just as much out of having all alternative assessment strategies? Any downfalls?
    Great post!

    • Thank you Katie! In all honesty, I think it is very possible to have a biology classroom without tests at all. There are just a variety of ways to assess students on their knowledge that I believe tests could be easily avoided if wanted. I think students would get just as much out of these alternative assessments, if not more! Some downfalls could be that students don’t follow the instructions carefully and that it may take time for me as a teacher to grade these assessments.

  2. Great post Michael! I really like the idea of using a game as a way to assess students. I remember playing a few games in my high school Biology class and it was such a fun and informative way to work with the material. Do you think that using games would make it harder or easier for you as a teacher to gauge student understanding?

    • Thank you Margaux! I feel like games are a good way to get kids thinking more critically and creatively. It truly is a formative and informative way to evaluate students! I think depending how I set up a rubric for grading games, it could be more difficult for me to grade and gauge student’s understanding. I feel like the displaying of knowledge for students will vary and understanding their understanding is something I need to get better at as a future teacher.

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