Effective assessment is inseparable from good teaching and learning. Just as a good facilitator would use more than one method of teaching, a program or a course would normally employ more than one method of assessment. An assessment plan lays out a well thought out selection of assessment methods that are aligned to the elements of performance and outcomes of the course or program can be facilitated in a number of ways.

To decide which assessment fits best, consider:

  1. What do I want the students to know, do, and be?
  2. What is acceptable evidence to show that students have achieved those outcomes?
  3. What experiences will help students to demonstrate their achievement of those outcomes?

From: Drake, S. (2007). Creating Standards-Based Integrated Curriculum: Aligning curriculum, content, assessment, and instruction. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin – page 8.

These questions will help you to choose an assessment task that is aligned with the outcomes students will be performing in the course.

Have a look at these examples from courses:

Outcome: Develop a business plan for a small business.

Assessment: Students write a business plan for a specific business.

Outcome: Apply conflict resolution strategies in a variety of settings.

Assessment: Students demonstrate strategies during a series of simulations in class.

Outcome: Critically analyze situations that lead to the perpetration of fraud.

Assessment: Students examine case studies and present their analysis.

As often as possible, you should select an authentic assessment task. That is, the task students perform in the course should:
•    Directly measure students’ performance of an outcome
•    Relate to specific vocational skills
•    Reflect current practices in the industry/field

For help developing assessments that support your curriculum goals, contact a Teaching & Learning Facilitator at

For help developing and integrating assessments into Blackboard, contact a Learning Technology Facilitators at

Below you will find various options to consider when creating assessments. 


You can create individual or group journal assignments and can optionally enable rubrics and grading. Some tips include making the journal entry an assignment and documenting the due date in the learning management system (Blackboard). Attaching a grade to the journal assignment will encourage completion. Using a minimum three-point scale will help prevent students from simply writing one-line responses.

Journal assignment examples:

  • In the first class have students write a definition(s) of key term(s), at course midpoint have students review, reflect and annotate/edit their definitions, you could also repeat at the end of the course
  • have students reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes as they progress through the course
  • at the end of lectures, have students summarize or reflect upon what they thought were the most important points
  • have students describe challenges faced and how they solved them
  • create and assign instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature
  • have students document or reflect on placement/work integrated learning experiences
  • have students work in small groups to make lists in their journals of the citations from an article
  • have students consider how an article, event, legislation, may impact their hometown/culture
  • visualize two or three articles by drawing concept maps in their journals

To learn more about how to create a journal in Blackboard, click here.  


A rubric can be used to inform students of assessment expectations and may also be used as a scoring tool to evaluate graded work in Blackboard.  The goal is to provide a clear description(s) of the work at varying levels of performance. When you allow students access to rubrics before they complete their work, you provide transparency into your grading methods. Students can use the rubric to organize their efforts to meet the requirements of the graded work.

To learn more, watch the below video: Creating Meaningful Rubrics (13 minutes) or review the steps below the video.


When to use a rubric? Rubrics are often used for Subjective Assignments. Higher order Bloom’s Taxonomy such as Apply / Analyze / Evaluate / Create – Examine, Compare, Justify, Compose and Investigate.  The evaluation of these types of assignments are inherently subjective as there are many factors to be considered, or criteria that make up a comprehensive answer. Review the action verbs in your current assessments.

Steps to Design a Rubric

Step 1: Identify your learning outcome-consider your action verb. (Blooms taxonomy verb wheel)

Step 2: Choose your type of rubric including: Analytic vs Holistic an Points vs Point Range.

Analytic Rubric – Each criterion (action, dimension) is evaluated separately, and assigned different degrees of quality. This is the most common form of a rubric. Advantages of this type of rubric are it provides useful feedback on areas of strength and weakness. Criterion can be weighted to reflect the relative importance of each dimension. The main disadvantages is it takes more time to create and use than a holistic rubric.

Below is a sample:

Holistic Rubric – Consists of a single scale with all criteria to be included in the evaluation being considered together (e.g., clarity, organization, and mechanics). The main advantage of a holistic rubric is it saves time by minimizing the number of decisions raters make. Disadvantages are it does not provide specific feedback for improvement. When student work is at varying levels spanning the criteria points it can be difficult to select the single best description. Criteria cannot be weighted.

Below is a sample:


Only one point/percent option provided for each level.

Point/ Percent Range:

A range of point/percent values provided for each level.

Step 3: Identify the levels and criteria by considering your idea of the perfect submission.

Common to both types of rubrics is a levelling system. Some examples include:

  • Needs improvement, Satisfactory, Good, Exemplary
  • Beginning, Developing , Accomplished, Exemplary
  • Needs Improvement, Proficient, Exceeds

Some rubrics use general criterion. Some examples include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Content
  • Writing mechanics
  • Visuals

Using specific criterion allows you to align your rubric criteria to the course learning outcomes in your assessment. You could also use specific questions from your assessment to build your criterion. See example below:

  • Summarize the importance of recent contributions to the field of modern genetics. 
  • Discuss how the condition is inherited. Remember to comment on dominance, recessivity, sex-linkage. 

Step 4: Develop or adopt/adapt an existing rubric.

You can review and edit existing rubrics. Or create a  new one for the assessment. You can create a PDF or your rubric to share in your course. 

Step 5: Share the rubric with students. Your options include:

  • Adding the PDF to the assessment folder as a guide for students to follow
  • Adding the PDF to the Assessment when you create it in the assessment folder of Blackboard. Click here to learn more.
  • To create efficiency and provide feedback during grading, you can integrate/build your rubric in Blackboard. Click here to learn more.