Best practices - assessment

The information on these Best Practices pages comes from the State of California Online Educational Initiative (OEI) Peer Online Course Review (POCR) rubric, as well as information from SRJC's Distance Education Department regarding best practices, and SRJC Board Policy.


Assessment focuses on instructional activities designed to measure progress towards learning outcomes, provide feedback to students and instructor, and/or enable grade assignment. This section addresses the quality and type of student assessments within the course.


Course Review Rubric

Tips and Best Practices

Assessments match the objectives

Align your learning activities to your objectives and outcomes. Use your objectives and outcomes to determine appropriate assessments.

Learners are directed to the appropriate objective(s) for each assessment


Rubrics or descriptive criteria for desired outcomes are provided (models of “good work” may be shown, for example)

Rubrics: Provide rubrics to inform students of criteria for non-objective tests and assignments. Rubrics let students know exactly how you will grade their work and take the subjectivity out of grading. Develop rubrics for individual assignments, or develop a generic rubric that applies to all assignments. Rubrics can be useful for most assignments, including essays, discussion board posts, reading responses, peer editing activities, and group projects.

Models: Provide models of effective responses to assignments such as reading responses, peer editing, essays, and exam questions (formatted as .pdf files, or as content on separate Web pages). Models allow students to better understand the differences between quality and non-quality work. However, when using model assignments from former students, first obtain their permission in writing.

Instructions are written clearly and with sufficient detail to ensure understanding



Course Review Rubric

Tips and Best Practices

Assessment activities have “face validity” (i.e., they appear to match the curriculum and are explained using appropriate reading level and vocabulary)


Higher order thinking is required (e.g., analysis, problem-solving, etc.)

Access Prior Knowledge: Connect what the students already know about the topic to what they are going to learn. Provide activities that allow students to measure prerequisite skills, assess that learning is taking place, and apply knowledge or skills presented. Recalling prior knowledge will help provide a context for the students and get them excited about the learning tasks ahead of them.

Assessments are designed to mimic authentic environments to facilitate transfer

Consider the kinds of skills one would need to succeed in the workplace in this field and make sure that assessments evaluate proficiency with those skills. If the course is part of a transfer pattern, make sure that students are assessed in the areas of knowledge that they will need to have in order to succeed in the subsequent course(s).

Assessment activities occur frequently throughout the duration of the course, and the instructor provides meaningful feedback in a timely manner


Multiple types of assessments are used (research project, objective test, discussions, etc.)


Opportunities for student self-assessment are plentiful, and provide feedback that allows students to seek additional help when necessary.

In some cases, publisher resources can be a good place to find self-assessment tools such as flash cards and self-study quizzes. You may also consider offering advice about how to study for exams and how to determine whether or not a student is prepared. For example, it may be helpful for students to review a "key terms" section at the end of a chapter and evaluate whether or not they would be comfortable defining each term.