North Central College - Naperville, IL

Assessment Resources

Below, find resources, ideas, and advice for creating and using a variety of assessments to evaluate and develop student learning.


NCC Consultant: Jon Mueller - Jon is able and willing to consult with you on all topics related to developing or revising outcomes, assessments, or rubrics.




Summative Assessment

Formative Assessment





= video resource



INTRODUCTION: "Course-based review and assessment" - This detailed handbook will provide you with a good overview of the purposes and practices of assessment at the course level.

"Top ten tips for assessing student performance" - from The Center for Teaching and Faculty Development at San Francisco State University


Summative Assessments

Summative assessments: Called assessments OF learning, these are measures of student performance administered or assigned as a summary assessment of whether or not students have met the outcomes for that chapter, or unit, or section of a course. Most of the papers and tests and projects instructors assign are summative assessments, designed to give teachers a good picture of how well students have learned the concepts and skills outlined in the course outcomes.

Types of summative assessments - This page lists a large number of possible types of assessments (with links to examples of each) under the categories of selected response, constructed response, product, and performance assessments.

Examples - From the same site, here are many examples of summative assessments and accompanying rubrics for many topics across the K-16 spectrum.

Authentic versus traditional assessments - This site about authentic assessment describes the differences between authentic assessments, which are designed to capture meaningful application of knowledge and skills, and traditional assessments, particularly objective or forced-choice tests, which are primarily designed to capture students knowledge and comprehension of course material.

Why use authentic assessments? - From the same site, here is a description of the rationale for choosing authentic forms of assessment over traditional assessment for certain purposes.

How do you create authentic assessments? - Again, from the same site, here is a four-step process for creating good authentic assessments.

Designing Essay Assessments - good set of advice from The Harvard Writing Project



Concept Maps

Concept maps as assessment tools - good article

Examples of use of concept mapping for instruction and assessment

NCC Faculty: Jon Mueller: Social Psychology - In the past, I (Jon Mueller) asked my students to graphically describe the relationship between eight or more concepts in relation to some theme. For example, in the first concept map assignment students drew a map describing the relationship between three social motives (social comparison, consistency and control) and related concepts (e.g., relative deprivation, insufficient justification, reactance, unrealistic optimism) we discussed as they connect to an event of their choosing. On my essay tests I ask short questions that require students to connect two or three concepts together. But the map allows me to see them connect significantly more concepts in a more complex manner. In Fall 2002 when I first assigned concept maps the students struggled with the first map because they (and I) did not quite know what they should be doing. In Spring 2003 I shared a couple maps from the Fall, and I received a much better collection of maps. The first map was completed in pairs; some of the remaining maps will be completed individually and others in pairs.  

Concept map rubric

Concept Map Assignment 1
Concept Map Assignment 2
Concept Map Assignment 3
Concept Map Assignment 4
Concept Map Assignment 5

Geoscience courses


Assessing Writing

Developing writing assignments

"Checklist for designing writing assignments"

"Suggestions for designing effective formal writing assignments"

Evaluating writing assignments




INTRODUCTION: Rubrics - An overview of what rubrics typically look like and how they are used

Creating a rubric - Takes you through all the questions to consider when constructing a rubric

Analytic versus holistic rubrics - describes the two types of rubrics and when to use each

EXAMPLES: A large collection of assessments and accompanying rubrics for K-12 and college subjects

EXAMPLES: An even larger collection - Over 15,000 rubrics for undergraduate courses are listed here. The quality is uneven, but you are able to search by subject and type of assessment.

CLICK HERE for many more examples of specific rubrics


Constructing Good Tests

Deciding what to assess

Good advice for creating multiple-choice and essay tests - from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan

Multiple-choice tests/items

Constructing good multiple-choice items/tests

Detailed guide to writing multiple-choice exams

Rules for writing multiple-choice items

Assessing higher order thinking with multiple-choice items

More examples of higher-order items

Compare two forms of a test, one that assesses lower-level thinking and one that assesses higher-level thinking. See how they differ.

History test examples

Nursing test examples

Item analysis - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas-Austin

True/False items

Guidelines - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas-Austin

Matching items

Guidelines - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas-Austin

Short answer/completion items

Guidelines - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas-Austin

Essay tests/items

Improving Essay Tests

Guidelines - from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas-Austin


Formative Assessments

Formative assessments: Called assessments FOR learning, these are checks for understanding that instructors administer during the process of instruction and learning to inform instructors and students how well they are grasping the material as it is being taught. Formative assessments can be as informal as surveying the faces of the students to see if they are confused or not. Additionally, a brief quiz, a few questions for the class to respond to or consider, a one-minute paper (see below), or practice problems completed in pairs are just a few of the many forms of formative assessment. As a result of the information gathered in these checks, instructors can adjust their instruction and students can adjust their learning or studying strategies.

U.S. History formative assessments and rubrics - "Beyond the Bubble unlocks the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress to create a new generation of history assessments. Developed by the Stanford History Education Group (, Beyond the Bubble is the cornerstone of SHEG’s membership in the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources Educational Consortium. We 'go beyond the bubble' by offering easy-to-use assessments that capture students’ knowledge in action – rather than their recall of discrete facts."

Focused listing activity - To see if students were able to identify the main ideas from that day's class


Generating student participation - presenter illustrates two specific low-tech, low-risk strategies that encourage student participation while serving as formative assessments of their current understanding

The "muddiest point" technique - Find out what your students are most confused about at the end of a class, and use their responses in a variety of ways

Concept maps as formative assessments - "At the beginning of an Introductory Meteorology unit on Moisture in the Atmosphere the instructor passes out copies of a concept map to her students. The major concepts are identified, but detail is missing. As the unit progresses the instructor asks students to add to the original concept map. For example the students could add:

* the types of reservoirs that occur on land
* different types of precipitation
* additional mechanisms such as transpiration

As the unit progresses the students continue to see the major concepts repeatedly, and the instructor can track student understandings of the relationships of parts to the whole (or misconceptions) as they arise by collecting and reviewing the concept maps."


ConcepTests - multiple-choice questions designed to be used as formative assessments in physics to check for student understanding during class and to encourage meaningful learning of concepts

ConcepTest items for chemistry






What, why, and how - This page describes the common characteristics and purposes of portfolios and how to create and use them.

Learning portfolios at the college level - more of what, why, and how to use portfolios to capture student learning and to promote meaningful reflection - IDEA Paper 44 - from The IDEA Center

Electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) - a description of how a number of colleges are using e-portfolios to assess student learning



Alternative model for grading: Using "specs" - some interesting suggestions from Linda Nilson




Have a link to good resources on assessment?  Please e-mail the Center.