Centre for Teaching and Learning

Centre for Teaching and Learning
Centre for Teaching and Learning

Assessment Strategies IconAssessment Strategies Guide

Assessment directs students’ focus and attention, and so it’s a critical feature of any course. This guide is focused on flexible and adaptable options for course assessment, supporting you to make quick but informative decisions on how to assess student performance.


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Essential Principles

Assessments should, above all, be designed with intended learning outcomes in mind, and should be linked with clear guidance and communication to students about learning and expectations.

  • Articulate a purpose statement for each assignment/assessment; identify the ways it relates to the learning outcomes
  • Communicate clear expectations for learning: What knowledge or skills can students expect to gain through the assignment?
  • Guide students toward meaningful and productive engagement with course material
  • Weigh all assignments to the relative importance of the outcome(s) they assess and the expectations you have for student time-investment
  • Distribute assignments/assessments in ways that provide students with ongoing feedback on their progress
  • Use a variety of assessment methods and offer options to students when possible
  • Balance the assessment scheme in a way that respects your, and your students’, schedules and time

Plan for Aligned Assessments

When planning your course assessments, consider the intended outcomes for student learning. What should students be able to do with what they know and/or value by the end of the course? How can assessments provide opportunities for students to demonstrate those goals?


Types of Assessments/Assignments


Learning Outcomes that use these verbs:


(recall, define, recognize, report, calculate, recall)


(apply, categorize, compare, convert, illustrate, adapt, discriminate)


(analyze, anticipate, predict, critique, hypothesize, extrapolate, create; design)

Assessment/Assignment Possibilities:

  • Fact-based test
  • Multiple-choice
  • Fill-in-the blank
  • True/False
  • Jeopardy activity
  • recipe-based labs
  • plug-and-chug problems
  • Flow chart
  • Mind map
  • Summary/precis
  • Matching/Multiple Choice
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Comparison paper
  • Problem-based labs
  • Familiar problem sets
  • Case analysis
  • Term paper
  • Capstone project
  • Integrative exam
  • Design lab
  • Debate
  • Unfamiliar/novel problem sets

Connect to Tech: Looking for more ideas? Stay tuned for the webinar: Innovative Assessments for Learning coming the week of June 8. Further details coming soon. This webinar will be facilitated by Sue Fostaty Young, Centre for Teaching and Learning

New Knowledge through Creative Use of Technologies

When alternative approaches to assessment and evaluation are necessitated, many concerns (I.e. academic integrity, instructor intellectual property) are addressed when instructors design assessments that require students to create new knowledge through creative use of technologies, rather than transfer/replicate content and concepts (Leiberman, 2018).

See the section of the guide below Alternatives for Common Assessments for a range of flexible assessment options based on common face-to-face assessments.

Consider the following strategies increasing the flexibility of your assignments:

  • Allow assessments to be individualized by allowing students to choose their own topics or problems to solve, applying concepts to their own experiences, incorporating self-reflection (e.g. students identify what they learned from the assessment), etc.
  • Explore options of open or non-disposable assignments – assessments that involve students in adapting, expanding, and improving openly licensed materials shared through creative commons licenses

Designing Remote Final Exams

Instructors considering remote-delivery final exams may face new challenges in order to accurately assess learning, manage accommodations and time zone differences, and address academic integrity concerns. For strategies, see our Designing Remote Final Exams resource for general design considerations and guidance on using the ICE model to design a common framework that ensures single and multiple exams are accurate assessments of student learning outcomes.

Rethinking Attendance Policies

Many face-to-face courses measure attendance as a form of participation assessment. Consider finding flexible ways of measuring engagement in place of attendance. For example, many active learning strategies can be used as a classroom assessment technique (CAT) where artifacts (such as an exit ticket, one-sentence reflection, comprehension quiz) stand as the measure of engagement. These activities offer many benefits – they offer greater flexibility to students, and are often easier for instructors to record than attempts at measuring attendance.

Develop Rubrics

Rubrics are an effective way of creating and communicating assignment expectations to students. Develop a rubric for each assignment, test/quiz, or other assessment activity. Plan to share developed rubrics to students as part of your course communication plan.

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Check out the CTL's guide on developing rubrics, found under the Rubrics tab of the linked Assessment page


Scaffolded Guidance

Particularly in remote/online environments, students require clear directions, examples, and rubrics that will help them feel more confident in meeting your expectations. They also require help building the skills they’ll need for succeeding in the course. Consider the following recommendations for how to scaffold or structure guidance on course assignments:

  • Create a series of low-stakes assessments that offer opportunities for rehearsal and feedback ahead of a final higher-stakes performance.
  • Provide exemplars of past student work (with permission) and highlight how the exemplar meets high expectations outlined in the rubric.
  • Draft thorough written instructions that explain your expectations and instructions for completing an assignment. Have someone review the draft who can offer you external perspective on the message’s clarity

Group Assignments

Technology can be leveraged to create student groups, collaborate on documents, submit group-authored documents, and grade based on group arrangements.

Kick off group work by having groups develop their own rubric that outlines how the group will measure their own success (e.g. what does effective group work look like to us?). The rubric they develop will help them set their own expectations for guiding engagement.

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There are a range of options for assessing group work. Check out this comprehensive list of ideas by the Eberly Center at Carnegie Mellon University


Connect to Tech icon: image of a gear and a wrenchConnect to Tech:

Plan and Facilitate Effective Discussions

Discussion forums are a common way of moving face-to-face conversations to other modalities. But this transition can pose new challenges in facilitating and assessing dialogue. Here are three key recommendations:

Comment strategically: Instructors often find it difficult to know when to chime in or even what to say in facilitating a discussion board. Use this AUCE handout as your guide.

Develop a rubric: A rubric ultimately saves you time by standardizing your frame of assessment. No need to recreate the wheel. Borrow from rubrics already in existence, such as this AUCE rubric.

Assign a reflection activity: Have students reflect on their own success by having them complete a self-assessment using the rubric. The grade can be calculated based on a combination of their own score and your observations.

Connect to TeConnect to Tech icon: image of a gear and a wrenchch: Create a Discussion Forum or Group Discussion (only available to group members) in onQ.

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For more on facilitating discussions following strategies of inclusion, equity, and diversity, see our Inclusive Community Start Here Guide

Collecting Assignments Electronically

Plan to collect student work electronically by considering these strategies:

  • Set deadlines but communicate a flexible plan for extensions and accommodations: Given the pressures students find themselves under in the move to remote, assume you’ll receive requests for extensions. Planning for and communicating a flexible policy for accommodation will save you time in the long run.
  • Avoid email attachments. Enabling assignment submissions through OnQ or your Faculty LMS will save you some big headaches often associated with collecting submissions by email – especially for larger classes.
  • Require specific file names: Give your students a simple file naming convention, for example, FirstnameLastname-Essay1.docx

Connect to Tech icon: image of a gear and a wrenchConnect to Tech: Students can submit work to an Individual Assignment folder or a Group Assignment folder in onQ.

Academic Integrity

Address the topic of academic integrity head on by having an explicit conversation with students. Academic Integrity @ Queen's offers comprehensive resources on Academic Integrity. For unique contexts of adjusting to remote and online teaching, here are some overarching values to consider:

Honesty: Be open and honest with your students about this time of transition - recognizing the pressures and challenges faced by all. Start with the assumption that students will be honest with you, especially if honesty is a guiding principle overall.

Respect & Trust: Convey a starting point of trust and respect. Recognize that students might not know what respectful behaviour looks like when engaging in their coursework remotely. For example, provide guidelines on netiquette.

Responsibility: Regardless of context, you still expect learners to be responsible for their learning. Explicate and remind students of what it looks like to be responsible for learning.

  • Consider strategies that promote academic integrity:
  • Clarify what academic integrity looks like in action for specific assignments. Provide examples of proper academic work, discuss common academic misconduct examples.
  • Provide opportunities to test out technologies being used for assessment before a test or project is due to reduce student anxiety
  • Create a Q&A forum where you can clarify expectations
  • Build in frequent low-stakes assessments with opportunities for feedback – in your feedback be sure to directly address concerns of academic integrity with supports for redressing any potential violations
  • Integrate activities related to Academic Integrity to assignments and assessments. For example, build in reflective prompts such as: How did you demonstrate academic integrity in this assignment? What have you learned about acting with integrity to this assignment, and how might this apply to your future academic or professional experiences?
  • Avoid high-stakes exams, inflexible or tight deadlines, and make-shift proctoring (such as invigilation through Zoom or Skype)

Online Options for Common Assessments

Type of Assessment

Remote and Online Options

Examination –
Midterm, End-of-Term, Final Exam

Convert your test or in-class quiz into a Quiz in onQ with randomized questions and a time limit.

Turn your Final Project or Exam into a Take-Home Assignment that students can submit to onQ.

Have students develop quiz questions to build and demonstrate understanding of the material. This assignment can be structured as a collaborative group activity.

Presentations/ Performance

Have students submit video recordings of their performances, presentations, or projects using their phones, Zoom, Screencast-o-matic, or Quicktime (on Mac only).

For a low-tech alternative, ask students to submit a written script of their presentation and assess content knowledge or other skills like persuasive thinking. This substitution is most appropriate when oral communication not the core focus on the assessment.


If a key outcome of the lab can be related to data analysis, share a data set with students then ask them to analyze then submit via OnQ

Can some aspects of the lab be accomplished if students watch them, rather than do them? Have students watch a demonstration and then work with concepts through application, calculation, or analysis questions.

Creative Work and Critique

Students can create audiovisual presentations using a variety of media such as Powerpoint, Prezi, Canva, and other tools

students create a one-page fact sheet on a topic. Students must select relevant facts and explain them clearly and concisely

Development of an annotated bibliography gives students choice in selecting works while assessing their higher-order abilities to evaluate sources, compare multiple perspectives, and provide rationales for their choices.

Written Work

Use the Assignments dropbox in OnQ to collect written work

Use collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams and Word Online to provide feedback on drafts

Participation Draw on a range of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) to measure participation
Peer Feedback Use Aropa – a peer review tool that integates with OnQ
Discussion OnQ Discussion tool

Grading Tools

Grading is an integral component of assessment. This section offers a preliminary set of resources related to grading activities:


Experiential Learning Faculty Toolkit CoverResources and References

Academic Integrity @ Queen’s

Association of College & University Educators Guide - Create Engaging Assignments With Accountability

Dalhousie University – Alternative Assessments

Indiana University – Keep Teaching

Lieberman, Mark. 2018. “Q&A: Toward Better Assessments in Online Courses"

Queen's Experiential Learning Hub - Experiential Learning Faculty Toolkit

Ryerson University - Alternative Assessments PDF Resource

University of Saskatchewan - “Academic Integrity and Remote Teaching”

University of Victoria - How do I stop online students from cheating? 


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The Transforming Teaching Toolkit by the Centre for Teaching & Learning, Queen’s University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.