- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial





Best Ways to Assess Performance in Students




Are there ways to assess students without giving them writing assignments? Why do instructors request essays or term papers? Is it possible to check the student's knowledge or skills other than having them write a paper? These questions are often addressed from instructors as they consider ways to assess students and gain knowledge of how well students understand what they learn in their classes. Several methods exist in testing students for knowledge and understanding of a course and they do help assess the knowledge and skills that students learn. Writing allows the instructor to assess the student's ability to express their thoughts about different subjects. Writing assignments allow students to identify key issues of a topic as they identify the problems and express these problems in an argument with main points backing the argument. Students are not able to express their knowledge and skills of a subject as well in other types of assessment as they do with writing assignments.

Writer Performance

Several forms of assessment are available to instructors other than writing assignments such as performance-based items or events. Performance-based items are usually tasks or activities that require the student to perform an action such as demonstrations or presentations. Other types of extended performance can be found by having students do projects or experiments. These usually take more than one day and often the instructor assign these for the students to take home and work on as well as several class days. Some instructors have students collect portfolios to see how well the student is doing over a period of time such as over the entire semester.

Another way to assess students of their knowledge and understanding of a topic is tests. These tests are designed to gain comprehension of how well the student understands the material studied during a specific time period. Different types of test questions are designed on a test to measure their understanding such as multiple choice, selected response questions, or matching questions and answers. Test anxiety often affects how well the student actually knows and understands the questions. Another way to assess students is through the use of homework and daily assignments. Any of these methods give instructors a way to assess the students and their understanding of the material but they are not as effective as giving writing assignments.

Writing assignments allow the students to express themselves in clear and precise discussion of a topic or subject. Essays or term papers allow the students to identify key issues of a problem and present solutions. The writing assignment should be relevant and presented with an argument that is strong and supports the keys points of the subject. Every essay should have a thesis and precise points to support the topic. The students should be able to show why the topic is relevant to the material that has been studied in class.

Writing is not only an assessment tool to evaluate students but it is also a great way to increase the quality of the students learning. When students research the topic they gain more knowledge and understanding as they read different journal articles, books, or material on the Internet. Essays or term papers allow students then to express the understanding of the material they have read. Writing assignments allows the students to use critical thinking skills as they ponder the subject and search for research to back up their arguments about a topic.

While many forms of assessment are available only writing assignments allow the students time to research and form a strong argument about a topic showing their understanding of the material they have studied in class and gained through research. While performance-based assignments and activities or tests add to the knowledge the students gain in the classroom they do not allow the student to express their understanding as well as essays or term papers