Assessment and Grading

SFQ Questions

The following statements/questions could be asked related to assessment, grading and feedback practices.

The faculty member:

  1. Uses appropriate evaluation methods to determine my knowledge/skills relevant to the course learning outcomes.
  2. Provides clear descriptions for grading assessments.
  3. Provides me with feedback on my work in this course.
  4. Posts grades on DC Connect and evaluates student work on an ongoing and timely basis.
  5. Offers a variety of ways to demonstrate my understanding of coursecontent (e.g., assignments, tests, discussions).

Authentic assessments, appropriate evaluation methods, and detailed and actionable feedback can have a profound impact on student engagement and success. Consideration for assessment strategies that are relevant and meaningful for the student will better meet their learning needs and increase scores on this section in the SFQ.

Authentic Assessments (Q19; Q23)

For students to see how appropriate evaluation methods are used to determine knowledge relevant to the learning outcomes (Q19) and offer a variety of ways to demonstrate knowledge (Q23), consider integrating authentic assessments into your course.

Authentic assessments ensure that students are not only being tested on their knowledge but also on their ability to apply that knowledge to real world problems as they will be expected to moving forward in industry. Key characteristics of authentic assessments include mirroring real-life expectations, require judgement and problem-solving and elicit student action.

This table can assist you in determining if your assessment strategy is authentic:

Typical tests Authentic tasks Indicators of authenticity
Require correct responses Require a high-quality product or performance, and a justification of the solutions to problems encountered Correctness is not the only criterion; students must be able to justify their answers.
Must be unknown to the student in advance to be valid Should be known in advance to students as much as possible The tasks and standards for judgment should be known or predictable.
Are disconnected from real-world contexts and constraints Are tied to real-world contexts and constraints; require the student to “do” the subject. The context and constraints of the task are like those encountered by practitioners in the discipline.
Contain items that isolate particular skills or facts Are integrated challenges in which a range of skills and knowledge must be used in coordination The task is multifaceted and complex, even if there is a right answer.
Include easily scored items Involve complex tasks that for which there may be no right answer, and that may not be easily scored The validity of the assessment is not sacrificed in favor of reliable scoring.
Are “one shot”; students get one chance to show their learning Are iterative; contain recurring tasks Students may use particular knowledge or skills in several different ways or contexts.
Provide a score Provide usable diagnostic information about students’ skills and knowledge The assessment is designed to improve future performance, and students are important “consumers” of such information.

Adapted from e-campus Ontario and adapted from Center for Innovation Teaching and Learning, Authentic Assessment, Indiana University, 2021 and Wiggins, Grant. (1998). Ensuring authentic performance. Chapter 2 in Educative Assessment: Designing Assessments to Inform and Improve Student Performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 21 – 42.

Some examples of authentic assessments that you might want to consider include:

  • Evaluating a case study;
  • Applying a learned concept to a new or novel situation;
  • Illustrating or diagraming a process or procedure as applied in a new context;
  • Considering a real-world problem and devise an appropriate solution using learned principles;
  • Diagraming an experiment with pre-determined variables;
  • Developing a set of Standard Operating Procedures to meet a set of needs and considerations;
  • Create a video or infographic to explain a concept to a novice learner.

When applying Blooms Taxonomy Domains, consider some of the following examples of assessment types that lend support to two domains in particular:

Domain Category Assessment Example
Cognitive Remember Fill in the blanks; Label; Match
Understand Concept maps; Diagrams; Provide Examples
Apply Lab Reports; Discussion Posts; Problem Solving Tasks
Analyze Case studies; Critique of procedures; Review paper
Evaluate Debate, Discussions, Providing alternative solutions
Create Develop evaluation criteria; alternative solutions
Affective Receiving Match; Knowledge Survey; Feedback forms
Responding Critical questioning; Ability to follow procedure
Valuing Proposal of new plans; Reflection paper
Organization Focus groups; Ability to solve unfamiliar problems
Characterization Self-evaluation

Adapted from Bloom's Taxonomy Learning Activities and Assessments. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo

Authentic Assessments (Q19)

To ensure students feel they are provided with appropriate evaluation methods related to the course learning outcomes (Q19), consider reviewing your assessments to ensure that you have:

  • Varied evaluation types with different weighting
  • Selected the appropriate grading methods for the content (tests, quizzes, assignments etc.) and cognitive level or task expectation (e.g., a multiple choice quiz is not the best selection if the students are required to explain something);
  • Provided clarity for students to understand the purpose of the assignments (e.g., how they fit with the course learning outcomes or translate to real world application, and why it is important).
  • Connected the assessments to the CLOs in a meaningful way to ensure students are able to see that connection.
Assignment Example:
Screenshot of an assignment
DC Connect Quiz Example:
DC Connect Quiz Example
In-Person Test Example:
In-Person Test Example
In-Person Test Example

Clear Assessment Descriptions and Actionable Feedback Strategies (Q20; Q22)

For students to see success in your course, they require clear assessment grading expectations (Q20) and detailed and actionable feedback on their work on a frequent basis (Q22).

To improve SFQ scores in this area, you might want to consider implementing some of the following items:

Assessment clarity:

  • Use principles of UDL to provide clear instructions in a variety of ways. For example, providing written instructions, verbally explaining the assessment in class, and providing a Video Note message in DC Connect (this can be attached to the actual Assignment).
  • Provide your assessment instructions to a colleague who is unfamiliar with the course content. They will be able to identify gaps in directions or explanations, and alert you to unclear expectations.
  • When possible, share an exemplar with students to clearly demonstrate expectations.
  • Use a rubric and make it available to the students in advance of their submission for students to ensure they are meeting the submission requirements.


  • Rubrics
    • Rubrics provide a clear set of expectations for assignment completion, and allocated points for varying levels of completion for each of those expectations. There are no surprises.
    • When a rubric is provided with the assignment instructions, students have a clear outline on how to achieve success on the assessment.
    • Rubrics also allow for students to obtain actionable feedback as the requirements to achieve a higher level of performance are included in the rubric. Refer to the DC Connect page for how to create rubrics directly in the LMS.
      Rubric Example
    • Checklists
      • Checklists provide students a framework to ensure they have attended to or captured each aspect or element within an assessment.
      • Can be as basic or detailed as required to clearly outline requirements for success.
    • Expectations for returning grades & feedback
      • At the beginning of the semester, establish a standard timeframe within which students can expect to receive their assessment grade and feedback.
      • In order to reduce opportunities for students to make the same error twice (e.g., citation errors), wherever possible, grades and feedback for one assessment should be returned prior to issuing the next assessment.
      • This can also be implemented in DC Connect by updating the expectations of responses time and returning submitted work within the DC Connect template “Welcome” module (e.g., tests will be marked within 10 business days)
            PowerPoint Example:
            PowerPoint Example
            DC Connect Examples:
            DC Connect Example 2

            DC Connect Example 3 DC Connect Examples

            Assessment and Grading Case Studies

            Case Study 1

            Rather than using traditional examination methods, consider having the students work together to create test questions. A written explanation of how the test question addresses the learning required would accompany the question submission to demonstrate the knowledge of the student/s who created the question. These questions can then be incorporated within the test itself, or sent out for students to use as a review in advance of the test. 

            Source: Alternate exam resources. Alternate Exam Resources | UBC Skylight: Science Centre for Learning and Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

            Case Study 2

            When asking questions that require working through a calculation, system or process consider having students record themselves verbally explaining and teaching said topic on camera. Durham College students have access to Video Note in DC Connect as well to easily provide a short video explanation; students also have access to PowerPoint which allows them to create presentation videos, as well as Zoom. This allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the task. 

            Source: Teaching remotely. MacPherson Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

            Case Study 3

            Rather than testing students in a standard test format, consider having the students solve real world problems that encompass many aspects of their learning. An example would be rather than testing students on the requirements of an Individual Education Plan, have them create a plan which emphasizes all the areas of importance including age, and specific considerations for that child.

            Source:Authentic assessment. – Instructional Technology And Design Services - Montclair State University. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from,understanding%20by%20using%20this%20information%20in%20transformative%20ways.