Tips for Building Assessment Items Using Student Engagement Concepts

Research has shown that student engagement is directly related to performance in the classroom, both in terms of a student’s overall learning as well as in the level of accomplishment on assessment tasks. But how exactly can a learning environment be structured to promote engagement?

Many learning environments are designed to incorporate online assessment, including low-stakes formative assessments that are integrated within the learning module and engage students’ interest through performance-based tasks. Formative assessments serve as an ongoing (even daily) check-in that can provide students timely feedback as to how they are progressing along the learning path. 

Below we share how you can use the six concepts of student engagement to help you create the type of e-assessment content that is likely to resonate with students, while driving them towards higher levels of learning.

1. Relevancy 

Relevancy refers to assessment items that tap into the prior experience or interests of the student population. Relevant assessment items leverage something that the student is likely to be familiar with and can connect in a personal context. For example, a grade 10 mathematics test may include a performance task related to the number of concert tickets likely to be sold at various price points.

2. Authenticity

The demand from parents and students for institutions to provide authentic learning and authentic assessment is stronger than ever. Authentic assessment items are based on real-world scenarios and situations, and allow students to demonstrate their problem solving in a practical context that extends beyond the classroom. For example, rather than referencing life on an imaginary planet, a more engaging test may have students look at data on heart rate changes in Olympic track athletes.

3. Autonomy 

When using this concept, an assessment item design would allow each student a choice of question(s) to answer. For example, students could be presented with three open-ended writing prompts, and asked to choose one to respond to. In this example, the element of choice, along with there being no “right answer” allows students to engage in an assessment activity within their own area(s) of interest.

4. Collaboration

Many students report that they like to collaborate or socialize during their learning, and certainly the opportunity to learn from or get feedback from a peer is often motivating. In an engaging assessment experience, a collaborative task that allows for virtual or in-person discussion, or provides a team with a problem-solving activity can be used to familiarize students with a concept or strategy Then  that at a later time can be assessed independently

5. Higher Order Thinking 

Higher order thinking is assessed through assessment items that require students to do much more than simply regurgitate facts. These performance-based item types often have multiple steps which engage students in varying ways. Ideally, they are designed with several entry points to allow students of varying abilities to experience success on at least part of the task. For example, tasks can be designed that require students to synthesize a given set of information, apply some data to a new problem, draw conclusions, and/or explain their thinking.

6. Self Assessments

A type of formative assessment, self assessments can engage students by allowing them to reflect on their  performance—and gives them an opportunity to rethink and change their response if need be. These items typically are designed with immediate feedback, and can also provide a hint or a reminder of a formula or rule that assists the student in trying another approach to solving the problem.

When it comes to building engaging assessments and assessment items, think beyond multiple-choice. E-assessment software provides many opportunities for you to move beyond the limitations of traditional items types. Better yet, they allow for a wide range of TEI types to be created by all item writers, not simply those who possess a high level of programming skill. 

learn more about TAO digital assessment platform integrations and tools for engaging assessment