The Benefits of Linking Objective and Subjective Assessments

July 20, 2016 Christy Terry

Objective assessments have the benefit of being a bit easier to write and grade than subjective ones, but no education can be complete without subjective assignments. Medical faculty need to be able to see how students perform in clinicals. Law professors have to be able to gauge how well students can make an argument in an essay. And undergraduate faculty increasingly have a variety of creative assignment formats to grade—from poems to podcasts to presentations.

All of these subjective assessments are crucial to provide both students with the experiences they need to learn and professors with the knowledge they need to measure student learning.

Unfortunately, it has always been more difficult to pull the same kind of useful data from subjective assignments that multiple-choice tests so easily provide.

That no longer has to be the case.

ExamSoft’s rubrics make it almost as easy to produce assessment data for your subjective assignments as it is for your objective exams.

Use the Same Technology Solution for Both

You can track subjective assessment data manually, but the process for doing so is slow and tedious, and your results will be disconnected from any other data you have. For schools that already use ExamSoft to administer exams, implementing rubrics accomplishes a few things at once:

  1. It makes grading your assignments easier.
  2. As long as you tag your assignments properly, it automates the process of collecting assessment data.
  3. It brings all the assessment analytics from your various exams and assignments into one place.
  4. It puts it all into a handy visual format that makes it easy to see the trends in how students are performing individually and as a class.

When you use one platform to create, grade, and track all your various assignments, a lot of your efforts will quickly become more organized and unified.

Adopting the technology doesn’t automatically get you there; you have one more important step you need to complete.

Create a Standardized Tagging System

Producing useful assessment data depends on a tagging system that tracks all of the goals, competencies, and other criteria you seek to measure. Before you’re ever at the point of creating an exam or subjective assignment, you want a clear idea of the goals the institution as a whole wants to track, as well as those of the particular course.

Those clearly defined goals should guide both the creation of a tagging system and the creation of the exams and assignments themselves. When faculty members all get into the habit of tagging every exam and assignment using this system, not only will they get clear, automated assessment data each time they grade, they’ll also have an easier time making sure the assignments they create match the goals of the course.

See Results across All Assignments

With all assignments and exams being graded within one platform, all the data resides in one easy-to-access place. You can quickly, without any additional effort, see how the performance on yesterday’s clinical or essay assignment relates to that of last month’s exam.

That ability enables professors to more quickly and consistently notice when students are struggling with a particular subject or competency. Better awareness of student performance naturally leads to improved feedback and more relevant assignments, helping students reach the ultimate goal of improved learning outcomes.

Unified assessment data for subjective and objective assignments certainly isn’t the only way for professors to stay attuned to students’ needs, but it definitely makes their jobs easier.

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