Choice of Assessment

 Choice of Assessment: Multiple Means of Expression

"We can meet our competencies in different ways. I think we need to have that as an option."

– Instructor (John Abbott College)

What does this mean:

Providing students with choice regarding assessment and evaluation allows the learner to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge in a way that works for them, while maintaining academic rigor and integrity. This aligns with the UDL principle of Multiple Means of Expression.

Why is this important:

In today’s classroom there is a high level of variability with regard to abilities and disabilities. It is important to assess knowledge in a variety of ways to ensure that the assessment is reflective of what the student has learned, rather than being reflective of a barrier they are experiencing. For example, a student may have a very high level of anxiety and may not be able to perform well in an oral presentation. However, the student will have access to demonstrate their knowledge if given the choice to write an assignment, or perhaps create a video of the presentation. When choice is removed, often students will demonstrate their weaknesses, rather than their knowledge. Providing choice in the assessment format increases motivation as it provides students with a sense of control and self-determination.

How is this achieved:

Assessment of student knowledge is highly dependent upon the academic goals that have been set for the course. Research indicates that there has been a shift toward student-centered assessment (Webber, 2012). Student-centered assessments include a variety of ways to evaluate learning, which include presentations, papers, group work, and projects, rather than the more traditional view of assessment. UDL principles state that it is important to allow students to choose the method of assessment that they feel more comfortable with without diminishing academic standards

Webber. K., L. (2012). The use of learner-centered assessments in US Colleges and Universities. Research in Higher Education., 53 (201-228).

Practical Tools

Choices within an assessment

If possible, allow students to choose a certain number of questions.

A student may choose:

  • 3 out of the 4 essay questions given
  • between the fill in the blank and the multiple choice questions
  • to write a long essay or 3 short answer questions
  • 10 out of the 12 math problems given

Choices between assessments

If possible, think of ways in which the students can demonstrate their knowledge in a different way. You already have your set of assessments, think of a parallel mid-term assessment for one of them that assesses the same competencies but in a different way.

Students may be given a choice between:

  •  writing a paper and doing a power point presentation
  •  completing a diagram with the appropriate nomenclature (fill in the blanks) and choosing the right definition for the vocabulary given (multiple choice questions)
  • giving an oral presentation in front of the class or writing a paper
  • teaching peers a certain topic and preparing a set of questions with answers on that particular topic
  • conducting a research study and doing an internship
  • writing an essay on a famous painting or on a short story

Choices of media

If possible, allow students a choice of media to complete an exam. A choice of media may include: movie, drawing, pictures, presentations, music, etc.

Students may be given a choice related to:

  • writing on a computer or on paper
  • writing an in-class exam, or writing an online exam from home
  • create a movie or a song

Choices of assessment grading scheme

If possible, allow a choice in grading scheme, depending on the competencies assessed in each of assessment.

Students may be given the choice to:

  • eliminate one out of the 3 grades used to evaluate a certain competency
  • put more weight on certain assessments, and less on others
  • determine 3 of 4 assessment formats, e.g., essays, exams, presentations, paintings, etc.

See practical examples of UDL implementation: UDL in Action.