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Ways to Build Assessment Into the Course

Rubric for Online Instruction

Click here to visit the "Rubric for Online Instruction" by California State University, Chico

If you use this Rubric to review your course, your course structure will (1) support student learning (thus ensuring course effectiveness) and (2) allow you to receive formative and summative feedback about your effectiveness and ultimately the effectiveness of the course.

The rubric asks for proposed course structures and activities. These can often be used as evidence of effectiveness (ongoing strategies to measure students’ content knowledge, attitudes and skills) or they can lend themselves to developing assessment tools (e.g., learning goals and outcomes)

Sources of Evidence for Assessing Effectiveness of a Course

There are many potential sources of evidence of ‘teaching’ effectiveness, including student ratings (CAPE), peer ratings, self-evaluations, student interviews, teaching portfolio, and learning outcomes.

 Student Ratings - Assessing Perception (CAPE --like questions/feedback)

You can gather student ratings using CAPE, or some variation of CAPE.

Example multiple choice answers:

  • Overall, this was an excellent course.
  • Overall, the instructor was an excellent teacher .
  • I learned a great deal from this course.
  • I gained a good understanding of concepts/principles in this field.
  • The clarity of instruction was good.
  • The course deepened my interest in the subject matter of this course
  • I was motivated to do well in ….
  • I enjoyed the class
  • Course was interesting
  • The course was difficult
  • My skills have improved
  • I am confident in my ability to understand and apply concepts learned in this course.

Opinions vary on whether student ratings are necessary. Student ratings are one source of gathering evidence of teaching effectiveness, but may not be a sufficient source by themselves.

Learning Goals and Learning Outcomes - Skills Assessment

In this case effectiveness is inferred from students’ performance. The problem is that teaching (course effectiveness) is used as the sole explanation for the students' performance. Student performance can be influenced by many other factors, including the characteristics of the students, such as students’ knowledge base before they took the class, students’ motivation, and so on.

Online Courses MUST have:

Well developed Learning Goals and Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Goals: broad statements (of general outcome) used to communicate the concepts that the instructor wants students to take away from the class; broad statements of the intended general outcome of an instructional unit or program. (Arreola, 1998).
  • Learning Outcomes: statements referring to specific course content and level of understanding that is expected from the students regarding that material.

A learning outcome has three major components (Jenkins and Unwin, 1996; Arreola, 1998):

  • a description of what the student will be able to do – behavior.
  • the conditions under which the student will perform the task - condition
  • the criteria for performance evaluation – measurable criterion.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Develop Learning Goals and Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge: (remember, recall, and memorize terms, facts, defintions, and so on.)
    Assess by direct questions. Goal is to test the student's ability to recall facts, to identify and repeat info provided.
  • Process Oriented:
    • Comprehension: Knowing what a message (term, fact, concept, statement) means.
      Assess by having students 1) restate material in their own words, 2) reorder or extrapolate ideas, predict or estimate. May provide evidence that the students have some understanding of what they are saying.
    • Application: Applying or use information in a new situation.
      Assess by presenting students with a unique situation (i.e. not identical to that used during instruction) and have them apply their knowledge to solve the problem or execute the proper procedure.
    • Analysis: Examine a concept and break it down into it parts.
      Assess by presenting students with a unique situation of the same time type used in instruction and have them analyze the situate and describe the appropriate procedure or solution to the problem.
    • Synthesis: Assembling a whole from parts to solve a problem.
      Assess by presenting a unique situation and have them solve a problem by selecting and using appropriate information
    • Evaluation: making judgments based on specific criteria.
      Assess by presenting the students with a situation which includes both a problem and a solution to the problem and have them justify or critique the solution.

Example: Introduction to Biofuels (BIBC 140)

Overview of the Course:

This course will provide an overview of the growing field of biofuels by introducing the basics of renewable biofuel production. The topics covered will include the chemistry of biofuels, the biology of important feedstocks, the biochemical, genetic and molecular approaches being developed to advance the next generation of biofuels and the economical and global impacts of biofuel production. Overall the course will emphasize the importance of biofuel development as a contributor to replacing the diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, reducing global warming, and creating a sustainable society.

Learning Goals of the course (as stated by the instructor):

  1. Students will:
    1. recognize the types of existing energy resources
    2. recognize the differences between existing energy resources
    3. understand the  procurement and utilization types of existing energy resources
    4. understand the impacts of the types of existing energy resources on society and the environment.
    5. Students will be:
      1.  knowledgeable about the existing and potential future sources of biologically derived renewable energy
      2. be able to communicate within the context of varying aspects of the renewable bioenergy field.
      3. be able to interpret the mass media presentation of energy issues
      4. be able to access the primary literature in relation to renewable Bioenergy


There will be a 5-question quiz focused on the previous weeks reading during each Section.  There will be 8 total quizzes.  You can miss one quiz and make it up by bringing in an article from common media (newspapers, magazines, commercials, etc) related to energy, fossil fuels, biofuels or climate change and a ½ page synopsis of the subject matter within the article.  The grade for this extra project will replace your missed quiz.  There will be no other excuses for missed quizzes.

Final Project:

What is your carbon footprint for two weeks (high and low weeks)?

Tell us why and how you might be able to use sustainable energy to make it better.

Details will be provided during Section.

References Cited

Arreola, R.A. 1998. Writing Learning Objectives. in Arreola, R.A. and Aleamoni, L.M. Assessing Student Learning Outcomes: A Workshop Resource Document. University of Tennessee, Memphis.

Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc

Development in Outcome-based education: Click here to visit this resource.