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"Though they involve complex learning, the desired results [target, goal, objective, intended outcome] must be cast in measurable terms. Any valid assessment, in other words, is designed to measure the degree to which the learner's work hit the target."

Wiggins & McTighe. Understanding by Design

Backwards design diagram

Once learning outcomes or desired results are clearly defined, it's time to consider what acceptable evidence looks like to measure how well students have understood and can demonstrate their learning. It's all about transfer of learning. An assessment is aligned with a course goal if it accurately measures that goal.

Assessment Evidence

Consider the Backward Design Template Quick Guide on Assessment Evidence.

Direct / Summative Assessment / Performance Tasks involves looking at student performance by examining samples of student work such as midterm or final exam questions, student papers or presentations or portfolios assessed for program goal achievement, or licensure exams.

  • Through what authentic performance tasks will students demonstrate the desired understandings?
  • By what criteria will performances of understanding be judged?

Indirect / Formative Assessment / Other Evidence assesses the quality of the learning process for continuous improvement while the learning is happing as well as post-course. Examples include: gathering feedback from the student, graduates, focus groups, coop feedback, and classroom assessment techniques (minute papers, muddiest point papers, summaries, polling, low or no stakes assessments that check students' understanding-quizzes, tests, writing assignments, observation, feedback, journal, self-assessment).

  • Through what other evidence (tests, quizzes, academic prompts, observations, homework, journals for example) will students demonstrate achievement of the desired results?
  • How will students reflect upon and self-assess their learning?

Other helpful resources

Scaffold Learning with Rubrics

Rubrics are wonderful metacognitive tools to set clear student expectations regarding what success looks like for an assignment or assessment. Rubrics are also used for secondary assessment of program and accreditation outcomes.  

Rubrics can be used in multiple ways in your Blackboard course. When made available to students as part of an assignment, they can see what is expected of them. When used for grading, rubrics ensure consistency in grading across all students.

Leverage these helpful rubrics and assessment resources:

The next step in the process is to build meaningful learning experiences that support course goals. LIT is happy to talk through your course design, provide ideas and support you along the way. 

For additional assistance on assessment and accreditation

Wentworth Institute of Technology works with many Accreditation bodies to assess our programs. You can contact LIT at